The Ancient Theater
The Ancient Theater is not only a piece of the archaeological patrimony in Taormina, but it is also a place of incomparable panoramic beauty. The eye spaces from the bay of Naxos to the calabrian coasts, the Etna, Castelmola.
Is it Greek or Roman? Probably it was built by the Greeks and restructured and widened in the Roman age. A proof of that is given by the presence, under the scene, of stone blocks, which were used by the
The Romans built it during ten years. It is 50 meters wide, 120 long and 20 meters high. For dimension it's the second in Sicily, after the one in Syracuse. It consists of three parts: the scene, the orchestra and the cavea.
The most important part is the scene, that partially preserves the original form. The stage wall is 30x40 meters. Two side elements closed the scene and cavea, preventing the passage to the audience. The roof of them had two big terraces, still
existing. The cavea, semicircular tiers crossed by radial stairways for the distribution of the public, is dug in the rock and it has a diameter of 109 meters.
The first positions of the cavea were reserved to the authorities, while the upper part was reserved to the women. The populace stood on the terraces, which didn't have communication with the interior parts of the theater. An ample curtain protected the audience from the sun and the rain. The cavea was divided in five annular corridors cutted vertically by eight tight staircases, which are constitued by thirty steps apiece.
The tight staircases departed from the cavea and arrived to the terminal wall, where, connected with them, eight doors opened, through which we could reach the covered corridor. The niches in the terminal wall, still well visible, contained statues in exhibition. The orchestra, placed in the center, separates the scene from the cavea. It has a diameter of 35 meters.
The Romans used bricks of clay and mortar for the remaking and amplification of the Theater. They built also a channels system to make the rains waters flow out.
The theater was decorated with columns of white marble and grey granite. Unfortunately, almost all the columns were lost.
The ancient Theater is one of the principal attractions in Taormina. Perfectly fit and working, after having given hospitality to the Donatello's David prize (one of the most important italian Cinema Festival), it is today center of Taormina Art, international festival which goes on for the whole summer period with theatrical and cinema reviews, ballet and symphonic music shows.
It's a little archaeological museum, placed in two rooms of the custodian's house (in olden days called The english' house). The guarded ruins are few, because mostly moved to the museums in Naples, Messina and Syracuse.
Among the most interesting ruins: the base of the Olimpio's statue, in stone of Taormina (Olimpio was a tauromenita athlete winner of the races in the competitions of Olimpia); the base of the Caius Claudius Marcellus's statue; the two pillars (the Strategists' Table and the Ginnasiarchi' Table); the marble
sarcophagus, small and oval, which is probably the form of a child (the exterior part is graven in high relief with scenes of children); the stone blocks smoothed and engraved with the polis financial accounts.