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World’s Most Amazing Buildings: Stadium at Olympia and Theatre at Epidauros

by Mr Ghaz on 26/01/11 at 5:43 am

The Stadium at Olympia; This was originally within the sacred precinct, near to the Temple of Hera, where spectators could view races from the Hill of Kronos. Gradually, the stadium was pushed father east, reaching its present location outside the precinct during the late Classical period.

World’s Most Amazing Buildings:  Stadium at Olympia and Theatre at Epidauros

By Mr Ghaz, January 26, 2011

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World’s Most Amazing Buildings:  Stadium at Olympia and Theatre at Epidauros

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Stadium at Olympia

Almost every town in ancient Greece had rectangular games stadia, which, because of their size, were usually built, like theatres, outside the town walls. They derived their name from the fact that they had to be at least a stade (200 yards/183 metres) long, so that there was room for a straight track for foot races. The stadium at Olympia, in the Peloponnese, where competitive games were first held in the eight century BC, became the most famous in the Greek world. It was here that the Olympic games came to be held every four years, originally in association with an important religious festival centred on the Temple of Hera, which, when built in the mid-fifth century BC, was the largest temple in Greece.

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Events at the games at Olympia, in which only men competed-naked, except in the race for armed men-included wrestling, boxing and chariot-racing as well as foot races. The shortest race for runners was the stade, run over one length; in medium-distance (20 lengths), and the athletes rounding a post at each end of the track.

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The present stadium at Olympia, excavated and restored by German archeologists in the 20th century, was not the first to be built there. Originally built beside the Temple of Hera, it was later moved outside the sanctuary precincts, becoming a very impressive place. Its original mud banking, on which 40,000 spectators could stand, was replaced by tiers of stone benches, and its supporting buildings, including bath-houses (with hot water for the athletes and under-floor heating), an umpire’s box, and what seems to have been a luxury hotel, were built in the fourth century BC.

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ABOVE: The Stadium at Olympia. This was originally within the sacred precinct, near to the Temple of Hera, where spectators could view races from the Hill of Kronos. Gradually, the stadium was pushed father east, reaching its present location outside the precinct during the late Classical period.

Theatre at Epidauros

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Above: The Theatre at Epidauros was described by Pausanias, the Greek traveler and geographer, as the most harmonious and beautiful of open-air theatres, chiefly because of the way it fitted into the hillside, and the quality of its acoustics.

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Many cities in ancient Greece, including those located well away from the centre of affairs, had a theatre large enough to hold much of the city’s population: this was because the Greeks believed that dramatic performances encouraged admirable civic values.

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During the Hellenistic period, the design of theatres became more-or-less standardized. Bowl-shaped to improve the acoustics, theatres had concentric seating built down a slope. So that audiences would have a good view of the orchestra-originally a flat, circular area for dancing-enclosed within the bottom row seating. Behind the orchestra was the skene, a three-dimensional structure that formed a permanent backdrop, with doors through which actors entered and exited. Directly in front of this was a platform called the proskenion (proscenium), from which actors declaimed their lines.

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Among the numerous Greek theatres that survive today, the beautifully sited theatre at Epidauros is the most outstanding. Seated in the theatre, visitors were able to look out over a well-wooded landscape to distant hills. The theatre at Epidauros was built in two stages, the first, in about 350 BC, creating 5,000 seats in 34 tiers, and the second, in the second century BC, providing another 21 tiers and extending the total seats available to about 14,000. Whether seated in the lowest, front row, whose seats were given backs, being intended for dignitaries, or right up at the top, every member of the audience would have been able to hear every word spoken in the orchestra, so effective were the acoustics.

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The theatre at Epidauros is still used for its original purpose, bringing to modern audiences the immortal plays written by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes two and a half millennia ago. They are as relevant today as they were when they were first performed.

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16 Comments

mtrguanlao

Jan 26th, 2011

Wow,they are all really amazing! Great share!

webseowriters

Jan 26th, 2011

Thanks for such an excellent share

Christine Ramsay

Jan 26th, 2011

A wonderful post. Can you imagine any of today’s buildings lasting as long as these ones have?

Larry Fish

Jan 26th, 2011

Great article and amazing photos.

Jenny Heart

Jan 26th, 2011

Interesting and amazing!

Wizard Brown

Jan 26th, 2011

So so cool. Hopefully I can visit some of these places soon. They look amazing.

CHAN LEE PENG

Jan 26th, 2011

Great read as always! Keep it up, Mr.Ghaz!

CHIPMUNK

Jan 26th, 2011

lovely pictures and well informed

Betty Carew

Jan 26th, 2011

Awesome Mr Ghaz. Places that I would never see otherwise. Ancient history right before the eyes. Thanks for this great share the photos are awe inspiring.

lillyrose

Jan 26th, 2011

Truly amazing buildings, you can see all the excitement of the things that took place there if you gaze at them long enough!

sloanie

Jan 26th, 2011

A brilliant history lesson with some amazing pictures. Thanks for the info.

papaleng

Jan 26th, 2011

Fantastic photos and a well-researched article as always.

Yovita Siswati

Jan 27th, 2011

brilliant post. Thanks.

albert1jemi

Jan 27th, 2011

nice one

Anbuselvan

Jan 28th, 2011

Good One, Great Collection

laurie gourley

Feb 2nd, 2011

I really enjoyed your blog. Great pictures and information. I will pass on.

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