Theater of Dionysus, Athens

Theater of Dionysus, Athens (must see)

Carved into the cliff face of the Acropolis, the Theatre of Dionysos holds immense cultural and historical importance, as it was the birthplace of Greek drama and a central venue for performances in ancient Athens, besides being the first stone-constructed theater. Its location was deliberately chosen near the temple of Dionysus, the God of wine and patron of drama. During the annual Dionysia festival, renowned playwrights such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides had their works performed here as part of dramatic contests.

Initially a modest wooden and earthen structure, the theater was later rebuilt in stone by an Athenian statesman in the 4th century BC; however, the ruins visible today are partly remnants of a much larger edifice built by the Romans, which seated 17,000 spectators. The Romans repurposed it as a gladiatorial arena and added a marble balustrade with metal railings to enhance spectator safety.

Above the theater, a cave dedicated to the goddess Artemis holds significance. In the Byzantine era, this cave was transformed into a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Cave ("Panagía i Spiliótissa") and served as a place where mothers brought their ailing children. Nearby, two sizeable Corinthian columns mark the remnants of "choregic" monuments erected to celebrate a benefactor's team winning the drama festival. To the west lies the Sanctuary of Asclepius, son of Apollo, founded in 420 BC and dedicated to the god of healing.

Why You Should Visit:
Fantastic opportunity for theater enthusiasts, students, and children to gain insight into what one of the most significant and ancient theaters in the Western world must have been like. Although you can't explore every nook and cranny, you can walk around the stage's perimeter and sit in the seats, which is a great way to make history come alive.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Athens. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Theater of Dionysus on Map

Sight Name: Theater of Dionysus
Sight Location: Athens, Greece (See walking tours in Athens)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Athens, Greece

Create Your Own Walk in Athens

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Athens Food Walking Tour

Athens Food Walking Tour

Traditional Greek cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world, and prices in all but the flashiest establishments afford excellent value. The prevalence of vegetable and dairy dishes makes eating out a delight for non-meat eaters. Carefully selected appetizers (tzatzíki, dolmádes, kalamarákia) can constitute a full meal. Greece’s most famous slow-cooked oven dish, however, is probably...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
Walking Around the National Garden

Walking Around the National Garden

The National Garden is an impressive, historic park in the center of Athens, complete with artificial streams and duck ponds. Formerly known as the Royal Garden, it was commissioned by King Otto’s queen, Amalia, in 1838, reason why it is located directly behind the Old Palace (currently the Greek Parliament building). Not only is it a welcome refuge from the swirl of traffic just outside the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Plaka Attractions Walking Tour

Plaka Attractions Walking Tour

In the shadow of the Acropolis stands Plaka, the most picturesque and oldest district of Athens, with continuous habitation from antiquity until today. The “neighborhood of the Gods”, as it is called, is like a romantic, atmospheric trip to old Athens adorned with antiquities, historic 19th-century buildings, museums and Byzantine churches.

From the vibrant Syntagma Square walking down...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Athens Introduction Walking Tour

Athens Introduction Walking Tour

Athens is one of the oldest European cities, widely regarded as the birthplace of Western Civilization. Its history begins in the Neolithic period between 4th and 3rd millennium BC. The first settlement on the site of Athens was situated on the rock of Acropolis which means “high city” in Greek.

According to the Greek mythology, the name “Athens” emerged from a competition between the...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.2 Km or 2.6 Miles
Walking Tour Around the Legendary Acropolis

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Also called "the sacred rock", the Acropolis was home to temples and sanctuaries throughout recorded history, and is a symbol of the city of Athens. Its religious importance was paramount to the ancient Greeks, and the buildings on the summit still capture the essence of their classical architecture. You can see the temples from most parts of the city, which adds to the feeling that this...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles

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