The Roman Theatre at Mérida, last refuge of the Muses
View of the Roman theatre in Mérida during a performance
The Roman Theatre at Mérida is a splendid monument, Europe’s best conserved and the only one which, after being reconditioned, continues to be the setting for theatrical representations and recitals. Every year, people from all over the world are moved by immortal classics of theatre, performed on their original stage, an architectural gem of the 1st century BC. The theatre is set in a World Heritage City and attracts thousands of tourists year after year.
Seeing a play performed in the incomparable setting of Mérida Theatre is a unique, unforgettable experience. The slope of the semicircular theatre, whose original capacity was of some 6,000 people, has incredible acoustics, sensitive to even a whisper by the performers. In the centre there is an impressive stage, decorated by Corinthian-style marble columns, considered to be one of the most beautiful and grandiose of all the Roman Empire.
Since the first decade of the 20th century, when the stage area was recovered from where it lay for years, collapsed and hidden underground, the Theatre’s age old stones have been the setting for plays, ballet and other artistic representations. The Classical Theatre Festival, held every year since 1933, is the site’s most notable cultural event. It allows spectators to travel back in time and enjoy the legacy of Greece and Rome in their original setting. This spectacular festival is recognised for its international importance.
A monumental city
Next to the Theatre you will find the Amphitheatre, and not far away, the Circus. These impressive sites, destined to leisure activities, are to be found within what once was a complete, walled Roman city with roads, arches, forums, houses, such as the Casa del Mitreo house, and beautiful temples, like that of Diana. Besides the Guadiana and Albarregas bridges, whose rivers run alongside the town, the ancient Romans also built the Los Milagros Aqueduct and two reservoirs: Proserpina and Cornalvo, in the Nature Reserve of the same name.
A visit to the monuments and archaeological remains in Mérida is a chance to delve into one of the most interesting periods of history – to travel back in time from the 21st century and experience the splendour of the Roman Empire.