As a difference to the unseen and destroyed uniques from all of the epochs of human existence and civilizations in the heart of the old town of Plovdiv shines the only preserved, restorated and functioning ancient theater in Bulgaria. About 20 years after the building of the Coliseum on the ruins of an older construction in Philippopolis began the erection of the Ancient theater. It was finished between 114-117 AD at the dawn of the Rome emperor Thrajan, who was associated and with one of the creation periods of the Philippopolis Forum.
The epigraphic evidence reading by Nikolay Sharankov reveals that the theatre was built on account of city’s magistrates: Tarsas and his wife; the phylarch Tiberius Claudius Dorzinthes; the three times archipriest of Thrace; aided by the Roman authorities the procurator Tiberius Claudius Sacerdos lulianus and the legate Gnaeus Minicius Faustinus, as well as by the Thracian Common Council. Deputies ten tribes held the people’s assemblies between the statues of a gods, magistrates and benefactors.
The most important statues those of Thrace and of Perint, were in front of the two sides of the central stage door. The statues of famous poets and playwriters were situated between the columns of the two wings of the stage building. Alongside the diasomatus were situated the statues of the town symbols, the patroness of Philippopolis and of the philas – Orpheus, Eumolpes, Heracles, the river god Hebros, etc. Up at the arcs, in the corridors there were the copies of popular Rome originals. The statuary constantly was enriched with new favourites.
The Common gathering of the Koinon Thrakon province organized there Pythian games, the famous throughout the whole Roman Empire Alexandrian in the honor of Alexander the Great) and Kendrissian (in the honor of the patron of Philippopolis – Apollo) games. The games were isselastic, i. e. part of the fortress wall had to be torn down to allow the winners to enter their birthplace town on a ceremonial chariot. The theater was a home of the included ‘ in the Games competitions for musicians, poets, singers and messengers.
During the Ancient times, the Orpheus cult return to the homeland. The theatre keep his traces – as a name of the phillas Orpheida, the marble statue of the mythical bard and Teacher. A big bronze-marble sculpture’s composition present Orpheus as a tamer of wild nature. Two coins from this times, (the Philippopolis coinage) preserved its images.
The most brilliant metropolis of the Thracian province became a world centre during the sacred Alexandrian and Cendrissian Pythian games. Every fourth year, famous contestants from everywhere came to the magnificent stadium in order to try their strength against the local athletes. Numerouse inscriptions in Plovdiv and all over the Roman Empire reveal how proud were the victors of their palms and wreaths gained in honour of Apollo Cendrissos in Philippopolis.