2 ancient amphitheatres still hosting plays today

DDiana January 31, 2024 7:03 AM

Picture this - you're in an ancient amphitheatre, under the stars, watching a play. The same stones that have echoed with the voices of actors and the applause of audiences for centuries surround you. It's not just about watching a play; it's about experiencing history and culture in its most potent form. Yes, such experiences can still be had today in two ancient amphitheatres still actively hosting plays.

Before we delve into these two iconic amphitheatres and the plays they host, let's take a brief journey into the history of amphitheatres.

A brief history of ancient amphitheatres

The word amphitheatre originates from the ancient Greek word 'amphitheatron' which means 'theatre all around'. These structures were central to public life in ancient Greece and Rome, hosting a variety of events such as plays, gladiatorial contests, and public speeches.

Now, let's uncover the two ancient amphitheatres that continue to host plays to this day.

1. The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Greece

Located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis in Athens, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theatre structure that was built in 161 AD by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife. This amphitheatre could initially seat around 5,000 people and was used for music concerts.

Today, it hosts the Athens Festival, which includes a variety of performances ranging from ancient Greek drama to contemporary plays and concerts. The Odeon also houses performances of famous international artists, making it a melting pot of the old and new.

2. The Roman Theatre of Orange, France

In the heart of Provence, the Roman Theatre of Orange is often considered the best preserved Roman theatre in Europe. Built around the 1st century AD, it could originally house around 7000 spectators.

The theatre is renowned for its fantastic acoustics and the 'Chorégies d’Orange', an annual opera festival held every summer. The festival features performances of classic operas and concerts, making the theatre come alive with the vibrancy of the arts.

To summarize, here's a quick comparison of these two amphitheatres:

Amphitheatre Location Built Capacity Events hosted
Odeon of Herodes Atticus Athens, Greece 161 AD ~5000 Athens Festival, concerts
Roman Theatre of Orange Orange, France 1st century AD ~7000 'Chorégies d’Orange' festival

Visiting these amphitheatres

Both these amphitheatres offer guided tours, allowing visitors to explore the history and architecture of these ancient sites. Remember to check the schedule of plays and performances before planning your visit. Tickets for the plays can usually be booked online or at the venue. Experiencing a play in these ancient amphitheatres is a unique opportunity to step back in time and immerse oneself in the captivating world of ancient theatre.

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