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Monuments
The Ancient Theatre of Delphi
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Delphi is a town at the Province of Fthiotida. There between Pleistos Valley and Mount Kirfi lies the Sanctuary of Apollo with a majestic theatre at its northwestern side. The theatre is the biggest structure in the Sanctuary, though a relatively small compared to the other Greek monuments of this kind. It was a place that hosted song and instrumental music contests at the framework of the ‘Pythia’ games and other religious festivals.  These festivals were equivalent to the spirit and the ideals developed in the athletic stadium at Olympia.

 

Nowadays the theatre is in a quite good condition, yet the few problems are getting more intense due to the distortion of some architectural parts. Over the last years, the monument’s management authority has isolated the Cavea (Koilon) because of various distortion and static problems for safety reasons.

 

Architecture

All ancient theatres consist of three architectural parts; the Cavea (Koilon), the Scene and the Orchestra. The cavea’s construction took advantage of the ground’s inclination and was supported with some soil fillings. It is circular with 36m external perimeter and is divided in two uneven diazoma with a paved line to ease spectators’ moving around. The lower diazoma is divided by a series of arched, symmetric staircases into 7 cunei with 27 rows of seats. The Upper diazoma is divided into 6 cumei with 8 rows of seats and at the perimeter of the last row there was a curb to collect and move away the rainwater. The cavea was constructed in a way to guarantee the best sight and acoustic from every point. The altitude difference between the orchestra and the back row was 15m with 54% inclination. The seats are 0,69m wide, 0,37m high with engraved numbers on.  The seats of the front row (Proedria) are engraved with the authorities of public servants and distinguished citizens.

 

The Orchestra’s diameter was 18,5m and was surrounded by a paved conduit 2,20m wide. Initially it was circular with 14m diameter and later in the Roman Times it took a horse-shoe-shape and covered in stones of different size. At the same period there was added the paparet which extends towards the cavea.

The Stage, of which only the foundations have remained, was profoundly at a lower level that the Orchestra. The platform is 4x9 with two sided wings that project towards the orchestra and were used as the backstage. The proscenium was a small arcade decorated with columns.

 

Short History

The last reference on the theatre’s good condition was by the European Ciriaco de Pizzicolli when he visited the area in 1436. For the next five centuries the theatre was deserted and gradually covered due to soil fillings. In 1895 the French School in Athens started the first excavations under Thomas Homolle. The Ancient Theatre in Delphis suffered severe damage in the World War II, in the Civil War and by the various earthquakes that hit the area. Despite the serious efforts for the damages’ restoration, their majority remain unfinished.

 

Events

The first performance that hosted the theatre after 2000 inactive years was in 1927 during the 1st Delphic Celebrations. It was the play ‘Prometheus Bound’ of Aeschylus, inspired by the Greek poet Angelos Sikelianos and his wife. In 1938 during the 2nd Delphic Celebrations it was presented the play ‘The Suppliants’ (‘Iketides’) of Euripides with a special permission from the Minister of Education, George Papandreou. Since then a limited number of performances have been hosted here on the top of which is ‘Oedipus the King’ (1951) by the National Theatre, ‘The Persians’ and ‘The Birds’ (1967) by the Art Theatre School. The last event that took place in the theatre was a concert in 1992 to celebrate 100 years from the first excavation conducted by the French School in Athens.

 

How to reach the theatre

The 2-hours trip Athens-Delphi can be conducted with a private vehicle or another mean of public transportation. The buses of the KTEL service carry frequent schedules daily from 7:30 until 20:00 (Athens-Delphi) and from 05:30 until 18:00 (Delphi-Athens). On Sundays the schedules are conducted from 7:30 until 21:00. A different way of getting to Delphi is to take the train, arrive in Livadia and then take a KTEL bus that reaches your final destination.

Delphi is 4,30hours away from Thessaloniki. In case you do not possess a private vehicle you can take the KTEL buses (through Amfissa) or the train up to Livadia and then take a KTEL bus.

 

Contact Details

Whoever wants to contact the management authority you have to address to the Official Unit 10th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities.

Tel. number: +3(0) 2265082312, Fax: +3(0) 2265082966, E-mail: protocol@iepka.culture.gr.

 



© myGreece.travel photo
© myGreece.travel photo