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The Ancient Theater

Object type: Public Building
location: Plovdiv

The ancient theater on Trimontium was built in a naturally shaped saddle between Jambaz Tepe and Taxim Tepe and was one of the most significant public buildings in the central Roman town in Thrace. It was constructed during the reign of Emperor Trajan in the early 2nd century on an older building, probably a sanctuary to the Thracian goddess Bendis. It was revealed in archaeological excavation carried out in 1968-1979.

The theater on Trimontium has a design typical of the time. Its main parts are the stage, the orchestra and the theatron. A two-storied construction (skene) with side wings, decorated with friezes, cornices and statues rises in the back side of the stage. The inscriptions and the exquisite statues which had been discovered in excavation were included again in the building’s architecture at its reconstruction.

The spectators’ part (theatron) is amphitheatrically shaped and divided into two rings (horizontal bands) each of them consisting of 14 rows of marble cut seats. The two bands are divided by a wide horizontal path. The theatron is divided into sectors by stairs descending to the stage; the lower ring has six sectors and the upper one twelve. The ancient theater had the capacity of 7,000 spectators at the most.

A considerable part of the building was demolished in the late 4th century in a fire or an earthquake after which only 20 out of 28 rows in total remained in the amphitheatric theatron while the skene entirely collapsed.

Besides being an important symbol and a tourist site of the city, the ancient theater today is a cultural center of Plovdiv where impressive opera, theater and music events take place with the participation of world famous performers.

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