Athens’ famous Odeon of Herodes Atticus has been staging musicals and theatrical performances for over two thousand years. Set on the southwest slope of the Acropolis, it’s one of the Greek capital’s most striking historic monuments and one of the world’s most stunning open-air theatres.
Built by Athenian benefactor Tiberius Claudius Herodes Atticus (a prominent teacher and philosopher) around 161 AD, in memory of his late wife, Regilla, the ancient amphitheatre of Herodion, is one of the world’s oldest theatres- with some of the world’s most famous performers having appeared on stage here.
Featuring a three-story stone front wall, the theatre wasn’t always open-air; the original façade of arches was closed in by a wooden and tiled roof and was known as the most prestigious Roman-era theatre in ancient Athens and a landmark of the city, even in ancient times.
The roof burnt down around a century after it was built and its condition declined over the centuries, however, performances and public events still took place- even during the German occupation.
Herodion was renovated in 1950, with the audience seats and the stage being restored using Pentelic marble; taking the capacity to around 5,000.
Since its renovation, Herodion became the main venue of the Athens Festival, which runs from May through October each year and it has also hosted some of the world’s leading performers – from home-grown legends including Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hatzidakis, Maria Callas and Nana Mouskouri to international stars such as Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli and Frank Sinatra and pop icons Diana Ross, Liza Minnelli, Elton John and Sting.
Today you can attend the Athens and Epidaurus Festival, a range of musical events and classical tragedies at Herodion. Under the Athenian lit sky you will be able to enjoy a fabulous acoustic performance. Events are held from May through to early October, when the theatre is open and if you are in Athens during this time- and there is a performance taking place – we highly recommend you book yourself a ticket as it will definitely be a cultural experience you will never forget!
The Herodes Atticus theatre is located at the base of the southwestern slope of the Acropolis, on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. It is around a 750m walk (10 minutes) from the Acropolis metro station (red line).
Tip: Photos (with or without flash) or video recording by phone or other devices (without prior permission) are not permitted during a performance.
Main Image by Eric Domas ©