The courtyard of the palaestra at Olympia (left) and a colonnade (right)

A palaestra was a building in ancient Greece. It is the place where wrestling was taught and practiced. It consisted of a large square or rectangular courtyard. This courtyard was open to the sky. It was surrounded by colonnades. Off these colonnades were dressing rooms, lecture rooms, bath rooms, and rooms for storing equipment. Wrestlers practiced under the colonnades in all weathers.

Palaestras were often near gymnasiums. They were sometimes a part of gymnasium complexes. Most cities in the Greek world had a palaestra. Large cities may have had several. Some palaestras were privately owned. Most were built with taxes. The palaestra was very much a part of the everyday lives of Greek men and boys. Some men felt as much affection for the palaestra they grew up in as modern men feel for their alma mater. Some men were buried in their favorite palaestra.[1]

What was a palaestra?

A palaestra was a building in ancient Greece where wrestling was taught and practiced. The word palaestra is based on the Greek word pale, which means wrestling.[2] From the sixth century BC through the end of the Roman Imperial age, palaestras were built throughout Greece.[3] The earliest ones were privately owned, but by the fifth century BC public ones were being built.[4] Almost every Greek city had at least one palaestra and some large cities had several.[2]

Palaestras were often located near or were attached to gymnasiums. The gymnasium probably first appeared in the sixth century BC.[4] Both were often referred to simply as "the gymnasium".[2] Greek historian, biographer, and essayist Plutarch writes that a palaestra was used solely for wrestling and the pankration, a sport similar to but much rougher than wrestling. Boxing was taught and practiced in the gymnasium.[3] Retired athletes owned and operated small palaestras. Greek males of all ages joined palaestras. Elderly (old) men sometimes had their own palaestras.[5]

Other Languages
català: Palestra
čeština: Palestra
dansk: Palæstra
Deutsch: Palästra
eesti: Palestra
Ελληνικά: Παλαίστρα
English: Palaestra
español: Palestra
Esperanto: Palestro (lukto)
euskara: Palestra
français: Palestre
Հայերեն: Պալեստրա
қазақша: Палестра
Latina: Palaestra
lietuvių: Palestra
magyar: Palaisztra
русский: Палестра
slovenščina: Palestra
српски / srpski: Палестра
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Palestra
suomi: Palaestra
svenska: Palaestra
українська: Палестра
中文: 角力学校