Odeon of Herodes Atticus: Athens’ Spellbinding Gem

High Above History: A Bird’s-Eye View of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, Greece – Photo: Jim Niakaris | Unsplash

Built in 161 AD, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus stands as one of the world’s oldest performance venues. Two millennia after its construction, audiences can still enjoy shows here from May to October.

What’s the story behind this incredible architectural wonder? Find out below.

The History of the Odeon

Herodes Atticus, an Athenian rhetorician, Roman senator, and philanthropic magnate, built the Odeon as a tribute to his late wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. He built it during the Roman period, and it primarily served as the setting for music and theater performances.

The Architecture

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus, also known as the Herodeion, is an excellent example of the distinct Roman architectural style.

The theater is made of Pentelicus marble (white marble with a yellow tint that gives it a golden glow when it’s hit by the sun) and features a semicircular design perfect for theater-goers (the theater can accommodate up to 5,000 people) to get an excellent view no matter where they’re seated. It’s also decorated with a variety of stunning archways and columns.

Gazing Upon Athens’ Timeless Splendor from the Odeon of Herodes Atticus – Photo: Jo Kassis | Pexels

Originally, the Herodeion was not an open-air structure. Its three-story facade was governed by a roof made from wood and tile.

A century after it was built, though, the theater’s roof burned away, leaving behind an open theater that guests still loved to visit. Even when Germany occupied the city, the shows still went on.

The Sound

One reason why the Herodeion is so popular even today is its incredible acoustics. Because of its design, sound is distributed well throughout the theater and eliminates the need for fancy microphones and amplifiers.

Modern audiences that attend the theater for concerts and other events (including operas, ballet performances, and theater productions) are impressed by the sound quality.

The Setting

The theater is located on the southern side of the Acropolis hill, which provides a stunning backdrop for audiences, including panoramic views of the Acropolis and the rest of Athens.

Because of its centralized location, the theater is easy for tourists and locals to access. Whether they’re attending a one-in-a-lifetime show or just want to explore one of the world’s most well-preserved theaters, they can get there easily and certainly won’t be disappointed by all the sites they see along the way.

Visit the Odeon Today

If you’re interested in seeing what the Odeon of Herodes Atticus has to offer, book your trip today.