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.


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


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Anna Tarczynska (5 months ago)
When you look at this place from the ground level it does not seem that magical but it shows its full beauty and craftsmanship from the above hill of Acropolis. From there you can see the smartness of the construction and how the natural hillside was used to squeeze this theatre into it . Really great work .
Hans Solo (5 months ago)
The Theater of Dionysus in Athens is an extraordinary place that left a profound impression on me. As the cradle of ancient Greek theater, it offers a unique insight into the culture and art of the ancient Greeks. Upon entering the theater, I was instantly transported to another era. The well-preserved structures and the semi-circular arrangement of the seating rows create an atmosphere that must be experienced. It's easy to imagine how classical tragedies and comedies were once performed here, captivating the audience. The location of the theater on the southern slope of the Acropolis is also spectacular. From some of the seats, there is a magnificent view of the surrounding landscape and the Acropolis. This view surely added an extra dimension to the performances that took place here. Beyond its historical significance, the Theater of Dionysus is also a symbol of artistic innovation. It is fascinating to learn how this theater influenced the development of the performing arts and continues to serve as a source of inspiration for theater and acting today. I recommend anyone interested in history, art, or theater to visit this impressive monument. It's not just a journey into the past, but also an appreciation of the foundations of our cultural traditions.
Shanny Foo (5 months ago)
Located between the cistern and Acropolis. A remarkable historical location. It was not open when we visited but looks like it may be worth a visit when there is a live event.
Maral Kharadjian (7 months ago)
Got to view it from Acropolis visiting area. It is amazing from top viewing the stage and the seatings. Wish we had enough time to attend a concert there. Have no doubt it would have been amazing! In regard to entering Acropolis, make sure you go early when they open, or take a guided tour, in order to avoid long wait lines of an hour or so, just to get inside, if you'd like to save time.
Chris Buzz (7 months ago)
DO NOT MISS THE SOUTHERN SLOPES! we nearly did! You get it with the same ticket for the acropolis and Parthenon and the top of the hill. Enter through the 'acropolis southern slope' and then you can see so much history here and go up to the top of hill after without having to leave the complex. We didn't find this on day one and had to pay to go back in another time. It's quite hard to get here from the standard entrance for the acropolis, the best way to describe it is when you are above the first theatre (the one that is still in use) carry on forwards at the kiosk, don't go left which would make you continue up the hill and miss the south. The south has the best info boards I've seen in all Greece, each one with annotations and pictures showing you the ruins and how they looked in different times and it was so easy to picture it. Do not miss the southern slopes, amazing - and it comes with the acropolis ticket!
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