The Theatre of Dionysus was a major open air theatre in ancient Greece, built at the foot of the Acropolis and forming part of the temenos of "Dionysus Eleuthereus". Dedicated to Dionysus, the god of plays and wine (among other things), the theatre could seat as many as 17,000 people, making it an ideal location for ancient Athens' biggest theatrical celebration, the Dionysia. It became the prototype for all theatres of ancient Greece.
You may watch my high resolution photo of Acropolis on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 37º 58' 16.32" N 23º 43' 38.14" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Theatre of Dionysus .
You may watch my 6 min 35 sec VIDEO-clip Greece Athens Akropolis Slide-show with popular Greek music by Vangelis.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, also known as the Herodeion, was built in about AD 160. Today the Odeon functions as a theatre, in the summer months hosting concerts and performances of ancient drama, lyric theatre and dance as part of the Athens Festival.
During the Byzantine period, the buildings on the southern slopes of the Acropolis were incorporated in the fortifications of the citadel, the Rizokastron. The defensive wall, coming from the Propylaia, took in the outer walls of the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, the arcades of the Stoa of Eumenes and the walls of the parodoi of the Theater of Dionysos.
You may watch my high resolution photo of Acropolis on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 37º 58' 16.30" N 23º 43' 37.54" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Stoa of Eumenes .
That was it ? i asked my self when i saw it, i guess once again i had high expectations.
I don't know why but i had in mind much bigger theatre. Yes its a beautiful one no doubt but i just thought it whould be much bigger.
Its been years now that i was dreaming to see a preformence of Yanni in this Theatre, maybe I saw it on a video tape and that has gaven me this illusion ? Maybe.
However just a few facts, The theater of Herod Atticus built by the Romans in 161 AD and still used today for classical concerts, ballet, performances of high cultural value and Ofcourse.... Yanni.
Oh... and another thing about the Theatre. I think that people tend to somehow ignore it, this wall of the Theatre, its so amazing and i never seen that people do appreciate that. pity.
Perched on the south slope of the Acropolis are two massive theatres, one being the Theatre of Dionysos. This was built around 326 AD, and held over 17,000 people. Originally, there were 64 levels for seating, of which, only about 20 survive.
The entrance is only from below, and cant be reached directly from the Acropolis. Don't confuse this theatre with the Herod theatre which is very near this sight, also on the south slope of the Acropolis.
Walking into the south slope of Acropolis I saw the theatre of Dionisus, I have to admit that the first time I wasn’t impressed but when I walked up the southern slope of Acropolis I realized its size. It could seat about 17.000 people (do you realize it’s similar to Madison Square Garden in NY?!, lol). It was excavated in 1838 bringing it back to light.
Peisistratus started to honor Dionysus during 6th century BC by building a small temple for him and a few years later people were gathering at the slope for music and theatrical festivities dedicated to Dionysus) and a century later a theatre was built although it took its final shape in early 4th century BC when the wooden constructions replaced by stone.
It was here during the classic era when a big religious festival -Dionisia Festivals- took place in honor of god Dionisus (god of wine and patron of drama), with great theatrical plays (tragedies most of the time, the most famous tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristofanis, Euripides played here for the first time). The shape of the theatre used later in almost every ancient greek theatre. The theatre restored by the roman emperor Nero and as you can see it was this redesign that changed the circular orchestra (the place where the chorus danced and sang) into a semi-circular orchestra. The truth is that in our days we visit much more Herodes Atticus theatre (a few meters away) which is still in use!
I enjoyed exploring the south slope of the Acropolis more than the main site itself. It is much less crowded, of course, but also has some fascinating structures.
The Theatre of Dionysos is truly superb. Dating from the 4th century BC, this place heard the first performances of works by Aristophanes, Euripedes, Aeschylus so it is hugely evocative. It could seat 17000 people, although few of its tiers now remain. I especially liked the marble 'thrones' at the front: special seating for the wealthy and powerful (although I suspect they had cushions as well!). The frieze at the back of the performance area shows scenes from the life of Dionysos and the marble mosaic flooring is beautiful. One can so easily sit here and imagine.....
The Theatre of Herodes Atticus (second century AD) is not open to the public. It has been reconstructed and is used for modern performances. But looking at the massive exterior gives one an idea of just how impressive it once was.
The two-storied Stoa of Eumenes was once full of shops and stalls, and its size underlines what a very prosperous place ancient Athens must have been.
Other excavated structures on the site include a bronze workshop and a sanctuary to the god Asklepios. There are piles of stones everywhere, some beautifully worked, and a small exhibition of memorial bases and sculptures at the entrance.
In spring the site is lush and green, with wild flowers everywhere (and birds of prey screaming above). I really enjoyed exploring even though it was such a chilly, damp day.
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 :(
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.
At the southern foot of the Acropolis this was the first theatre built of stone & thus the birthplace of Greek tragedy. Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophones had their plays performed here in the annual festival while it was still a wooden structure. Today it is quiet and yet still wonderful.
A pedestrian avenue has been recently opened all the way around the Acropolis, at the opposite side of Plaka. You can have a very nice and relaxed walk with superb views starting at Odos Dionissiou Areopagitou (near Hadrian's Gate) and finishing near Thyssion.
There are a lot of new terraces there too, not as crowded as the ones in Plaka and with similar views...
This is a ancient theatre where actors performed, as I understand the audience did not know the show until the performance started as they briefed the actors shortly also.
From what I understand, it was not worth the expense of front row tickets as back seats are just a good.