Taormina Odeon

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The Odeon of Taormina is a small theater leaning against the church of St. Catherine. In the Greco-Roman culture these buildings were used for performances, lectures and public readings. Admission is free and it can be visited from 9 a.m. until one hour before sunset.

The history of the Taormina Odeon

The discovery of the Odeon of Taormina dates back to the 19th century, during an excavation campaign led by the architect Patricolo. On that occasion, the remains of a peripteral Greek temple were found, partially incorporated in the foundations of the Church of Santa Caterina. IIt is not possible to determine with certainty to which deity the temple was dedicated, but it is known that in Taormina there were shrines to Zeus, Dionysus and Apollo. The discovery of some parts of the Ionic roof places the construction of the building in the Hellenistic period, between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. Between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, the southern side of the temple was used to complete the structure with that of the Odeon.

The architecture of the theater

The brick cavea of the Odeon of Taormina, dug directly into the rock, contains eleven rows of seats divided into four wedges by three ladders. The eighth row of seats was used as a passageway, because the entrances or vomitoria, of which two still exist, opened here. The orchestra, the space for the actors, had a diameter of about 11 meters and was probably open, as was the stage. A part of the pulpitum (stage) remains, with some remains of a semicircular niche. The wooden back rested on the temple base (stylobate) made of local white limestone blocks. The stage was flanked by two vaulted halls, of which the northern one is still visible. Together with the Odeon of Catania, the Odeon of Taormina is the only example of a covered theater documented in Sicily.

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