If standing on an Olympic podium clutching a bouquet of roses and a shiny bright medal while your national anthem plays before the world is one of your dreams, your best option for that happening may be by booking a trip to Lausanne, Switzerland.
That’s where you’ll find the International Olympic Museum and a wonderful interactive exhibit for you to experience the thrill of being an Olympic athlete.
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The Olympic Museum in Lausanne Switzerland
So – why Lausanne for an Olympic Museum? Why not Athens – home of the original games? Why not Paris, where the modern games were re-introduced in 1894.
Thanks to Switzerland’s neutrality in World War I and later, World War II, the International Olympic Committee moved its headquarters from Paris to Lausanne in 1915, just as the flames of World War I crept ever closer to Paris. Leaders at the time did not want the Olympic Games – a non-political entity – to become a casualty of war.
Experiencing the International Olympic Museum
The museum is divided into three sections. Each deserves considerable attention and appreciation. The first focuses on the history of the games in a regal, travel-back-in-time experience. Seriously – this is not a display case or reader board filled with words. You walk into a near recreation of the Temple Zeus from 700 BC and experience pageantry of the warrior goddess Athena. The wrath of Emperor Theodosius as he banned the games in fourth century AD is palpable.
Then there’s some fun stuff — an exhibit on the first whistles used by Olympic referees. Another display of medal designs and how they’ve evolved over the years is kind of fun, as is the exhibit of all of the Olympic torches carried over the years. Pick one up yourself and see how far you can run with it, and then let’s think about a lighter design.
Glittery is one adjective that can be used to describe the section on costumes worn by Olympic athletes from around the world. From one simple shoe worn by Jesse Owens to Katarina Witt’s sensational dresses worn on the ice, these exhibits pulse with the energy and talent of those who wore the outfits. Props to the engineers who have designed these simple items of clothing to become precise tools in the athletes’ closets.
Your visit to the Olympic Museum could take all day. Numerous bronze sculptures of athletes from Olympic sports dot the terraces and invite playful interaction. From soccer to wrestling to gymnasts on balance beams, the spirit of the games is prevalent throughout gardens and courtyards.
Where to Stay in Lausanne Switzerland
To top off your Olympic visit to Lausanne, book a few night at the Hotel Continental, directly across the street from the Main Train Station. Posters from various games line the hallways and collections of pins are on display in the dining room. Olympic rings adorn many public places throughout the hotel.
If none of that works for you, then start training, really, really hard. It’s the only other way most of us will likely find ourselves standing on a podium with our national anthem playing before the world.
Tip: For an Olympic experience in the U.S., plan a visit to Park City, Utah.