The restored theater of Messene. Photo: APE-MPE.
The seats of Messene’s grand theater in the southwestern Peloponnese have remained empty since 300 C.E. Long gone are the days when a general from the Achaean league or the king of Macedonia would host events with thousands of visitors. After 20 years of excavation and restoration, the theater will be reopened—as both an archaeological site and a contemporary cultural institution. Excavation director Petros Themelis told the Greek publication Αρχαιολογìα Online
, “We want the theater to operate for events, schools, conferences. We want all areas of ancient Messene to operate in a multifaceted manner. We want the whole city to become alive, to be related to society and the institutions.”
The original third-century-B.C.E. theater, which could have hosted up to 10,000 spectators, served as a model for later monumental performance spaces across the Roman world. After the theater fell out of use, entire rows of seats were removed for local construction projects, thousands of which were carefully reunited by archaeologists working on the restoration project. On August 3, the theater will host its inaugural event, featuring performances by the Athens State Orchestra.
Read more in Αρχαιολογìα Online (English).
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