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The ancient theatre of Taormina and its shows with a view

The ancient theatre of Taormina is the largest theatre in Sicily after that of Syracuse. Despite its restoration, the ruins tell us about the greatness of its civilization and its people, a lover of theatrical art, drama and scenic representations. Many tourists come to visit Taormina because it is a medieval village that can be considered the mirror of Greek culture, with a role of connection between the cities of Messina and Syracuse. However, these are just few of the reasons why visiting the ancient theatre of Taormina should be included in the list of Taormina must see attractions.

The ancient theatre of Taormina: the first Taormina must see attraction

The ancient theatre of Taormina located in the rocky promontory that dominates the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea, after two thousand years, manages to evoke wonderful sensations, as it is the perfect representation of human ingenuity between art and history, culture and myth. So, are you wondering what are in Taormina things to do? If for you it isn’t enough to explore the exclusive local boutiques of Corso Umberto, then you can try a walking tour with the visit of the majestic ancient theatre of Taormina included in the itinerary in addition to other important monuments of the historical centre.

Tour of the ancient Theatre of Taormina by Discover Messina Sicily

To carry out the gigantic work of the theatre, it was necessary to level the natural hill on which it stands and about 100,000 m ² of limestone rock was extracted. 

During the medieval era, the theatre was used as a quarry for material to erect palaces and adorn churches. According to tradition, the columns of the cathedral of Taormina were extracted from the scenery. Instead, during the Roman imperial age, starting from the second century BC, the Romans began modifying and renovating the ancient theatre of Taormina, with the aim of satisfying the Roman taste for entertainment. The quarry was surrounded by two arches: the highest was supported by columns where below, among the latter, there were niches that contained the statues.

All this involved an amplification of the orchestra to adapt it to the new arena function and, moreover, a high podium was built to protect spectators from the risks posed by these types of shows and pits were dug for the fights between gladiators and wild animals. The quarry carved into the limestone rock could accommodate up to 5,400 spectators.

Detail of the ancient theatre of Taormina

In addition, the first time it supported the lower terrace, in which there were wooden seats reserved for women, while the arch of the second portico, which supported the highest terrace of thetheatre, without fixed seats, housed the humblest people.

The ancient theatre of Taormina today is divided into nine cuneiform segments joined with eight stairways. A part of the parascenia, the rooms reserved for the actors also useful for storing the scenic decorations, has been preserved. Of the double row of columns that originally had to decorate the scenery, only a few elements remain, erected in a restoration carried out in the past century and part of the previous staircase has been rebuilt.

Since the 1950s, thanks also to the acoustic perfection of the structure, various forms of entertainment have been held, ranging from theatre to concerts, from David di Donatello award ceremonies to symphonic concerts, from opera to ballet. Since 1955 the ancient theatre of Taormina also host the famous Taormina Film Fest and in 2017 the G7 summit took place there.

There are also the remains of a small temple, located above an eastern part of the quarry and the Antiquarium, where important results discovered during excavations were made (such as, for example, a Roman sarcophagus with Dionysian representations, some tables with the reports of the city magistrates, Greek epigraphs and a Hellenistic torso, without a head, representing Dionysus or Apollo). From the upper part of the grates of the ancient theatre of Taormina, you can admire a unique and unrepeatable panorama on Mount Etna defined by J. Henry Newman in 1833, “the closest access road to the contemplation of Eden“, definitely a Taormina must see place!

Night performance in the beautiful scenery of the ancient theatre of Taormina, 2015

Taormina things to do: other ideas for a visit

Finally, if you want to know in Taormina things to do or other nice spots to visit, you will enjoy a boat adventure to Isola Bella and its caves or a relaxing walk in the quiet public garden just a few steps away from the ancient theatre of Taormina. Moreover, for a fun family experience, you shouldn’t miss the cooking class in Taormina to try the delicious local food and learn how to prepare it like a master chef! 

View of Taormina from the Greek Theatre

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