Crowd cheer in an circular stadium.

Crowd cheering in stadium ()

With the European continent hosting more Olympic Games than any other, being stationed here offers a unique and relatively easy opportunity to visit and take a glimpse back in time.

Athens. The all-marble Panathenaic Stadium used in the 1896 Olympics is still in use today. Months before the Games begin, the ceremonial torch used in the global torch relay is lit in Athens. The Greek capital most recently hosted the Games in 2004. While many venues have fallen into disrepair, the stadium is worth a stop when visiting the city.

Barcelona. By hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics, this Catalan city etched its mark in history. The Games saw a reunified German team, a post-apartheid South African delegation and the first professional athletes courtesy of the U.S. “Dream Team” in basketball. Strategically located atop Montjuic, visitors can tour the stadium and check out the stunning vistas of the city below.

Berlin. In 1936, U.S. sprinter Jesse Owens shattered track records and became the first athlete to win four gold medals at the Olympics. Although many original venues were destroyed or repurposed in World War II (WWII), visitors can still tour the Olympiastadion, Waldbühne Amphitheater, Maifeld and the athletes’ village.

London. Until this year, London was the record-holder for the most Olympics hosted by a single city (1908, 1948 and 2012). After WWII, the British were called upon to host the first post-war Games. Although still reeling from the war, Queen Elizabeth II opened the successful event. Visitors can head to Olympic Park, which still houses the aquatic center where U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps made history, or to the Olympic Stadium, now home to football club West Ham United.

Munich. Before Michael Phelps, there was Mark Spitz. In 1972, this American swimming trailblazer broke seven world records and earned seven gold medals. However, the Games were tarnished due to a terrorist attack. The Black September Organization, a Palestinian terrorist group, burst into the hotel rooms of Israeli athletes, killing two immediately and taking others hostage. After violent clashes that followed, nine Israeli athletes, five attackers and a West German police officer were killed. Today, visitors can visit the Erinnerungsort-Olympia Attentat memorial in the Munich Olympiapark. The park is also home to the stadium, aquatic center, velodrome and Olympic Tower.

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