The Most Beautiful Olympic Stadiums Ever Built


The 2012 London Summer Olympics kicks off today, and all eyes are on the capital of tea and toast for Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle’s three-hour opening ceremony extravaganza that includes, according to our friends at HuffPost, Paul McCartney, cricket, and sheep. After reading a fascinating article about the Architecture Olympics, explaining International Olympic Committee founder Baron de Coubertin’s vision for “a global event that incorporated not only athletics but also art competitions, giving equal importance to works of architecture, painting, music, sculpture and literature,” we felt compelled to take an in-depth look at the stunning design afforded by the biannual competition.

Starting with a look at the most stunning stadiums constructed for this year’s events, and then going back in time to the striking simplicity of the first stadium in Greece, click through to check out the most beautiful Olympic architecture ever built. Then, nominate your favorite stadium in the comments below!

The Aquatics Center by Zaha Hadid — 2012 London Olympics

Image credit: Buildapedia; Hufton + Crowe

Velodrome by Hopkins Architects — 2012 London Olympics

Image credit: Edmund Sumner

Basketball Arena by Sinclair Knight Merz with Wilkinson Eyre and KSS — 2012 London Olympics

Image credit: Edmund Sumner via dezeen

The London Shooting Venue by Magma Architecture — 2012 London Olympics

Image credit: J.L. Diehl via afasia

Coca-Cola Beatbox Pavilion by Pernilla Ohrstedt and Asif Khan — 2012 London Olympics

Image credit: Hufton + Crow via archdaily

Beijing National Stadium aka the Bird’s Nest by Herzog & de Meuron with Ai Weiwei — 2008 Beijing Olympics

Image credit: Read the Smiths; antonhazewinkel; Iwan Baan

The Chinese National Aquatics Center aka The Water Cube by PTW Architects — 2008 Beijing Olympics

Image credit: Jean Wang; ARUP

Olympic Sports Complex by Santiago Calatrava — 2004 Athens Olympics

Image credit: dimakk

Olympic Stadium by Roger Taillibert — 1976 Montréal Olympics

Image credit: moshnride; Amazing Race

Olympiastadion by Ackermann and Partners with Jörg Schlaich — 1972 Munich Olympics

Image credit: Westham Football; Columbia University School of Architecture

Yoyogi National Stadium by Kenzo Tange — 1964 Tokyo Olympics

Image credit: tokyo.parallellt

Olympiastadion by Werner and Walter March — 1936 Berlin Olympics

Image credit: German Federal Archives

The Coliseum by John and Donald Parkinson — 1932 Los Angeles Olympics

Image credit: Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games; Jim Downs via Flatirons Photo Club

The Amsterdam Olympic Stadium by Jan Wils — 1928 Amsterdam Olympics

Image credit: Vincent Steenberg; MAS=MORE

Panathinaiko Stadium by Anastasios Metaxas and Ernst Ziller — 1896 Athens Olympics

Image credit: The Panathenaic Stadium; unknown via Wikipedia