6 Favorite Olympic Torches

We asked two experts for their top torch picks.

Lighting the cauldron with the torch—here in Sydney, Australia, in 2000—signals the games have begun.

We asked two experts—Anthony Bijkerk, secretary-general of the International Society of Olympic Historians, and Donald Rooney, director of exhibitions at the Atlanta History Center, which includes the Centennial Olympic Games Museum—to name their favorite Olympic torches.

Here is a list based on their choices:

1. Berlin, 1936. "It speaks to pomp and circumstance and propaganda and is the first torch relay of the Olympic movement," Rooney says. "The stylized eagle holding the Olympic rings in its sharp talons is a frightening harbinger to what would come from Berlin in other ways."

2. Helsinki, 1952. "Nothing special about the design," Bijkerk comments. "But it's rare and expensive."

3. Sydney, 2000. Both men liked this one. "Perhaps the most elegant design. Based on the Sydney Opera House, and the first torch to burn under water," says Bijkerk.

4. Moscow, 1980. Rooney likes this one because of the Cyrillic inscription, "but more so, because of the association with the U.S. boycott of the games."

5. Lillehammer, 1994. "A special design, 154 centimeters high, about as tall as a big man. Also because the last runner sailed down the ramp of a ski jump holding it," Bijkerk says.

6. Seoul, 1988. "The most beautiful torch in our collection," says Rooney. "The bowl is brass, engraved with two dragons symbolizing harmony between east and west."