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The Grand Theater

The theater was first built in the time of Lysimachus, taking advantage of the natural slope of Mt. Panayir.

As with other ancient theaters, there are three main sections, which are the scene, the orchestra, and the seating area.

The most beautiful part was the 18-meter building that made up the scene area. It was a three-story, multi-column structure facing the spectators. There were statues in the niches in between columns. The ground floor is still standing. It runs north and south and has eight rooms opening onto the western side.

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There is a narrow door leading into the orchestra and a small terrace on each end.

Grand Theatre (Reconstruction)During the Classic Period there was another scene section where performers would be on the same level as the choir section in the orchestra. This area was sometimes slightly raised. In the Hellenistic Period the orchestra was reduced in size and a narrow stage area was used by the actors. This configuration allowed those seated at the back to hear better and those at the front to see better.

The second floor of the scene structure has been preserved, revealing a different plan than that of the first floor. There was a long corridor in the center with five doors opening onto the proscene and two rows of rooms on the western side. The semicircular orchestra was 34 m in width.

During the plays the choir would come in on either side of the orchestra and speak their lines in unison. There was a ceremony in front of the altar at the front of the orchestra before each performance in honor of the god Dionysius. In the beginning there were ceremonies at these plays to the god of wine, Dionysius, hence the tradition of offering a sacrifice to him in the beginning.

Grand Theatre (Large Photo)In the Hellenistic Period the orchestra was smaller and expanded by 5 meters in Roman times. Part of the orchestra was floored with green marble. The seating area was a semicircle with a radius of 154 m and 38 m high. It could hold as many as 24,000 spectators. The area was divided into three sections and had two rows of steps through the middle.

All the performers were male. As can be seen in the frescoes in the hillside houses, the actors used masks while performing. There were also meetings held here for the citizens of Ephesus