The Roman Theatre was built in the 2nd half of the Ist century BC close to the city’s boundary walls, and was used till the IVth century, passing through restoration and transformation. Still in the Roman period, a deep crack appeared in the steps, possibly following an earthquake. During the Early Middle Ages, the church of Sant’Agata and the Corvis’ palace were built on its stage area. In 1320, 400 Guelphs were jailed in the theatre’s aisles, used as prison, to be killed two years later. In 1395, Palazzo Corvi was occupied by Benedictine nuns, who turned the by-then interred theatre into the monastery’s cloyster.
The remains were first explored in 1891 by Spoletan archaeologist Giuseppe Sordini and were brought back to light after thorough excavations between 1954 and 1960.
The theatre lies upon an artificial terracing and has a diameter of 70 meters ca, defined by a half-round ambulatory covered by barrel-vault; three accesses connect the ambulatory to the cavea, on whose steps the audience used to sit. Twenty-seven steps in the eastern section were reconstructed during the cavea’s restoration, following the model of the remains, while on the western side they have been rebuilt in reinforced concrete.
In Roman theatres, the orchestra used to be the central, half-round space destined for special guests among the audience, and not for the choir like in Greece. This area still maintains some of the original, many-coloured IVth-century marble slabs that were imported from various regions of the Empire. White, dark and yellow slabs are placed around three green discs at the centre. In the Middle Ages, the set was dramatically altered by the construction of the church of Sant’Agata.
Nowadays the theatre and the State Archaeological Museum are melt together in a single complex and the theatre itself is still used for summertime shows, especially during the Festival Of Two Worlds; access to the site is in via Sant’Agata, but you can catch an overall glimpse through the big window in piazza della Libertà.
Address: Via delle Terme/Piazza della Libertà
Access of State Archaeological Museum in Via Sant’Agata 18a
Ph: 0743 223277
For opening times and fees, please visit Spoleto Card