10 Ancient Theatres of Greek Roman Antiquity



Scattered around the Mediterranean lie the remains of the ancient theaters of the Greek and Roman world. The Greek theaters were large, open-air structures constructed on the slope of a hill. Roman theaters, although heavily influenced by the Greeks, have specific differences, such as being built upon their own foundations.


The theater originates from the city-state of Athens where it was used for festivals honoring the god Dionysus and the famous Athenian tragedy, comedy, and satyr plays. The Romans, being a little bit less philosophical in spirit than the Greek, wanted more pure entertainment with lots of laughs and excitement. Popular entertainments in Roman times included mime plays, acrobatics, jugglers, animal fights and gladiator fights although the later two were more common in the Roman amphitheater.

10.Greco-Roman Theatre


Taormina was a Greek colony on the east coast of the island of Sicily. The theater of Taormina was built by the Greeks in the 2nd century BC and restructured and widened by the Romans. The ancient theatre is beautiful situated, overlooking the bay of Naxos and mount Etna. Today it is the center of the Taormina’s international film festival.

9.Jerash Theatres


Jerash is a popular archaeological site in Jordan, second only to Petra. The city’s golden age came under Roman rule and the site is now generally acknowledged as one of the best preserved Roman provincial towns in the world. Jerash contains not one but two Roman theatres. The north theatre, with a capacity of 1600, was built in 165 AD and was mainly used as the city council chamber. The larger south theatre was built between 90-92 AD and could seat more than 3000 spectators.


8.Odeon of Herodes Atticus


The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, cut into the southern slope of the Athenian Acropolis, was built in 161 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife. The structure was used as a theatre in ancient Athens for various plays and music concerts. It originally had a wooden roof and could seat up to 5,000 people.

7.Roman Theatre of Merida


According to an inscription, the Roman Theatre of Merida in present-day Spain was built in 16 BC by order of Agrippa, a general and friend of emperor Augustus. The ancient theatre could house up to 6,000 spectators. In later centuries the theater underwent several restorations which introduced new architectonic elements and decorations. The structure was restored to the current state in the 1960s-1970s.

6.Theatre of Sabratha


Located in Libya, Sabratha’s was established around 500 BC as a Phoenician trading-post and reched its peak under Roman rules as a coastal outlet for the products of the African hinterland. The Theatre of Sabratha was built in the 2n century AD. The structure appears largely intact owing to its reconstruction by Italian archaeologists in the 1930s. The theatre had 25 entrances and could seat approximately 5,000 spectators.

Continue on next page …

Prev1 of 2Next