It is said that theaters as we know them today were born in Ancient Greece.
In the past, only men were allowed to be actors. The art of acting was held in high esteem, and actors were even exempt from military service.
Athens still has rich cultural offerings, and we have put together a small selection of the 7 most stunning theaters here.
Let's dive in!
1. Stavros Niarchos Foundation - Greek National Opera
Since 2017, the Greek National Opera has been based in the Stravos Niarchos Foundation's purpose-built cultural center. It is located by the sea just a few kilometers from Monastiraki in a suburb south of Athens.
There are two halls in the building, the 28,000 square meter concert hall is an architectural masterpiece, it can accommodate 1,400 visitors. The smaller, on the other hand, which is also known as the Alternative Stage, has room for 400 spectators.
The opera was inaugurated with a performance of Richard Strauss' Elektra. Opera, ballet and musical performances take place here regularly. Please refer to the relevant website for the current program.
The new National Opera is worth a visit simply because of its location and great view, which is accompanied by fantastic acoustics.
Address: Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Leoforos Andrea Syngrou 364, Kallithea - Athens
2. Koilon Theater
Very close to the Acropolis is the Koilon Theater. Here the classic myths from ancient Greece are reworked, modernized, provided with humor and wit and presented to the audience in a very amusing way.
The costumes are self-tailored, and the actors offer an insight into 5th-century Greece with their English-language performances. Care is always taken to create a reference to modernity and to make the audience laugh.
A show lasts about 60 minutes.
Address : Koilon Theater, Lysiou &, Mark. Avriliou 5, Athens 105 56
3. Odeon of Herodes Atticus
The ancient theater is simply called "Herodeon" by the locals. It was built between 160 and 174 AD. by Herodes Atticus in memory of his late wife.
Badly damaged over the years, the theater was renovated before reopening in 1955 as the main venue for the Athens - Epidaurus Festival. The formerly circular orchestra is now semicircular after the renovation and paved with marble. The 35 rows with a diameter of 80 meters offer space for 4680 spectators.
It has since been the scene of world-class musical performances, with Nana Mouskouri, Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra having performed here.
To this day, the Herodeon is still one of the most important venues of the festival and in this context the setting for grandiose ballets, impressive operas and ancient Greek tragedies.
Experiencing a performance here is a very special experience that no visitor will soon forget.
Address: Odeon Herodes Atticus, Dionysiou Areopagitou, Athens 105 55
4. Dora Stratou Theater
The Dora Stratou Theater is named after the well-known Greek singer, dancer and choreographer Dora Stratou. She was the daughter of former Greek Prime Minister Nikolaos Stratou, who was convicted of treason and executed in 1922.
Located directly opposite the Acropolis, the theater is built amidst pine trees. It seats 800 spectators and regularly hosts Greek dance shows during the summer months. The performers are dressed in traditional, handmade costumes and show dances from all regions of the country. Their repertoire includes around 200 dances that are not choreographed but learned by observing how they are performed in the villages.
A performance in the open-air theater lasts about 80 minutes.
Address: Dora Stratou Theater, 33 Arakinthou, Filopappou Hill, Plaka, Athens 117 41
5. Theater on Lycabettus
The theater on Mount Lycabettus, which at 277 meters is the highest point in Athens and offers great views, was built in 1964 on the site of an old quarry. It was intended for the performance of ancient dramas.
Today, the open-air theater, which can seat 3,000 spectators, is the scene of major cultural events during the summer, attracting thousands of music and culture enthusiasts every year. In addition to the performances, the view of Athens alone is worth a visit.
Address: Lycavittos, Athens 114 71
6. Megaro Mousikis Concert Hall
Megaron Concert Hall is a huge concert center in Athens, housing a total of 4 concert halls. It opened in 1991 with originally 2 halls, the other 2 were added later. With its columns and impressive designs, the concert hall is reminiscent of buildings from ancient Greece. Megaron was built by the late media mogul and art patron Christos Lambrakis.
The concert hall also houses the Music Library of Greece with an archive of around 10,000 sound recordings, collections of rare pieces and musical instruments.
The music program presented is diverse and varied. Apart from large orchestras and soloists, avant-garde performances with unusual sound combinations are also presented.
By the way, in ancient Greek palaces, “megaron” was traditionally the throne room where festivals, celebrations and religious rituals took place.
Address: Megaron Concert Hall, Leof. Vasilissis Sofias, Athens 115 21
7. National Theater
As early as 1880, King Gregory I decided to build a national theatre. The German-Greek architect Ernst Ziller, who completed the building in 1890, was finally commissioned with the construction. The entire expansion, however, dragged on until the year 1900. Over the years, the theater underwent numerous renovations until it finally reopened in its present form in 2009.
The stage regularly shows performances, albeit in Greek. Nevertheless, foreign guests can also enjoy the performances if they visit a play they are familiar with. The acting of the actors is admirable.
Address: Odos Agiou Konstantinou 22, Athens 104 37
August 24, 2023