Roman Theatre

Cartagena, Spain

The Roman Theatre in Cartagena was built between 5 and 1 BCE, as has been proven by the dedication of the edifice to Gaius and Lucius Caesar, grandsons of Augustus, who had designated them as his successors.

In the 3rd century a market was built over the theatre, reusing its materials, with a semicircular open space which followed the plan of the orchestra. The market was perhaps abandoned after a fire caused by the Vandals in 425. A market quarter of the Byzantines was established on the site in the 6th century.

During the 13th century the Old Cathedral of the city was built over the upper cavea. In 1988 the first remains of the theatre were discovered during the construction of the Centro regional de artesanía. The archaeological excavations and the restorations were completed in 2003. In 2008 a museum, designed by Rafael Moneo, was opened.

The cavea was carved directly on the rocks in its central part, and tops a series of vaulted galleries. It had a capacity of some 6,000 spectators. It was divided horizontally in three parts (imamedia and summa cavea), in turn divided into radial sectors by the staircases (five in the upper part, seven in the medium and upper ones).

The public entered from two side passages (aditus), where the dedications have been found. The orchestra had a semicircular plan and housed three rows of wooden seats for the authorities (proedria). The stage (proscaenium) had a length of 43.60 m. The scaenae frons had three semicircular exedras and decorated by two orders of columns, with bases and capitals in Luni's marble, and shaft in pink travertine of Mula. The stage edifice had a total height of 14.60 m. It have been found three round altars dedicated to the Capituline Triad and to the divinities of Apollo (Graces, Muses and Horae), as well as a statue of Apollo with lyre and one of Rhea Silvia.

Behind the stage building was a portico (porticus post scaenam) with a double porticoed gallery revolving around a central room housing a garden.



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Founded: 5 BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Spain

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User Reviews

Malcolm Thomas (16 months ago)
Just amazing only discovered in 1990 after being built over . Go through the museum to enter, this also well worth it. Very quiet when we visited on a winter week day. Highly recommended. Mind you the whole city of Cartagena is wonderful. Lots to do and see. Great history.
Stephen Arlaud (2 years ago)
This landmark Roman Theater is a must do while in Cartagena. The only way to actually go in the theater, is to pay at the entrance to the Roman Theater Museum. You can walk down some of the original steps down to the stage area. You can see the actual seats. It's an amazing landmark you should see. We went on a tour of the city through Princess Cruises. You may be able to see this from the Torres Castle way up on the hill but it's nothing like being right in the theater.
Bobby Jack (2 years ago)
It's Amazing to think that this was only rediscovered in 1988. Interesting history dating back over 2000 years. The parking is fairly simple. We parked along the seafront and walked around the block. Parking was around €2.50 which gave us ample parking for a stroll and some lunch. We didn't buy the tickets to go inside but you can see all of the outside of the amphitheatre from outside of the fences. We walked up to the viewpoint at the top of the hill next to the castle where you can see right across the town and the bay area. Well worth a visit.
Michaela Barnard (2 years ago)
A return visit to this epically beautiful place. This is part original and part restored and its obvious where restoration has taken place but its been done so well. The grandness of the place, the beauty and history is wonderful. The museum before you get to the actual theatre is so informative as you find out the various iterations of function of this place. We will come back again!
Phil Dunn (2 years ago)
Interesting trip through the museum, but the real attraction is walking through the amphitheatre, up to the top, and taking in the views. I would also recommend taking a left turn out of the exit, up the steps and heading right up to the very top of the hill (where the tall metal spikes can be seen). Had we not done so we would have missed out on some great sights and amazing views of the whole city! Worth also mentioning that we got our tickets from the boat travel ticket box on the front of the marina and found the prices very reasonable. I'm not sure if the price was different from buying at the museum, but it meant we did not have to queue to get in, which is worth it for that alone.
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