Travel Picks: Top 10 Olympic cities worth a visit

Mon Aug 13, 2012 2:20pm EDT
 
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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - While the cameras might be primarily focused on the athletes, the host city has a unique opportunity to emerge as a surprise star during the Olympics. With the games of the 30th Olympiad coming to a close, the editors and members of VirtualTourist.com (www.virtualtourist.com) have put together a list of "Top 10 Former Olympic Cities Worth a Visit." Reuters has not approved this list:

1. Athens, Greece

Of all former host cities, no city is as synonymous with the Olympics as Athens. Visitors to Athens can see the Panathenaic Stadium, built entirely of white marble, which housed the original 1896 Olympic Games. OAKA, the Athens Olympic Sports Complex, can be found in Maroussi, a northern suburb, and was the sight of the 2004 Olympic Games. Architect Santiago Calatrava added his signature flair to OAKA by adding a new roof structure and "Agora," the steel arch designed to shade spectators from the bright summer sun. No trip to Athens is complete without checking out some of its more traditional architectural gems - visit the Acropolis and see the ruins of the Parthenon and Erechtheion that symbolize the society which gave us the Olympic tradition.

2. Stockholm, Sweden

In addition to being geographically spread among fourteen islands, Stockholm is also unique in that this year marks the hundredth anniversary of the 1912 Summer Olympics, the first to be held in Sweden. The visit should start in Gamla Stan, the city's old town, where a short stroll will take you past the Royal Palace and Stockholm Cathedral. The Stockholm Stadium, located in Lidingövägen, is the oldest Olympic arena in the world that is still in regular use, making it a great stop for anyone visiting the city today. From the stadium it is a short trip to the island of Djurgården, where Scandinavia's most visited museum, the Vasamuseet, is located. The museum holds the Vasa, a 384-year-old warship. The Skansen Open-Air Museum is also located on the island of Djurgården.

3. Antwerp, Belgium

Though Antwerp was awarded the 1920 Olympics under melancholy circumstances, the resulting city and its reputation as a culture capital illustrates how much things can change in fifty years. Originally, the 1916 Olympic Games were scheduled in Berlin, but were later cancelled due to World War I. After the war ended, the 1920 Olympic Games were awarded to Antwerp to honor the suffering inflicted on the Belgian people during the war.

Though the former Olympic Stadium is not a particular landmark for visitors today, this former Olympic city has become a major design and fashion hub, so visitors travelers with interests in those fields should make sure to visit the Fashion Museum (momu) and the MAS (museum aan de stroom). Another noteworthy museum is the Museum Plantin-Moretus/Prints Room, which houses an overview of printing and is the only museum worldwide to be named an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

4. Melbourne, Australia   Continued...

 
PICTURES OF THE YEAR 2004 - Fireworks explode over the Olympic stadium during the opening ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games August 13, 2004. A spectacular opening ceremony launched the Athens Olympics on Friday, lifting spirits in the Games' ancient birthplace. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis