Theater of Marcellus

- Roma Viva.

Theater of Marcellus

This is the only surviving theater used to stage plays from ancient Rome. Julius Caesar began its construction to draw attention away from the not too distant theatre of Pompey, his bitter enemy. Augustus, when he completed the building, named it after his daughter's husband Marcellus.

Until this time, theatrical performances were held in temporary wooden structures put up whenever needed. This permanent theater fixed the plan for the classical Roman theater: a horse-shoe auditorium that was built of masonry and not into a naturally-formed basin; the scenery consisted of a high backdrop wall of various levels decorated with columns, niches, and statues.
The curtain was made of material richly decorated with legends and historical scenes that could be dropped into a kind of trough. The first row of seats was reserved for Senators, whereas the public sat in the higher rows. There were around 20,000 seats in this theatre.
The original appearance was altered in the Middle Ages when a fortress was constructed in the building by the Pierleoni family, and yet again in the 16th century, when it was transformed by Baldassare Peruzzi into the residence of the Savelli family.
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