We have here a spectacular example of the historical sedimentation-stratification process so often found in Rome.
First a theatre of the ancient Rome started under Caesar and finished under emperor August in 13 B.C., then in the Middle Ages the building was used as a fortress and later in the 16th c. transformed into a palace for the family Savelli, later for the Orsini.
When I see the apartments on the upper floors I think it must be a strange feeling to live there with the ancient arcades below one's windows.
On the lower floor were a number of shops and houses demolished around 1930 when the monument was renovated.
There were at the origin 41 arcades with 42 half-columns decorated with travertine marble. One third remains visible. At the ground floor the half-columns have a Doric capital, on the first floor an Ionic one, the second floor, no more existing, had probably Corinthian capitals. Overall height was about 32 m of which 20 m remain.
It was a quite large theatre with a semi-circular seating area of 130 meters in diameter and could contain about 14.000 persons. From the stage on the side of the Tiber nothing is left.
At the inauguration by emperor August who dedicated the theatre to the memory of his nephew Marcus Claudius Marcellus a funny incident happened as reported by Suetone: the curule chair of the emperor collapsed and August fell backwards.
In day time you can make a tour of the theatre and of the adjoining archaeological area.
My view on the Theatre of Marcellus is from the terrace of the cafeteria-restaurant of the Capitoline museum.
These lovely remains lie across the road from the Capitoline Hill.
The idea for the theatre came from Julius Caesar who had just defeated his enemy Pompey and wanted a building to celebrate his victory. The theatre was completed by the Emperor Augustus after Julius Caesar's death. it was called after Marcellus the son of Augustus Caesar's sister - Octavia who died young.
The theatre was completed in 11 BC. It was more than 30 meters high. It could accommodate more than 14,000 spectators.
Apartments are now joined onto the theatre. Behind the theatre is the Jewish area with many restaurants.
We stumbled into this corner of Rome in 2007 with no clue what we were looking at: nothing to explain the tumbled stones and cracked pillars that lay on the very doorsteps of centuries-old residential flats. Some digging after I got home uncovered the history of a great Roman theater, temples and processional portico later employed as a Medieval market and successively enclosed by the 16-century walls of the Jewish ghetto. I had a small-world moment some years later when a talented young lady who interned at my office told me she helped design some very nice signage, thankfully now in place, for her senior, semester-abroad project.
The theater was Julius Caesar’s green-eyed response to the current giant in open-air performance stages: Teatro di Pompey. In a fine bit of irony, he never lived to see his jealous vision to fruition and was assassinated in the curia of the very complex he was determined to outshine. The Theater of Marcellus, named for Julius' successor’s heir, Marcus Marcellus - who also didn’t live to see the final nail hammered - was completed some 30 years later and achieved the mission of being the largest in Rome. More recently it was converted into posh apartments. Gosh, I sure hope they updated the plumbing?
Across from the theater are three remaining columns from a temple of Apollo, and just a stroll up the street are the remains of Portico di Ottavia: a triumphal passageway of temples, library and governmental meeting space (curia). The complex was named in honor of Augustus' sister, and in the Middle Ages became a working-class center for fishmongers, rope-makers, metalsmiths and whatnot.
There are a few wonderful Medieval buildings along this narrow thoroughfare, and the whole mess lies within an area that’s been the heart of the Jewish community for over 400 years. This is an especially picturesque neighborhood for a wander, and VT members of the faith would be interested visiting the Great Synagogue right behind (south) Octavia's ancient campus.
The ruins are free to explore and these links provide 360-degree peeks at ‘em.
The three Corinthian white marble columns contrast with the dark grey arcades of the theatre of Marcellus. Not surprising they stand in front of the theatre only since 1940 although a temple dedicated to Apollo Medicus was build here in the 5th c. B.C. apparently after a plague.
I'm tempted to connect this ancient veneration to Apollo Medicus with the nearby church of Santa Maria in Campitelli where a icon of the Virgin Mary protecting from the plague is worshipped since the 17th c.
The three columns belonged to a temple built here much later in 34 B.C. by Caius Sosius, proconsul of Syria, called temple of Apollo Sosianus after him.
The stairs of this temple were demolished upon the construction of the theatre of Marcellus which is very close.
The columns (14 m high) belonged to the naos of this temple and were found during the excavations in 1937 at the theatre of Marcellus. They were recovered in the position they had fallen inside the arches of the theatre and raised on the remains of the podium.
There is another temple of Apollo on the Palatine hill.
The ruins of the Theatre of Marcellus and its nearby Porticus of Octavia were the surprise find of our trip to Rome. These excavated sites received very little or no press in our guide books and we happened on them on our way to the Jewish Ghetto. Both sites are free for the viewing, making this a budget friendly site for looking at ancient Roman ruins.
