Olympic gymnastics: 3 must-see venues from past games

By Patricia Duffy | April 25, 2020
Olympic gymnastics: 3 Must-see venues from past games
Courtesy sport-olympic.gr

Before there were vibrant green and pink Olympic gymnastics arenas staged on podium, gymnasts competed at the world’s biggest sporting event on grass turf, in amphitheaters, and even within ancient ruins!

Keep scrolling to travel back in time and explore the venues of gymnastics’ past!

1. Early 1900s – Grass playing fields

A far cry from the gymnastics meets of today, events in the early 1900s were highlighted by team performances in which countries went to battle on the grass field of the Olympic stadium.

The event looked more like a middle school gym class than the Olympic events of modern day.

The focus for the women’s competition was on balance, teamwork, and poise. The women performed synchronized skills like arabesques and jumping jacks, while incorporating dance elements into the routines. The men’s competition featured familiar favorites like vault and parallel bars, as well as interesting additions like rope climbing and sidehorse vault that didn’t make the cut as the sport evolved.

2. Waldbühne Amphitheater– Berlin 1936

Still in use today, the Berlin Waldbühne was built for the 1936 Olympic Games and hosted all of the gymnastics events for those games.

The layout of Waldbühne’s stage at the 1936 Games marked the transition to the podium-esque environment that is now synonymous with gymnastics. This would be the last time Olympic gymnastics was conducted outdoors, according to sports-reference.com.

Today, Waldbühne looks… well, basically the same, almost a century later. The venue is known nationally and internationally as a favorite concert destination and is popular for artists in the rock, pop, and classical genres.

3. Baths of Caracalla – Rome 1960

Arguably the most stunning Olympic gymnastics venue of all time, the Baths of Caracalla were the second largest Roman public baths when they were built between AD 210 and 220, during the reign of Emperor Caracalla.

In addition to hosting the gymnastics events of the 1960 Games, the baths were also used for the Rome Grand Prix in the 1940s and 1950s.

The baths were in operation until the 530s, after which they fell into disrepair and ruin. Today, the ruins are still a popular tourist attraction and occasional concert venue.

What is your all-time favorite Olympic gymnastics venue? Comment below and let us know!