Overlooking the Panathenaic Stadium (Kallimarmaron), Ardittos Hill is located on the eastern side of the Illysos River. The hill takes its name from the mythical local hero, Ardittos, who had the gift of resolving conflicts and quarrels with his powerful speeches.
In the past this was the seat of the supreme court of Iliaia, which judged murder cases. The area between the Ilyssos River and the present-day cemetery (known as Agra) has been home to temples, including Pan, Artemis Agrotera, Ekate and Hera. Unfortunately, the frequent flooding of the river prevented the successful preservation of most of these temples.
Today the hill is a park covered with pines and other Mediterranean greenery. At the top of the hill there is a tomb believed to belong to Herodes Atticus. The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was the first international Olympic Games held in modern history. Organised by the International Olympic Committee, which had been created by Pierre de Coubertin, it was held in Athens, Greece, from 6 to 15 April 1896.
Athens had been unanimously chosen to stage the inaugural modern Games during a congress organised by Coubertin in Paris on 23 June 1894, during which the IOC was also created, because Greece was the birthplace of the Ancient Olympic Games. The main venue was the Panathenaic Stadium, where athletics and wrestling took place; other venues included the Neo Phaliron Velodrome for cycling, and the Zappeion for fencing.
The opening ceremony was held in the Panathenaic Stadium on 6 April, during which most of the competing athletes were aligned on the infield, grouped by nation. On 6 April, the games of the First Olympiad were officially opened; it was Easter Monday for both the Western and Eastern Christian Churches and the anniversary of Greece’s independence. The Panathenaic Stadium was filled with an estimated 80,000 spectators, including King George I of Greece, his wife Olga, and their sons. Most of the competing athletes were aligned on the infield, grouped by nation.
After a speech by the president of the organising committee, Crown Prince Constantine, his father officially opened the Games with the words (in Greek): “I declare the opening of the first international Olympic Games in Athens. Long live the Nation. Long live the Greek people.”
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