Taormina has been settled since the C7th BC and there are remains from both the Greek and Roman times
Greeks left their mark with an impressive theatre which was used for
dramatic or musical performances. This became an amphitheatre for
gladiatorial contests under the Romans. Set above the town, this has
spectacular views across Taormina to Mount Etna
The semi circular structure dates from the C3rd BC and over 100,000 cubic meters of rock had to be removed when building it. The brickwork is Roman dating from when the theatre was rebuilt as an amphitheatre in the C2nd AD. It was divided into the Scena, Orchestra, Cavea and Portico.
An archway leads into the scena.
The scena was the stage where the actors performed. It had three large arched opening, six niches and two rows of pillars. During the Middle Ages, most of the columns were removed and used for building the cathedral and palazzios.
The Orchestra was the area for the musicians but the chorus and dancers may also perform there. This area was enlarged by the Romans and some of the lower rows of seats were removed. A deep trench was dug to house the animals
The cavea or auditorium could house up to 5.400 spectators with stone seats, reached by rows of steps.
Running round the top of the cavea are two brick porticos. In Roman times, these supported a terrace with additional seating.
There is the remains of a small Roman Odeon used for musical performances which is ticked away behind St Catherine’s Church. Unlike the Greek Theatre, this gets few visitors.
The remains of the stage area can be seen exposed in the nave floor in the church.
The Naumachie is a long wall running below Corso Umberto which dates from Roman times and is thought to be the supporting wall for a huge cistern that was part of a gymnasium. This runs alongside a narrow passageway with a small garden in front of it. This agin is quiet with few visitors.
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