Odeon Heroda Attica – Ancient Theater in Athens

On the south-western slope of the Athenian Acropolis, the majestic ancient Greek scene under the open sky is located – Odeon Heroda Attica or, as it is sometimes called, Irodion. It is one of the most memorable monuments of both the acropolis and all attractions of Athens. Often Odeon Heroda attic confused with an equally famous Theater of Dionysus, which is located nearby. The most unpleasant that this sin not only fashionable young YouTube bloggers, who with a smart species quoted Wikipedia with the history of the theater, and the video is removed in Athens Odeon, but also popular online publications and community on social networks, but we will not be about sad. Despite all the recognition of the structure, his story has few people know and remembers, and this is one of the youngest monuments of Acropolis, which is used in direct appointment and today, being the main stage of the Annual Athenian Festival.

Odeon Gerody Attica

In ancient times, such buildings were built for musical representations. The first construction of this type on the territory of the Acropolis was called Odeon Pericla and was located near the ruins of the Deonis Theater. Later, the word "Odeon" became a nominal. Odeon Heroda was built between 160 and 174 of our era and, unlike most other such structures of ancient Greece, had a pronounced Roman style.

Athens Odeon (view from the top of the Acropolis)

Nowadays, the scene and the auditorium are located in the open sky, but during the time of the geoda, Odeon was covered with a wooden roof, and, according to some data, it was made from the valuable wood of cedar and had a unique design. The presence of the roof is considered to be the main difference between Odeon and the theater. The scene had a classic semicircular shape, the floor of which was paved in black and white marble. The auditorium consisted of 35 rows, also made of marble. Archaeologists suggest that in the ancient times he accompanied about 4800-5000 spectators, and it will hardly believe it, because the renovated theater of Heroda today has 4680 places.

Scene of Odeon Heroda in Athens

Odeon’s layout with roof in the new Acropolis Museum

Sizes are impressive even experienced theatrons: 92 meters long and 28 meters in height. Try that this grand construction was built many centuries ago very difficult, and in the fact that almost 17 centuries he stood under the multi-meter of the Earth and is impossible at all. However, in Greece such a situation with many archaeological monuments.

As we have already said, this ancient theater was built in the second half of the II century on the money of the rich and famous philosopher of Heroda (Irodion) Attica in honor of his wife Regilla. Who he was, that he could have so calmly finance such large-scale construction projects?

The future philosopher was born in the city of Marathon in a rich and noble family, so rich that his grandfather Hipph was considered the richest man of Greece. As it often happens, a similar person does not like the authorities, so at the order of the ruling emperor Domitsian, the Hippark was seized all wealth, and his very executed. A few years later, Irodion’s father discovered most of the treasures hidden under the ruins of the family house. In just two years, with the help of a discarded state, he was able to return the former greatness to his family and become the Governor of Judea.

Bust Heroda Attica (located in Paris Louvre)

Thanks to the state of his father and grandfather, Irodion received a wonderful education in the field of oratory, rhetoric and philosophy. Heroda is considered one of the most famous Greek speakers and philosophers of its time and is a sponsor of the construction of not only the Athens theater, but also a bathhouse in Fermopils, a stadium in dolphes and a number of buildings. If architectural monuments built on the Irodion attic tools are preserved to this day, then with literary works, everything is much worse: only one speech of Irodion "On the State Management" is known, although according to the evidence of Philostrat, he had to leave many all kinds of letters, speeches and reference books, and on this subject there are several theories. According to one of them, they were lost, on the other – they did not exist in writing, because a number of modern researchers doubt that the famous treatise "Peri Politeias" belongs to Herod.

Bust Herodes Attic in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens

If we speak modern tongue, the Herodes of Attica can be attributed to the elite of their time. Not by chance in 127, Emperor Adrian, who came to Athens, stayed in the house of the patron.But back to the theater, and not so much is known about his story: he was built in the second century of our era, but after a hundred years after the completion of construction was destroyed during a fire.

In 268, the wild tribe of the Erulov was invaded to the territory of modern Athens, which literally erased the city from the face of the earth. Restoring the structure did not become, and it became a source of stone for the construction and restoration of the city. And then Odeon lost almost a half thousand years. In 1667, during excavations on the slopes of the acropolis, fragments of the Arch Evmenis were found, and then, after almost two centuries, in 1857, the theater itself was found under the 12-meter layer of land.

Odeon Heroda in 1858

The scene is preserved in a good condition, but the visual hall for more than 1600 years suffered quite strongly, only a few visual rows turned out to be in its place, everyone else was practically destroyed. It is clearly visible in the photos and pictures of the late XIX – early XX centuries.

Odeon Heroda Attica - History, Photo, Useful Information

Theater in 1893

Surprisingly, already 10 years after the detection of Odeon in Athens, the first ancient Greek drama is put on his scene, which takes place with stunning success. Over the next 50 years, three serious reconstructions are being taken: in 1898, in 1900 and in 1902.

But the largest restoration was held in 1952, the marble visual hall was fully restored during these works and a scene was put in order. After completing all the works, the famous ancient Greek stage appeared practically in its original form, the exception is only the absence of roofs and sculptures that were previously decorated niche.

Restored visual places

Heroda Theater in Athens

For 52 years, which passed since the restoration of Odeon Heroda attic, the main scene of the Athenian festival took almost all the leading world theaters. Here are those famous people and ensembles, like ballet of the Bolshoi Theater, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Singer Maria Callas, Frank Sinatra, Placido Domingo, Andrea Bocelley, Sting, Elton John and many others.

Odeon Heroda from the street of Dionas Aryeopag

Entrance to the theater of Irodion

Unfortunately, it is possible to visit Heroda’s theater only during the presentation, if you buy a ticket. Watch the schedule of events and buy a ticket can be on the official website of the Athens Festival. At the time of the rest, they can admire from the slope of the Acropolis or the Philopappu Hill, or approaching him from the pedestrian street of Dionas Aryeopag.

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