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Athens 2004

Athens 2004 (1A)

It is impossible not to associate the Olympic Games to their founding city. Their being held in the Greek capital in 2004 was a real milestone in the history of these games, which were founded here in ancient times. They were recovered once again in the city in 1896 after centuries of absence, and the cycle was closed in the 21st century with the greatly celebrated 2004 Athens games. The Greek capital will want to hold them again for as long as the Olympics exist. It is in the city's blood.

It is a well-known fact that very event in any city in the world over in recent years is accompanied by major projects of urban development and architecture. In the case of the Olympic Games, cities find the perfect pretext for developing major projects, tear down old buildings, restore degraded areas, expand and improve services and, in short, apply more than just a coat of paint.

Athens, a city that had lost its former glory over recent years and had become famous for its chaos and pollution, saw the light at the end of the tunnel with the 2004 Olympic Games.

Thus, the entire city experienced - or rather enjoyed - its exceptional facelift. Work particularly included the improvement of its archaeological parks, the control of traffic along new routes, the enhancing of its traditional neighbourhoods that went from being somewhat neglected to offering a lovely quaint appearance, or the improving its transport services. In addition, new spaces were built to house not only the competitions but also the many visitors that the Olympics were to attract.

The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava was chosen to design and build the great Athens Olympic Sports Complex. It impressed the world with its most characteristic stylistic features. Its spectacular style reached all corners of the world at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games, and in the athletics, tennis, basketball and cycling competitions, among others.

The complex also housed the indoor gym known as the Nikaia Olympic Weightlifting Hall, the Peace and Friendship Stadium, next to the sea, or the Helleniko Olympic Complex. The Ancient Olympic Stadium by Ictinus was carefully restored to house the marathon final.

The city experienced much more than just a few centuries from 776 BC, the year in which the first Games were held, until 2004. However, its festive yet competitive spirit regarding sports remains the same, although the architecture is light years apart. If not, see for yourself.

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