Greek Theatre of Taormina

Detail

The Greek Theatre of Taormina is the most fascinating historical monument in the pearl of the Ionian Sea, a world-famous tourist attraction, so much so that Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote in his famous Italian Journey he wrote: “Never has the audience of a theatre seen a similar spectacle“.

The Greek-Roman theatre, part of the Archaeological Park of Naxos and Taormina, comprises three areas: the stage, the orchestra and the cavea.

The stage in front of the cavea is where the actors acted and, according to reconstruction by specialists, this area was adorned with two orders of columns, one superimposed on the other.

The stage area also had three large arched openings symmetrically spaced and six niches, three on the right and three on the left of the central open arcade. Six column bases and four Corinthian columns, erected after 1860, are still preserved on the stage area.

The cavea is formed by a flight of steps that, starting from the bottom to the top, widens upwards, where the spectators are seated.

Finally, the orchestra is the lowest flat part of the whole theatre. This is where the musicians who accompanied the drama or comedy were positioned.

Dug out of the hard rock of Mount Taurus in the 3rd century B.C., it could already then accommodate thousands of seated spectators. It is well known that the Greeks erected their most important buildings as if Nature could be a part of them. In the same way, the light and air, creeping in between the columns, emphasised the natural scenery perfectly integrated with the architecture of the theatre.

The shape allowed for perfect acoustics in all areas.

In the late imperial period it was decided to adapt it to the gladiator games. Later, with the fall of the Western Empire, it fell into disuse. The marble was removed from the structure, as were the monumental columns. Only in the post-war period, some parts of the original structure were enhanced by a major restoration work.

Discover the itinerary through the Archaeological Parks between Catania and Taormina.

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