The Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

One of the world's oldest and finest open-air theatres.
Just as it was almost 2000 years ago, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is still used today for performances with up to 5,000 spectators.

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Where is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Nestling in a rocky hollow on the southwestern side of the Acropolis of Athens is one of the world’s oldest and finest open-air theatres.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is much more than a fascinating archaeological site. Just as it was almost 2000 years ago, it is still used today for performances for up to 5,000 spectators.

Such legendary stars as Jean Michel Jarre, Ennio Morricone, Jethro Tull, Dame Margot Fonteyn, Luciano Pavarotti, Diana Ross, and Elton John have enchanted audiences with their performances in the magical setting of the ancient Odeon under the beautiful Athenian night sky.

Constructed in 161 AD, the Roman theatre was funded by a wealthy benefactor of Athens, Herodes Atticus, who wanted it to be a gift to the people of Athens and built in honour of his late wife, Aspasia Annia Rigilla.

As well as steep semi-circular rows of seating, it had a three-story facade built in stone and a roof made from cedar wood brought from Lebanon.

During the Second World War, when the Germans occupied Greece, the Odeon continued to host many concerts performed by the Athens State Orchestra and the newly formed Greek National Opera.

Further restoration work began on Odeon Herodes Atticus during the 1950s. The city funded the work, and a grand opening ceremony was held in 1955. The Odeon became the main venue for the Athens & Epidaurus Festival – and it remains so to this day.

The Odeon measures 87 metres in diameter. The seating is semi-circular of 36 tiered rows made in marble from Mt Hymettor.

The stage is 35 meters wide and made of coloured Pentelic marble. It has a magnificent and distinctive backdrop made in stone with windows overlooking Athens. It is decorated with columns and niches for statues.

The audience stands, and the orchestra (stage) were restored using Pentelic marble in the 1950s. Since then, it has been the main venue of the Athens Festival, which runs from May through October each year, featuring a variety of acclaimed Greek and international performances.

Events, Bands, Artists and Concerts that Appeared at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

1957 – Maria Callas performed at the Odeon as part of the Athens Festival, and in the same year, Edith Hamilton was pronounced an honorary citizen of Athens at ninety years of age. 

1962 – Frank Sinatra gave two Benefit concerts for the city of Athens. 

1973 – The venue for the Miss Universe 1973 pageant. 

1984 – A memorable performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus was given by the Greek singer Nana Mouskouri after 20 years of absence.

1991 – Luciano Pavarotti 

1993 – Vangelis and later that year Yanni

1996 Sting during his Mercury Falling Tour

1998 – Mikis Theodorakis

2000 – Elton John as part of his Medusa Tour

2004 – Luciano Pavarotti 

2008 – Sylvie Guillem performed Boléro in company with the Tokyo Ballet as part of the Athens Festival.

2010 – The tenor Andrea Bocelli held a concert at the Odeon to raise funds for cancer research.

2012 – Mario Frangoulis performed the leading role in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana

2018 – Sting for two special concerts.

2020 – The first art exhibition was held by Greek artist Dionisis Kavallieratos, entitled ‘Disoriented Dance / Misled Planet’ organised by NEON Organization and the Athens and Epidaurus Festival.

 

Other artists who have performed at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Alicia de Larrocha, Calexico, Cockney Rebel, Dead Can Dance, Diana Ross, Dionysis Savopoulos, Ennio Morricone, Fairuz, Florence and the Machine, Foo Fighters, George Dalaras, Goran Bregovic, Haris Alexiou, Jean Michel Jarre, Jethro Tull, Joaquín Cortés, José Carreras, Karolos Koun, Kathryn Morgan, Leonidas Kavakos, Liza Minnelli, Manos Hatzidakis, Marinella, Maurice Béjart, Mikis Theodorakis, Montserrat Caballé, Nikos Koundouros, Paco de Lucía, Patti Smith, Plácido Domingo, Sivert Høyem, Spiros Evangelatos, Steve Harley (without the usual band, the Bolshoi Ballets, Yann Tiersen, Yannis Markopoulos

Attend a concert or play at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.

Take a tour of the structure.

Enjoy the views of the Acropolis from the theatre.

Have a picnic on the grounds of the theatre.

Relax in the gardens of the theatre.

Take a walk through the ruins.

Learn about the history of the structure.

After a short walk up to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, and just before you turn to continue your journey up the Acropolis, is a perfect opportunity to capture the quintessential photographs of the theatre and the view over Athens.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is located on the Acropolis of Athens and therefore has the same opening hours.

Summer (April 1st to October 31st)

Monday – Sunday 08:00 – 20:00

Winter (November 1st to March 31st)

Monday – Sunday 09:00 – 18:00

Closed

January 1st, March 25th, May 1st, Easter Sunday, December 25th and 26th

My photos of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus

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