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Online travel guide to Syracuse

Greek Theatre

Greek Theatre Largest Theatre in ancient times

Greek Theatre

The largest theatre in the ancient world

The Greek theatre in Syracuse was built around 470 B.C. by Hiero I. With a capacity of 15,000 spectators and a diameter of almost 140 metres, it was the largest theatre in the ancient world. Famous plays such as "The Persians" and "The Women of Etna" by Aeschylus were premiered here. Besides tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides, the theatre also witnessed the birth of comedy. The Sicilian playwright Epicharmos, from the nearby Megara Hyblea, was the creator of comedy.

Around 220 B.C., the theatre was expanded to its current size by Hiero II. 61 rows of seats offered space for 15,000 spectators, making it the largest theatre of the entire ancient world. The Romans reduced the rows of seats to 46 to have a larger stage area for bloody gladiatorial games. The seats and the auditorium are remain largely untouched. On the other hand, we can only guess as to how the stage and scenes were constructed on the basis of their foundations. In the summer months Greek tragedies are performed here that attract many enthusiastic spectators to Syracuse.

Above the theatre there is an artificial grotto, the Nymphaeum. It was dedicated to the Muses and fresh spring water still flows from its holes through the ancient canals. On the left side of the Nymphaeum there is a small street of tombs dating from the Byzantine period.


Entrance via the archaeological park: € 8,-

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