We entered the theatre area from the ramp in front of the Porticus of Octavia which led us to the gravel path through the ruins area and out the gate on via del Teatro di Marcello which is just south of the Victtorio Emanuele II monument and the Capitoline Hill.
The first thing we saw were the three white columns that remain from the Temple of Apollo Medicus. This temple was built in 433 BC and restored in 33 BC – imagine seeing something that was restored! History can be amazing and in Rome it seems to come to life before our eyes. We appreciated looking at the three columns, particularly at the base where it was obvious that the builders used brick to lay the foundation and only covered it with marble – I’m sure cost was a consideration even then.
After looking at the columns, we turned around and looked at the Theatre of Marcellus. This structure is a triple level structure of which only the original façade remains, and of that façade, only 12 of the original 41 arches remain. These arches are created with Doric columns at the bottom level, Ionic columns in the middle, and it is believed that there was a third level with Corinthian columns, although that level no longer exists.
The Theatre is a good example of how the people of Rome would convert the ancient structures into modern day buildings. The Theatre was originally built around 10 BC by Augustus (although it was planned by Julius Caesar) in honor of his nephew, son of his sister Octavia, and could house as many as 15,000 spectators. It was later restored and pillaged (Romans were also good about using these ancient structures as their home repair supply headquarters). In the Middle Ages, the theatre became a fortress for the Orsini family and was studied by Renaissance architects. Later in the 1500s the theatre became a palace. It was later restored in the early 1900s. While most of the structure has been demolished, the rounded façade still stands today.
Teatro Marcello (Theater of Marcellus) is the only ancient theater left in Rome. The idea for this theater was originally by Julius Caesar and later on built by Augustus, honoring Marcello, son of his sister Octavia who died at the age of 20. It was of huge proportions and its original structure could accommodate up to 20.000 spectators. From it all structure remained a part of the curved exterior wall with an double row of Doric and Ionic arches.
To the right of the theater rise three columns from the Temple of Apollo Sosiano. Nearby are the remains of the Portico di Ottavia.
“Whatever beauty there may be in a Roman ruin is the remnant of what was beautiful originally … If we ever build such noble structures as these Roman ones, we can have just as good ruins, after two thousand years, in the United States.”
— from the 1858 “French and Italian Note-Books” of Nathaniel Hawthorne
NEW VS. OLD How would we ever know what sort of ruins the United States would have? Very little is ever allowed to stay standing for more than 100 years, or much less. At the slightest sign of age, Americans tear down a building and put up another. That is not how things are done in Rome; after all it was not built in a day.
In 22 BC, Caesar Augustus resumed a building project begun by his uncle, Julius Caesar, in 44 BC, the year he was assassinated. This theater, the largest of the Roman Empire, was dedicated in 13 BC and named Theatrum Marcelli in memory of Marcellus, the son of Augustus’ sister Octavia. Marcellus was the intended heir of Augustus, but he died at a young age. When completed in 11 BC, the 98-foot high, semi-circular theater could accommodate more than 14,000 spectators.
By the 12th century, the theater was owned by the Favvi family, who turned it into a fortress. By the early 16th century, the Orsini family had transformed the building into a palazzo. Today the upper portion is divided into apartments (see photos #1 & #2); if we move to Rome, this would be the place to live.
The three columns (see photo #3), next to Theatre of Marcellus (Latin: Theatrum Marcelli, Italian: Teatro di Marcello), were part of the Temple of Apollo Sosianus. Its present name comes from the man in charge of its final rebuilding, Gaius Sosius. The current full-height columns were part of a reconstruction project undertaken during Augustus’s reign.
Whilst the greatest concentration of the remains of classical Rome are to be found around the Capitoline and Palatine Hills - the heart of the ancient city in both its Republican and Imperial periods, there are few places in the inner area of the city that don't have some important relic nearby. Some you'll note in passing and think to yourself - Oh I must go there - but, whether you get back to them or not will depend on the time you have in the city and what other distractions tempt you off in other directions.
Places I noted but never got back to included
The Theatre of Marcellus. How many times did we pass this, in a bus, in a taxi, in a friend's car? It got to be something of a joke - oh,oh - here it comes again. Named for Augustus' putative heir who pre-deceased him, it was the largest theatre in the city - all we ever saw of it was the curved facade on Via del Teatro Marcello - again, and again and again.
Trajan's Column - another landmark, in Trajan's Forum, Via dei Fori Imperiali, right next to the Piazza Venezia. One of the few ancient monuments to have remained undamaged through the centuries, I remember spending an age here on an earlier visit, examining the details of the reliefs that spiral up its 30 metres - a wonderful record of Roman life. This time I noted it, photographed it , and never got back to it.
