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The ancient theatre

The ancient theatre is one of the principal public buildings of the ancient Philippopolis. In addition to being a cultural centre, it also played an important role in the public and political life of the city and of the Roman province Thracia. Its construction is dated to the beginning of the 2nd century, at the time of Emperor Traianus. This dates the building to the time of the most intensive theatre construction in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. The layout of the theatre reveals certain specificities that prove that it had been used not only for theatre performances, but that it was also used for gladiator and hunting games, which were popular in the Roman world. It underwent several reconstructions, which did not introduce essential changes in its general appearance. The theatre stopped functioning in the 5th century after a fire and a devastating earthquake, and was transformed into stone quarry. After the considerable damage caused by natural disasters and the inexorable time, 19 of the 28 rows of the amphitheatrical theatron have been preserved. An important contribution to the restoration of the theatre in 1979-1981, in addition to its well preserved ruins, can be seen in the precise archaeological exploration, which revealed its architectural proto-image. Built on the southern slope of Trimontium, in the saddle between the hills Taxim Tepe and Djambaz Tepe, the theatre is distinguished by an architectural solution that is optimally adapted to the terrain configuration and urban planning composition of the ancient city. The theatre is a brilliant example of the intertwining of theatre construction in the Hellenistic centres of Asia Minor and the local Thracian construction and decorative traditions.

Popular today as the Ancient Theatre of Plovdiv, this magnificent archaeological monument is the most remarkable entirely exposed and displayed public building from the ancient Philippopolis.

Owing to the high artistic qualities of its ruins and of their cultural-historical potential, today the Ancient Theatre was granted the status of a monument of culture of national significance.

Built on the terrain of Trimontium, the theatre dominated its southern base as a public centre of the ancient city.

Today, being included in the Old Plovdiv Architectural and Historical Reserve, it stands out as a unique symbol of Plovdiv. After the restoration, the care for preserving the authenticity of the Ancient Theatre not only did not prevent its active involvement in the cultural and theatre life of the city, but having been reborn for a new life, with seats for about 3,500 spectators, the theatre of Philippopolis is already a remarkable and favourite cultural centre of Plovdiv, a place for the unique interaction of contemporary cultural activities with the values of the past.

The programme of the performances includes both chamber artistic events, and drama and opera that require grandeur and mass scenes. The Ancient Theatre is associated with the annual Verdi Nights and with the International Folklore Festival, which turned into an exceptional cultural tradition and created popularity for this cultural historical gem of Plovdiv.

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