Located in the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens and with a capacity of 17,000 spectators, the theater of Dionysus is one of the most important monuments of the Greek capital… But why?
Dionysus is mainly known for being (or having been) the god of wine, however he was much more than that. In this article we are not going to fall short and explain the importance of both this Olympian god and this great theater of Ancient Greece that bears his name:
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History of the theater of Dionysus
At a time when there was no theater as such, the Hellenes used this sacred hill as a space to worship Dionysus.
These cults evolved until some very curious celebrations were born, mime and dance performances that were performed for the same purpose (for their god and with no objective to “entertain” anyone). In addition and having little to do with the above, they also carried out sacrifices of lambs in honor of Dionysus.
Later, the theater of Dionysuso would host the great and famous plays of: Euripides and Aeschylus, the tragedies of Sophocles, the comedy of Aristophanes….
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Architecture and other features
Initially, taking advantage of the slope of the Acropolis hill, the audience sat on wooden bleachers, until eventually this material was replaced by stone.
In addition, in the first row there were several seats made of marble, reserved for the wealthiest of the time (of course). Among these comfortable seats, one in particular stood out, which was always reserved for the god Dionysus (although he rarely made an appearance…).
Dear reader, I have good news for you:
Today it is allowed to enter the “inside” of the theater of Dionysus and even sit in the stands, even in the first marble seats (for the same price of course).
Little by little the aforementioned altar of sacrifices was losing importance until it finally disappeared.
On the other hand, the actors were located in what is known as “Orchestra“, a semicircular floor plan. At the same time, there was a set (also used as “backstage” to change) called the “scene“.
I hope I have already convinced you that Dionysus was much more than the god of wine… However, I want to emphasize this trait of his and develop it a little more:
What few people know is that Dionysus was also known by the name of “the liberator“, but why?
Well, on the basis that human beings do not always behave in a “natural” way, meaning that there are social conventions in which we try to make a good and/or correct impression on others, Dionysus is the god who helps us to break that “mask” that we wear so that we can “be ourselves”.
Now, how is this achieved?
Well, you may have already guessed the answer… Drinking wine! That’s right, Dionysus is the personification of the concept of drunkenness, or the one who makes us reach this state.
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Dionysus, the twice born
Another quality of this Olympian god is that of being born twice, curious, let’s see how this is possible:
Zeus had gotten one of his mistresses, Semele, pregnant. Zeus’ “official” wife, Hera, was understandably angry, so she hatched a little plan to take revenge….
It should be clarified here that Dionysus’ mother was human, so our protagonist is technically a demi-god.
When his mother was still pregnant, Hera lied to her, making her believe that the father of the child she was expecting was NOT Zeus. Semele, confused and wanting to get out of doubt, insisted to the adulterer (may the gods forgive me for using this word) to prove that he really was Zeus, the king of the gods.
(It is important to know that Zeus took a different form when he lay with his human lovers, so he was not always recognizable).
With no other choice, to convince his lover, Zeus had to end up showing himself as he really was (with thunderbolts and all). However, before a being with so much power, a human can NOT survive in his presence… As a result Semele, mother of Dionysus, simply dies instantly.
Dionysus, as a god, manages to survive. However, he had not yet finished “gestating” let’s say.
It is at this moment that Hermes, the messenger god of Olympus, extracts Dionysus from the womb of his deceased mother. This would count as the first “birth” of our protagonist.
Subsequently, since the bun was about 3 months away from being ready, Hermes inserts Dionysus into Zeus’ thigh. After this time and well baked, Dionysus would be born again (second birth) coming out from his father’s thigh.
Dionysus Theater Schedule
The Theater of Dionysus is located within the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens, so its schedule is the same as that of the aforementioned archaeological site. There are two different schedules:
– Low season opening hours (November 1 – March 31):
|Every day from 8:00 to 17:00.|
– Hours in high season (April 1 – October 31):
|Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.|
IMPORTANT: The entire Acropolis of Athens will be closed on the following dates:
- January 1st
- March 25th
- May 1st
- Easter Sunday
- December 25th
- December 26th
Also, although it is rarely the case, the Acropolis does not open its doors when it snows or when we are going through an unusual heat wave.
Entrance fees and tickets
The same way it works with the schedule, to visit the theater of Dionysus you must purchase a ticket valid for the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens. Here you have two different options: Buy the individual ticket (for the Acropolis only) or the combined ticket.
The price of the individual ticket depends on the season in which you visit, having two possibilities:
– High season (April 1 – October 31):
| Ticket price – 20 euros |
– Low season (1 November – 31 March):
| Ticket price – 10 euros |
On the other hand, my personal recommendation (in most cases) is to buy the combined ticket. This is a ticket that gives you access to 7 archaeological sites in Athens, which you can visit in an interval of 5 days. In the article dedicated to this ticket (click on the link to get to it) we leave you all the info about it.
Where to buy any of the two types of tickets?
You can do it at the ticket office, however I do not recommend it if you choose to buy the single ticket for the Acropolis, as there is usually a long queue. The combined ticket, on the other hand, can be purchased at any other archaeological site, whose ticket offices are usually not so crowded.
You can also buy your ticket online, this is the official website: https://etickets.tap.gr/.