Castel Sant' Angelo - now this one really would have been hard to miss. The biggest Roman structure after the Colosseum, built as a tomb for the Emperor Hadrian, converted into papal fortress in the Middle Ages, a one-time prison topped by a huge bronze angel, now a museum but in my mind forever associated with Tosca's dramatic leap to her death from its ramparts. Ah, the drama of it all - but we didn't find time to go in.
Largo di Torre Argentina - nothing to do with dashing gauchos, this busy street and rather scruffy square is home to four Republican-era temples, and a lot of cats. It's also the place Julius Caesar should have stayed away from on the Ides of March. We drove through it, and kept on driving.
Ara Pacis - Augustus' great white marble Peace Altar, now housed in a newly opened, and somewhat controversial, pavilion of glass and marble just as dazzlingly white as the altar it encloses. We really did try to get back to this one, having passed in several times as we drove along beside the Tiber. MrL was really keen, but his work schedule kept him busy and I was waiting for him to be free. Next time .... for now, the website will give you up-to-date information to help you be more successful than we were.
A great theater of antiquity, it was built in the last quarter of the 1s Century BC. It was inaugurated by Augustus in 12 BC. It was later held as a fortress from then11th theough 13th Centuries before a palace was built atop of it in the 16th Century. It remains however, one of the finest examples of Roman Architecture from the Republican Era.
Remains of the Porticus Octaviae, a four-sided Ancient Roman portico (quadriportico) are still majestically standing to this day. The existing structure dates from around 200 AD, when the portico was rebuilt by Septimius Severus, but it had been dedicated by Augustus to his sister Octavia since 27 BC. A previous portico existed on the site since the second century BC. Although altered slightly over time, the current structure is largely intact and has been incorporated into the construction of an adjacent church (Sant'Angelo in Pescheria). In its former glory, the portico was part of a larger complex which included two temples and two libraries. The Portico is hidden behind the Theatre of Marcellus (Teatro di Marcello), at the edge of the Ghetto of Rome. In ancient Rome, this part was the southern section of Campus Martius.
We purchased a painting of the Temple of Apollo from a street artist, which makes this monument a little more special to us. The 3 remaining columns are beautiful.
Next to the Temple is the Theatre of Marcellus. I am told that free tours are given during the day, but as you can see from the picture we were there at night. The lit columns and arches and night are beautiful themselves though.
Upscale apartments have been built atop the Theatre of Marcellus. That would be a great place to live!
We were planning to go here,and had thought that it takes an hour or so,but it is closed to public!At guidebooks I had,there wasn´t told that,and it came as an surprice.We walked around it,but since you couldn´t get in,it was quickly seen.
Three white marble columns topped by a frieze from the Temple of Apollo Sosianus stand to this day next to the Theatre of Marcellus. A temple dedicated to Apollo existed on the site since the 5th century BC, though the surviving columns are from the reconstruction work that occurred four centuries later (1st century BC). These standing columns were re-erected only in 1940 near the original location of the temple. They had been discovered by accident in the '30s, during the demolition of buildings on the site in a project aimed at exposing the original walls of the adjacent Theatre of Marcellus.
Built in 23 BC by Augustus in honour of his nephew Marcellus, il Teatro di Marcello was Rome's most popular theatre for a century until the Colosseum was built. Once upon a time, it could hold 20,000 spectators, but it has now been reduced to an intact ruin which was incorporated into the construction of later edifices. The theatre has a prominent position on Via del Teatro di Marcello, by the Tiber River, and next to the three surviving columns from the Temple of Apollo. In ancient Rome, this area lay at the southern end of Campus Martius.
Just to the left, seen from the Capitolium, the Teatro Marcello is located. The first thing I thought about when I saw it was Colloseum, which is natural since this theater was the model for the much more famous building.
Teatro Marcello was built on the orders of Julius Caesar, and is the only remaining theater of it's kind from the ancient Rome.
Caesar wanted this theatre to be built, to draw attention away from the theaters in Pompeii, whom he wasn't best friend with.
It was Augustus who made the building, and he then named it after his daughter's husband, Marcello who tragedly died, only 19 years old.
I would say it's a very impressive monument, at the side of it you can clearly see it has been re-built later on, but most of the theater is still in original shape. On the side of it there are still excavations made.
On one of the photos you can see three columns, who are a piece of Apollon's temple. In there the romans put a lot of the art treasure that they had taken from the greeks in the 100s BC.
Teatro Marcello could hold up to 20 000 spectators, where the senators always had their own seats on the first row.
It's mostly spectacular in the evening, when lamps light up the whole building. As far as I could understand it's not impossible to enter, or even look inside. But also only the outside of it is very impressive as you can see on the photos.