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

Dmytro Lytvynenko (6 months ago)
Very popular place an must have to visit. It's old theater and also here a good view for city and other historical monuments. Enter price about 12 euro. Here special atmosphere, I imagined how it was a long time ago!
anulina taka-sobie (6 months ago)
I saw a stone chair there and I really imagined Dionizos sitting there!! Each stone has its own story! This place had been on my bucket list for a long time. Finally I am here! ?
Miikka Uusipaikka (7 months ago)
I wish I would have been there. Just a magnificent view and I could just jump directly to the age of ancient Greece! The whole place is unbelievable and to imagine what kind of imagination those guys had at the time. Also the whole geometry of the seating and the view to the stage is amazing. Would love to see something similar nowadays with a theatre show! Restoration is going great and happy to see that they keep this place in good check! Visit Greece, stay nice to each other and mind the slippery stones :) all the best, the travelling man!
Brett LeFever (7 months ago)
Stunning ancient theater. Great energy. Great history. Beautiful historic site.
Jaque C. Ribeiro (8 months ago)
The Acropolis was the most beautiful and interesting site we visited in Athens. It is big and all the most famous atractions are inside it.
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