Europe Travel

Aspendos: Journey to an Ancient Theatre

My tour of ancient ruins in Turkey continues today! Aspendos was once the most important city in ancient Pamphylia. It is situated close to central Serik. Now a days the reason why most people come to Aspendos (including Sam and I) is to see the theatre.

The theatre was built in 155 AC by the Greek architect Zenon. It is also the best preserved theatre of Roman world. In fact, it is arguably the best example of Roman theatre building in the entire world. So obviously this was a very exciting place for two actors to visit.

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It’s almost impossible to capture the sheer size of the stage and scaenae even from one of the uppermost levels. Sam waving in the middle is but a tiny dot.
 
We’ve all studied how clever ancient architecture is, but I had never before experienced it in action. In the picture below I am talking in a completely normal voice to Sam who is in one of the uppermost seating banks. I’m not raising my voice at all. I’m not even using an outdoor voice. The acoustics were that magically.  It was built so that if an actor dropped a pin on stage everyone in the audience should be able to hear it, and I can now tell you- that is not an exaggeration! All 15,000 audience members. And Sam thought that the Royal Shakespeare Theatre was huge. No more.
 
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And what was I saying to Sam in these amazing acoustically situations?
Mostly things like, “You stink.”
 
aspendos theatre turkey
Just some gladiators, doing their thing.
 
Although the fact that there are gladiators in costume is a bit misleading. Gladiators never fought at Aspendos. It happened once because some silly wealthy man rented it out for a private party and wanted gladiators. Otherwise, nope. But I suppose that’s what tourists expect to see.
 
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Imagine making your entrance from there.
Did I mention that the theatre can seat more than 15,000 people?
 
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Where actors, chorus, and orchestra members could enter and exit.
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One man contemplates the majesty of the theatre.
 
I might not currently be on stage in England, but as an actress I can now say I’ve been on one of the largest ancient stages in the world.

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