This theater is considered one of the most important buildings of the Ancient City of Aspendos, located in Serik district of Antalya. It has the distinction of being the best preserved Roman Theater of both Anatolia and the Mediterranean.
Aspendos Ancient Theater
It also has the distinction of being the theater with the best acoustics in Anatolia and the Mediterranean. It is said to have been built between 161 and 180, that is, A.D. It is known that it was built in the 2nd century. The theater was built by the Emperor of the period, Marcus Aurelius.
The inscription on the upper part of the stage building of the theater states that brothers Curtius Crispinus and Curtius Auspicatus built the theater as a dedication to the emperors and gods. The architect of the ancient theater is Zenon, the son of Thodoros from Aspendos.
The ancient theater was built with every comfort in mind. The seating areas of the theater have a width of 45 centimeters per person. In this case, the theater has a capacity of approximately 9000 people. However, if the seating area per person is slightly reduced, the theater has a capacity of approximately 15 thousand people.
The stage building of the theater has a two-storey structure, as in typical Roman theatres. When you look at the theater’s seating areas, called ceva, there is a stage building, not a natural view, as in typical Hellenistic theatres. There are Corinthian columns in the upper part of the theater and Ionic columns in the lower part. There are statues in the niches between these columns.
Especially the Dionysus relief on the door in the middle, decorated with floral motifs, attracts attention. The doors in the lower part of the theater are used for the artists, and the lower doors are used for the animals to come out during gladiator fights.
Aspendos Ancient Theater Story
Once upon a time, the King of Aspendos organized a competition to find out who could serve the city the most. The winner of the competition will marry the King’s daughter named Belkis. The artists who hear this immediately start working to win the race.
The contestants build the Aspendos theater and the nearby Aspendos aqueduct. When the competition is over, the King has to make a choice. The king likes the aqueduct built, but is asked to look at the built theater one last time. While the king looks at the theater for the last time, he hears the words “The King’s daughter must be given to me” in the top gallery. He tries to find the person speaking at the top, but cannot find him.
The sound belongs to the architect of the theatre, who is very confident in its acoustics below the theatre. The king, who liked the acoustics of the theater very much, remained undecided. Thereupon, the King says that he will divide his daughter into two and waits to see how the contestants will react. However, Zenon, the architect of the theatre, says that this will cause the girl’s death and gives up his rights. Upon this situation, the king realizes that Zenon loves his daughter and decides to marry his daughter to Zenon. At the end of the competition, the architect of the theater wins and marries the King’s daughter in the theater. This marriage is considered the first entertainment celebrated in the theatre. Aspendos theater is also known as Belkis theater.
If you want to get detailed information about the Aspendos Aqueduct, you can take a look at our article on the Aspendos Aqueduct on our website.