If you do make it to a live performace, you may want to bring a coat or a jumper to sit on – the ancient Greeks may not have minded, but two hours on stone seating can be trying for the modern visitor!
On the western end of the Acropolis’ southern slope lies the impressively renovated Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Capable of seating a crowd of 5,000, it was built in 161 AD by the Athenian aristocrat who gave his name to the building. Originally it had an expensive cedar of Lebanon roof, but this was destroyed when the Germanic Heruli tribe attacked Athens in 267 and destroyed many of its great buildings, including the Odeon. The damage done to the amphitheatre was not repaired as quickly as elsewhere, and it was only after a painstaking renovation in the 1950s that the Odeon was finally restored to its former glory.
An Ancient Stage
These days, the gleaming rock-cut steps descend spectacularly in front of you as you stand at the amphitheatre’s rim. From here you also have a great view out over the city itself, before wandering down to tread in the footsteps of the actors and musicians who once played here nearly 2000 years ago.
The Modern Venue
The Odeon is still used for performances today, with Frank Sinatra, Sting and Elton John all having played here at various times. If you are lucky enough to attend, the feeling of watching the spectacle on a warm evening in this ancient place will give you a more evocative experience of the ancient Greek lifestyle than can be found anywhere else on the Acropolis.
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