THE THEATER (Ephesus)
The biggest and the most spectacular structure of Ephesus. It was also the most important meeting place in the social and cultural life of the city.
The theater is a large semi-circular structure leaning against the Pion Mountain. The audience was facing the stage and then the harbour at the background. The diameter of the theater is 145m. and the height is 30m. It is mainly made up of marble. Its has a seating capacity for 24,000 people.
The original theater was built during the Hellenistic ages. Then it was enlarged in size during Emperor Cladius (41-54 A.D.) and completed during Emperor Traian (98-117 A.D.). Initially one storey, small stage section was modified and made much bigger during the Roman ages. The stage was a three storey elegant part of the theater. There were 8 rooms and a corridor on each floor. The ground floor had an entrance to the podium and a hidden access corridor to the orchestra place under the ground.
The first two floors of the stage were built by Roman Emperor Neron (54-68 A.D.). The third floor was added to the theater during the 2nd century. The final form of the stage was has not been modified since then. The stage is a 25 x 40m. elegant building decorated with columns and statues of gods, goddesses and emperors on the outside. There were a number of gates into the theater. The center one was the biggest one. The outer side of the stage building was the most decorated one.
There was an altar (sacrifice place) in the middle of the stage podium. This altar was used to offer sacrifices to Dionysus and making ceremonies. The audience used to access to the the theater from the marble road through the stairs without interfering the stage building.
The players used to perform at the same place with orchestra members during the Hellenistic ages. This has changed during the Roman Age and they started to perform at the extended place in front of the orchestra. The plays would start in the early morning and continue until midnight most of the time. The audience was charged an entrance fee.
The theater was also used as a meeting place for ordinary citizens to discuss important matters involving the city. During the Roman Age it also became a venue for gladiator fights involving wild animals.
The renovated Grand Theater of Ephesus has recently been a spectacular stage to a number of orchestral and theatrical performances during the famous annual Efes (Ephesus) Festival.
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