THE ANCIENT THEATRE OF DODONI

The theatre of Dodoni is one of the largest and most preserved Greek ancient theatres, with a capacity of 18.000 people. It was an integral part of the sanctuary of Dodoni and it was the most visible monument for the visitors approaching from the south of the archeological site. The theatre was characterized by curved surfaces and impressive and retaining walls.

It was built during the 3rd century BC within the ambitious building program that was managed by Pyrros, king of Epirus, in order to reconstruct the Hellenic sanctuary providing a monumental character.

 

The huge hollow of the theatre was designed to fit the physical hollow of the foothills of mountain Tomaros. Due to its large size, it was built using a backfill that was supported by retained walls enhanced by six towers, all concluding to the monumental character of the theatre. The two towers that were closer to the orchestra were quite larger than the rest, because they were used as a staircase to the upper rows of seats for the audience. The hollow of the seats was divided with two horizontal corridors in three parts and with nine vertical staircases in ten columns of seats. The lowest row of seats was named “proedria” in greek and was stone-built destined for the officials or the honored. The access to the seats was carried out by the staircase and the exit of the audience was in the middle of the top row seats.

 

The orchestra was not a full circle with a diameter of 18,70 meters. In its center, there was a carved stone that constituted the base of the altar of god Dionysus (Thimeli). The stage of the theatre was a two-floor rectangular building sizing 31,20 x 9,10 meters. At the edges of the building, there were two square backstage rooms. In the north and south side of the stage there were Dorian paths surrounding the sanctuary, while on the east and west edges there was the access for the actors and audience to the orchestra.

 

The monument was initially excavated from the archeologist K. Karapanos between 1875-1878. Later on, the site was researched by the archeology professor D. Euaggelidis and S. Dakaris (1929-1932), who continued the excavation after the World War II, contributing in the reconstruction of the theatre.