The Theater of Marcellus

It looks a bit like the Colosseum, but the Theater of Marcellus is unique.  Located in the Jewish Ghetto, not far from the Portico of Octavia, this is one of Rome’s many landmarks.

The Theater of Marcellus

Originally it was (surprise!) an open-air theater for plays or musical presentations. This was one of the largest and most important theaters of ancient Rome, and could hold up to 20,000 spectators. The theater was also one of the first important buildings in Rome to use brick, travertine, and tuff, a local stone.

The Theater of Marcellus (left) next to the remains of the Temple of Apollo

The Theater of Marcellus stands next to the lovely, and poignant, remaining columns of the little Temple of Apollo.

 

The remaining columns of the Temple of Apollo

The area immediately surrounding the Theater of Marcellus is full of architectural bits of nearby antiquities — a reminder that this area was used as a quarry in the Middle Ages.

Bit and pieces of ancient Rome are everywhere around the Theater of Marcellus

Indeed, the Theater of Marcellus itself was used as a quarry after the fall of Rome. It was later converted into a fortress, and then apartments.

The Theater of Marcellus in the 16th Century

Indeed, some apartments are still there today, on the top floors.

The Theater of Marcellus (on the bottom), with apartments on top

 

An apartment window in the Theater of Marcellus

One of the themes I seem to always come back in these blog posts to is how many layers there are of history all through Rome, including recent times. The Theater of Marcellus is no exception.  Look closely at one section visible from the street, and you’ll see this:

Fasces on the side of the Theater of Marcellus

These are fasces — a reminder of preservation work from another, more recent, era of Roman history, the Facsist period.

Chances are good that when arriving or leaving Rome, you will drive by this splendid sight between the Mouth of Truth and the Capitoline. So keep an eye out for it!

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