The first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens on April 6, 1896. King Georgios I of Greece and 60,000 spectators welcomed 280 athletes from 13 countries.
The Games featured 43 events. Track-and-field events were held at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, which was built in 330 B.C.
The marathon competition followed the 26.2-mile route run by ancient Greek soldier Pheidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C. to announce the Greeks’ victory in the Battle of Marathon.
Several great books exist about the first modern Olympics in Athens:
Google is honoring the anniversary today with a series of doodles. See them and other historic images from 1896 here: