Roman Theater (Archaeological Museum)
Of all the buildings dedicated to performances in our city in Roman times, the one we know best and, probably, the one with the richest architectonic and decoration was the theatre.
There have been several excavation campaigns since the Roman Theatre of Córdoba was discovered in 1994, of which almost 30 % of its surface has been unveiled, thus providing with enough information to know its actual size, as well as its spacial configuration. Nowadays, it has been possible to recreate the whole of the cavea (stalls). However, there is barely any information about the appearance of the scaena (area where the theatrical representations took place, generally with a rich architectonic decoration).
Roman architects chose the highest part of the city to erect the theatre, aiming at making the most of the slope and locate there the stalls. It is estimated that the cavea could have had a diameter of almost 125 metres, which could mean the biggest example of these characteristics found in Hispania, only 6 metres smaller than the Theatre of Marcellus in Rome, and it could accommodate up to 15,000 people. The orchestra (semicircular central space dedicated to the choir or "orquesta") was located in the space between the current Jerónimo Páez Square, to which the back door of the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum of Córdoba leads.
Thanks to these remains found in the different excavations, such as the various pieces of cornices, capitals or even keystones of arches with a sort of tragic mask, we know that the Roman Theatre had arcades and there was a superposition of orders, like in the mentioned Theatre of Marcellus. Remains of capitals have also been found, similar to those of the Temple of Mars Ultor in Rome, which are thought to have belonged to the scanea.
Numerous epigraphic remains allow us to date this great building back in Augustus’s times, probably before the year 5 BC, although the process of decoration and embellishment could have extended until Julius-Claudius times (14 AD to 69 AD). The same remains also tell us the presence of noble local families of the time, such as the Annaei, Marii, Numisii, MeIrcellones Persii… Consequently, the project could have been directly sponsored by the Princeps Senatus (The Roman Senate).
The Roman Theatre was used until the third quarter of the 3rd century AD, when an earthquake damaged it severely, and caused big cracks in the cavea and the area where its foundations were. We know they tried to repair it in the 4th century AD, but the truth is that a slow pillaging period started and continued along that century. Thus, the building became a quarry along the following century and part of the stone in the cavea was removed. With the passage of time, the space was urbanized, it became part of a residential area, and it has continued being so since the Middle Ages up to now.
If you are wondering what to do in Córdoba, we recommend you visit Roman Córdoba, hiring one of our guided tours. We will dedicate there a special chapter to the Roman Theatre. Choose to do high quality sightseeing with qualified staff. Do not hesitate, ArtenCórdoba is the best option.