Built between 161-174 AD by the Roman Consul Herodes Atticus, the relatively small (5000 seats) is still in use today and is a major venue in the Athens Festival. The semi-circular stage was repaved in the 1950s - so the blue and white paving is hardly part of the original! In addition, the theatre was enclosed with a wooden roof for acoustic reasons.
The theatre was built in 161 AD in memory of Herodes widow. It was built as an ampitheatre, with a 3 story stone front and a wood roof over the theatre. It was rebuilt in the 1950's and has since been used for summer concerts. It seats about 5000 people.
The theatre is located at the base of the Akropolis. It is the theatre that has not been rebuilt like its neighbor. It was built in the 6th century BC and is thought to be the oldest theatre in Europe. It held about 17000 people and once housed plays by the famous Greek playwrites, Sophocles and Euripides, as well as being the birthplace of the Greek tragedies.
From Akropolis metro most guide books say to access the Acropolis by walking to the western entrance. We instead bought our tickets (12 Euro - which you keep to access most archeological sites in Athens) at the Theatre of Dionysos and walked up via the Acropolis' southern slope.
The city of Athens’ cultural showcase is the two-phase Athens Hellenic Festival, held every summer since 1955 at the magnificent 2000 year old Herod Atticus Odeon.
The ancient tiered theatre nestles at the foot of the Acropolis and during summer and autumn resounds each evening to the tune of symphony orchestras, classical drama and dance, and opera performances. The large and varied programme of international and Greek artists is available from the Athens Festival office on Stadiou Street or from the site of the Hellenic Festival
The summer section of the festival runs from June to July with performances starting at 9pm, while the autumn section covers August and September, with shows starting at 8.30pm.
The gallery of Eumenus connected the Theatre of Dionysus with The Odeion of Herodes Attikus. It was the third odeion to be built in Athens 160-157 AD after the Odeion of Perikles and that of Agrippa. It was erected by Herodes in memory of his wife Regilla, who died in 160 AD.
The Odeion of Herodes, also known as the Herodeion, is shaped as a semicircular theatre, with a radius of 38 metres and it can seat around 5.000 people. The facade, 28 metres high, was massive having a width of 2,40 metres. The wall of the scene was lavishly decorated with architectural marble elements. The public seats also were made of marble and the front of the three story stage was richly decorated with columns and niches. The roof must have been made of cedar wood.
The Odeion was destroyed during the invasion of the Herulae who also destroyed most of the city's monuments in 267 AD.
Excavations at the sanctuary of Dionysos started in 1838 by the Greek Archaeological Society and lasted for about a century. They brought to light the theatre and the greater part of the sanctuary which includes the two temples of Dionysos.
The excavations at the Odeion of Perikles were carried out almost sixty years ago and revealed a large building with many columns. The excavations, conducted by Kastriotes (1914-1927) and Orlandos (1928-1931), revealed the north side of the building and five column bases at the NE corner.
The excavations at the Asklepieion were conducted in 1875-76 by the Greek Archaeological Service under the direction of St. Koumanoudis and uncovered the Early Christian basilicas and remains of the most important buildings of the sanctuary.
Whereas the Acropolis was the spiritual centre, the south slope of the Acropolis has been the intellectual centre of Athens since the 6th century BC. When Peisistratos brought the worship of Dionysos to Athens, a sanctuary of Dionysos Eleutherios was built. The small temple contained the wooden statue of the god. In the 4th century BC a gallery was built as well as a new temple holding the golden and ivory statue of Dionysos.
North of the sanctuary, Peisistratos had a circular space constructed for dances to the honour of Dionysos. That space was later used to build the Theatre of Dionysos, originally made of wood but a century later replaced by seats of stone and a permanent stage was added. The theatre was destroyed and rebuilt twice, once in 86 BC by Sulla and again in 267 AD by the Herulae.
The Theatre of Dionysos was the very first theatre in the world. It also was the place were works of the famous classic drama writers were performed.
The south slope of the Acropolis played a significant role in the artistic, spiritual and religious activity of ancient Athens. Important public buildings were erected in the area: the Odeion of Perikles, the sanctuary and theatre of Dionysos, the choregic monuments, the Asklepieion, the stoa of Eumenes and the Odeion of Herodes Atticus.
Recently, architectural members in the orchestra and the retaining wall of the east parodos of the Dionysos Theatre were restored.
The Theatre of Herodes Atticus, or Odeon, was built between 160 and 157 B.C. The rich Herodes ordered to built this theatre in memory of his wife, who died in 160 B.C.
It was used as a place for music and theatre plays. It was used much more often that its big neighbour, the Theatre of Dionysos, for the simple reason that an audience of 5.000 people was attracted more easily.
Especially the wall behind the stage used to be spectacular. There were lots of sculptures in the marble, and at the inside it was covered with wood. There also used to be a roof over the theatre, with a diameter of 38 metres, made of wood.
Nowadays there still are music plays in this theatre. Big international and national stars have played here last years.
The theatre of Dionysos, at the south slope of the Acropolis is known as the oldest theatre of Europe. It was built in the 6th century B.C.
The theatre wasn´t used much by the Athenian citizens. Most of the time they played in the Theatre a few hundred metres away: the Theatre of Herodes Atticus. The
Theatre of Dionysos was used mostly for the Greek tragedy plays. Plays of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylos had their premiere here, with an audience of 17.000 people! Funny thing is that all the players in these days were male. So even female roles were performed by men.
Today only the lower part of the theatre is cleared of grass and flowers. But still you can see the enormous sizes that is used to have in those days.
In the back of the theatre, behind the stage, you´ll see a will with statues. One of these statues is the statue of Satire, the personification of comedy-plays. It´s easy to recognise it: it´s the most ugly man you can find. Another interesting thing to see are the seats at the first row. These are much more beautiful then the others in the theatre and they all have the name on it, of the VIP person that used to sit in this place.
Constructed in 161 AD the Odeion was founded by Tiberius Claudius Herodos Atticus, a noble and generous citizen of Athens.
The Odeion's stage was 35.40 m long and the orchestra was 18.80 m in diameter. Its audience consisted of 32 rows and could hold up to 5000 people.
At present the Odeion is used during the Festival of Athens.
The audience area of the theatre (cavea) was built on southenr slope of the Acropolis. It was then rebuilt in 4th century BC to the shape more or less preserved to these times.
The depth of the audience is 90 m and its greater length is 100 m. Originally it was capable of holding as many as 17,000 persons.
The worst thing is that I did not take a picture of the theatre :(
Still in use today is the Roman Theatre of Herodes Atticus. It seats 5,000 and was built between 161 and 174. The colonnade once displayed statues of the 9 muses, and there was a roof made of cedar to allow for better acoustics and performance year-round.
The theatre was excavated in 1857 and restored between 1950 and 1961, including the addition of blue and white marble slabs on the orchestra. Many famous names have performed there since. Check with the box office if you are interested in seeing a performance.
The Theatre of Dionysos is located on the Acropolis' south slope. The first theatre was built there in the 6th century BC for the festival of the Great Dionysia, which became one of the biggest events in Athens. During the Golden Age, tragedies by Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides and comedies by Aristophanes were performed there.
Between 342 BC and 326 BC, the theatre was reconstructed in stone by Lykourgos. The Romans added on, making it a 64 tier, 17,000 seat capacity theatre. They used it for gladiators. Under Emperor Nero in the 1st century, the marble floor was added. In the 2nd century, scenes from the life of Dionysos were added to the front of the stage.