A two-euro coin commemorating the 2011 Special Olympics World Games in Athens joins three previous coins with a Greek connection, one each marking the 2,500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon, 10th anniversary of the euro and 2004 Olympic homecoming.
Images from eurodesigncontest.eu, rsmint.com, europa.eu, athens2011.org
*Article last updated November 24, 2011
2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games
One million commemorative euro coins were minted to celebrate the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, during which 185 nations gathered to compete from June 25-July 4, 2011.
On the coin is the logo. “A radiant sun,” the source of life; an olive branch depicting excellence; and a spiral representing the center of the sun and its power — all elements that describe athletes taking part in the Games.
“Colors reflect the Greek landscape and project emotions like passion for life in the warm red, optimism in the orange, determination in the blue, freedom in the light blue and hope in the green.” — Organizing Committee for the Special Olympics
25th Centenary of the Battle of Marathon
With a bird in the background to symbolize the birth of western civilization, the coin features a running warrior representing not just the battle for freedom but also the determination, endurance and daring it took to emerge victorious at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., despite being outnumbered.
The word ‘marathon’ to most people is a running event, but to Greeks and Philhellenes it is a place of historical significance and a word stirring filotimo. Read, “Spirit of democracy & Greek classicism born in the Battle of Marathon.”
10th Anniversary of the EMU
The European Monetary Union (EMU) marked its 10th anniversary by issuing a commemorative coin on January 1, 2009 with a design from the Bank of Greece.
Amongst five finalists chosen by eurozone mint directors, Greek sculptor George Stamatopoulos won 41.48 percent of 141,675 votes cast by EU citizens and residents until polls closed on February 22, 2008.
“The euro is the latest step in the long history of trade, from prehistoric barter – evoked by the deliberately primitive design – to economic and monetary union,” said Stamatopoulos.
Four million are in circulation, though I’ve only seen one since the release date. I kept it.
Athens 2004 Olympics
Greece made eurozone history by being the first country to issue a commemorative coin on March 14, 2004, in celebration of the Olympics returning home.
It features a popular work by Athenian sculptor Myron called ‘Discobolos’ (discus thrower) in the nude*, which is how Olympic athletes competed in ancient times. ‘Discobolos’ was also used on the 1000 drachma note from 1987 until Greece officially entered the eurozone on January 1, 2001.
With 50 million coins in circulation, the Athens 2004 coin is the highest minted commemorative release to date.
*The word gymnasium comes from the Greek word gymnos, meaning naked.
About commemorative coins
All eurozone countries have the option to mint a commemorative coin once a year to bring attention to historical or current events, displaying a unique design on its national side. It can only be used on the two-euro denomination, which advantageously offers the largest palette.
Twelve stars on the coin’s outer rim mirror the European Union’s 12 stars in a circle, symbolizing unity, solidarity and harmony amongst the people of Europe.
Commemorative coins have become collectibles but are different from collectors coins, which are minted with precious metals.
“Battle of Marathon commemorative coin” — Royal Scandinavian Mint
“Winner of EMU 10th Anniversary contest” — EuroDesignContest.eu
“€2 Commemorative coins” — European Central Bank
“Symbols of the EU” — europa.eu
“Commemorative euro coins” — Bank of Greece
“Commemorative coins of Greece” — europa.eu
“2011 Paralympic coin” — Eleftherotypia
“New 2012 Commemorative Coin” — Ministry of Finance
To those who sent me private comments, I’m aware that another person started calling herself American in Athens and published a similar post within 1-2 hours of mine. This isn’t the first time, and I tried addressing the issue but the parasitical behavior has not stopped. Just ignore or de-add her. Thank you for your concern.
This is an older article that has been revamped and expanded. Past comments refer to the original post on February 27, 2008 at 7:17 that debated the winning design of the EMU’s 10th anniversary coin. New comments welcome.