The Most Iconic Olympic Venues of All-Time

The Most Iconic Olympic Venues of All-Time

Flicking through this fantastic Rio 2016 Venue Guide¬†it’s no doubt that the beach volleyball arena is the¬†iconic venue of this year’s Olympic Games.¬†Nothing says “Brazil” quite like beach volleyball on the Copacabana.

That got us¬†thinking… ¬†What are the most iconic stadiums in Olympic history?¬†In no particular order, here’s our list (scroll down for the Winter Olympics venues):


Beijing National Aquatics Center – Beijing 2008

The National Aquatics Center, also known as the “Water Cube,” was the Olympics venue for swimming events in 2008.

Despite its nickname, the building is not an actual cube, but a cuboid (a rectangular box). Swimmers at the “Water Cube” broke 25 world records during the 2008 Olympics.¬†After Beijing¬†2008, the building underwent a 200¬†million Yuan revamp to turn half of its interior into a water park.¬†It will host the curling events at the 2022 Winter Olympics.


Lee Valley VeloPark – London 2012

UK - London 2012 Olympics - Olympic Velodrome landscape
Exterior of the 105m siberian pine Velodrome curved roof during the London 2012 Olympics

Lee Valley VeloPark is a cycling centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, East London. It features a velodrome and BMX racing track, as well as a one-mile (1.6 km) road course and mountain bike track.


National Stadium – Beijing 2008

Beijing National Stadium-Beijing-2008
Due to the stadium’s external appearance it was nicknamed “The Bird’s Nest”

The stadium was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics and will be used again in the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.


Olympic Stadium – Montreal 1976

Montreal Olympic Stadium
The main venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics, the Olympic Stadium is nicknamed “The Big O” in reference to it’s doughnut-shaped roof component

Montreal’s¬†Olympic Stadium is the largest by seating capacity in Canada. It is also known locally as the¬†“The Big Owe” to reference the astronomical cost of the stadium and the 1976 Olympics as a whole. It features a retractable roof,¬†which is opened and closed by cables suspended from the¬†huge 175m tower (neither of which was completed in time for the 1976 Games) ‚Äď the tallest inclined structure in the world.


Yoyogi National Gymnasium – Tokyo 1964

Yoyogi National Gymnasium-Toyko-1964
The gymnasium will also host the handball event at the 2020 Summer Olympics

An architectural icon for its distinctive design, the complex housed swimming and diving events in the 1964 Summer Olympics. The gymnasium is the larger of two arenas built for the Games, both of which were designed by Kenzo Tange and employ similar structural principles and aesthetics. A separate annex was used for the basketball competition at those same games.


Central Lenin Stadium РMoscow 1980

Luzhniki Stadium-Moscow-1980
Renamed the Luzhniki Stadium in 1992, the name was derived from the bend of the flood meadow of the Moskva River on which it was built

Formerly the national stadium of the Soviet Union, it was part of the Luzhniki Olympic Complex and is now the national stadium of Russia. It was the chief venue for the 1980 Summer Olympics with a spectator capacity of 103,000 at that time and is set to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final.


London Aquatics Centre – London 2012

Aquatics Centre-London-2012
After significant modification and removal of the temporary wings the centre opened to the public in March 2014

The centre features two 50-metre swimming pools and a 25-metre diving pool in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park at Stratford, London.¬†IOC President Jacques Rogge described the Centre as a “masterpiece”.


Olympiastadion – Munich 1974

GV of the Olympic Stadium
The tent-like structure of the Olympiapark was designed to mimic the Alps and set a counterpart to the 1936 Games in Berlin

With a capacity of 80,000 the original Olympiastadion M√ľnchen also hosted many major football matches including the Finals of the 1974 World Cup and Euro ’88, the European Cup Finals of 1979 and 1993 and the Champions League Final in 1997. It’s current capacity is 69,250 following renovation, but the¬†large sweeping canopies of acrylic glass remain.


Centennial Olympic Stadium РAtlanta 1996

This photo shows an aerial view of the Olympic sta
An aerial view of the Olympic stadium in Atlanta¬†shows a non-conformist design with it’s distinctive protruding corner¬†

The stadium was constructed for the 1996 Olympics, but was later converted into a baseball stadium for the Atlanta Braves and renamed Turner Field. The Olympic Stadium bore witness to Donovan Bailey winning the 100m in a world record time of 9.84 s and Michael Johnson winning both the 200 and 400 metres titles, breaking the 200 m world record in the process.


Palau Sant Jordi – Barcelona 1992

Olympic Installations in Barcelona, Spain on October, 1991.
Sant Jordi Sports Palace was home to the artistic gymnastics, handball and volleyball events of the Barcelona Olympics

Palau Sant Jordi¬†(English: St. George’s Palace) is an indoor sporting arena that formed part of the Olympic Ring complex in Barcelona, Spain for the 1992 Games.¬†Designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, it was opened in 1990 and with a capacity of 17,000¬†–¬†and 24,000 for musical events – is the 11th¬†largest indoor arena in the world.


Olympic Velodrome – Athens 2004

Athens Olympic Velodrome-Athens-2004
Distinctive twin roofs cover the stands on both sides

Extensively refurbished in order to host the track cycling events at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, the velodrome –¬†which seats 5,250 – has a track made of¬†Afzelia wood. Whatever that is.


Stadium Australia – Sydney 2000

Olympic site
Stadium Australia is commercially known as ANZ Stadium and formerly as Telstra Stadium

The stadium was originally built to temporarily hold 110,000 spectators, making it the largest Olympic Stadium ever built. A reduced capacity of 83,500 for a rectangular field (and 82,500 for an oval field) makes it the second largest stadium in Australia today, after the Melbourne Cricket Ground, but awnings over the north and south stands now allows most of the seating to be undercover.


…And let’s not forget the Winter Olympics:

Bolshoy Ice Dome – Sochi 2014Bolshoy Ice Dome-Sochi-2014

Richmond Olympic Oval – Vancouver 2010Richmond Olympic Oval-Vancouver-2010

Bergisel Sprungschanze Stadion – Innsbruck 1976A ski jumper hovers above a packed stadium during the l964 Olympics

Iceberg Skating Palace – Sochi 2014Iceberg Skating Palace-Sochi-2014

White Ring Arena – Nagano 1998White Ring Arena-Nagano-1998

Olympic Ski Jumping Complex – Lake Placid 1980Olympic Ski Jumping Complex-Lake Placid-1980


Anything we’ve missed out? Let us know!