Entry to the Theatre of Dionysus is free with your Acropolis ticket.
The Theatre of Dionysus, on the southern slopes of the Acropolis, is widely considered to be the world’s first theatre. It was here that the cult of Dionysus, god of winemaking, fertility and ritual madness, used to hold a festival annually in his honour. Unsurprisingly, these were raucous affairs, with plenty of drunken revelry and musical and theatrical contests to keep the “worshippers” entertained. Originally the festival was held in the Athenian agora, but in the 6th century BC it was moved to the Acropolis, where a natural bowl in the hillside made for a perfect theatre. These events were the birth of drama as we know it today.
The Architectural Show Goes On
From relatively humble beginnings, with simple wooden benches used as seats, the Theatre of Dionysus grew to an enormous venue capable of seating 17,000 people. The apotheosis of the development process was overseen by Lycurgus in the middle of the 4th century BC, with extravagant ornamentation including 67 Pentelic marble thrones in the front row reserved for festival officials and priests. As the centuries passed, there were many alterations made. This was especially true during the Roman period, and the theatre we see today is significantly different from its original Greek form. Still, you can get quite a buzz from perching on these ancient seats and imagining the roar of the thousands cheering around you as the show goes on below. Definitely worth stopping by on your way up to the top of the Acropolis.
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