Theatre of Dionysus

Athens, Greece

The Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus is a major theatre in Athens, built at the foot of the Athenian Acropolis. Dedicated to Dionysus, the god of plays and wine, the theatre could seat as many as 17,000 people with excellent acoustics, making it an ideal location for ancient Athens' biggest theatrical celebration, the Dionysia. It was the first theatre ever built, cut into the southern cliff face of the Acropolis, and supposedly birthplace of Greek tragedy. The remains of a restored and redesigned Roman version can still be seen at the site today. It is sometimes confused with the later, smaller, and better-preserved Odeon of Herodes Atticus, located nearby on the southwest slope of the Acropolis.

History

The site has been used as a theatre since the sixth century BC. The existing structure dates back to the fourth century BC but had many other later remodellings. The only certain evidence of this early theatre consists of a few stone blocks that were reused in the 100 century BC.

By the end of the fifth century BC, some of the wooden constructions had been replaced with stone. The Theatre of Dionysus in its present general state dates largely to the period of the Athenian statesman Lycurgus (ca. 390-325/4 BC), who, as overseer of the city's finances and building program, refurbished the theatre in stone in monumental form. The fourth century theatre had a permanent stage extending in front of the orchestra and a three-tiered seating area (theatron) that stretched up the slope.

The Theatre of Dionysus underwent a modernization in the Roman period, although the Greek theatre retained much of its integrity and general form. An entirely new stage was built in the first century CE, dedicated to Dionysus and the Roman emperor Nero. By this time, the floor of the orchestra had been paved with marble slabs, and new seats of honor were constructed around the edge of the orchestra. Late alterations carried out in the third century AD by the archon Phaedrus included the re-use of earlier Hadrianic reliefs, which were built into the front of the stage building.[The remains of a restored and redesigned Roman version of the theatre can still be seen at the site today.

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Address

Acropolis, Athens, Greece
See all sites in Athens

Details

Founded: 6th century BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Greece

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Shravya GK (17 months ago)
Theater of Dionysus is a spectacular sight in the Acropolis and perhaps the one point that is worth looking at it in addition to the Parthenon.Greece is credited to gifting the world with theater and this place is the oldest theater in the world.
Aarnoud Kerklaan (17 months ago)
Nicely preserved theater, still In use today for shows.
Romanos Daskalou (18 months ago)
A site full of history and culture. Part of the acropolis site but interesting in its own right
Dominik Kuthan (18 months ago)
Another amazing spot on slopes of Akropolis. Accessible either via main gate with a fee (covers entry to Akropolis itself), or if you walk a bit around you can circle your way around the hill and see it for free. It is also possible to take a seat here and relax for a bit, which is nice after long day of walking.
Roamer1 (19 months ago)
This site is beautiful and views better than a camera can capture. One of the first stops in Acropolis and really gets your mind straight on where you actually are. To imagine the type of things that were discussed and planned in this place makes it all the more special.
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