Odeon of Herode Atticus

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus is an impressive attraction in Athens found looming on the hill below the south western side of the Acropolis. Also called the “Herodeon”, the Athens Odeon of Herode Atticus dates back to 161 AD, when it was built by Herodes Atticus to honor his wife Regilla, who had passed away a year earlier. The structure was used as a theater in ancient Athens for various plays and music concerts, and it could seat up to 5,000 people.

Herodes had been born to a wealthy family, and maintained his wealth throughout the years, pouring a great deal of his fortune to building public projects like his theater in ancient Athens. Casual rumors make mention of the possibility that the Odeon of Herodes Atticus theater was built to honor a wife that Herodes had killed. Nonetheless, the Odeon of Herodes theater in ancient Athens was impressive in its original day, and what has been restored and renovated still serves as a primary performance venue for the city.

What is primarily left of the original Athens Odeon of Herode Atticus is a large stone wall that rises two-stories behind the renovated stage, and serves as a picturesque backdrop for onlookers sitting in the half-dome seats. Like the stage, the audience section of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus had to be renovated, and the restorations were done in marble. The once great theater in ancient Athens has returned to service, and each year the Athens Festival brings a number of performances to the Athens Odeon of Herodes Atticus. It is one of the most important cultural events in Greece, highlighting not only renowned Greek artists, but many of the world's best performers in song, dance and theater.

The Athens Festival is part of the Hellenic Festival, which dates back to 1955, and has historically included the Epidaurus Festival of Ancient Drama, held at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. Currently, the Lykavittos Theatre and the Little Theatre of Epidaurus also hold performances during the Hellenic Festival. The Lykavittos Theatre has 4,000 seats, and its location at the top of Lykavittos Hill makes for quite a setting. The shows at Lykavittos Hill are usually popular concerts showcasing some of the most recognized groups or artists from an array of genres. Bob Dylan and B.B. King have performed there, and if you can only imagine seeing a show at the top of a hill overlooking Athens, the idea can be quite captivating.

The Hellenic and Athens Festivals run from June to September every year, and it is a good idea to try to get tickets to a show if you can at any of the venues. You should definitely see at least one show at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. It's not everyday that you get to watch a concert or theatrical play in a 2,000 year old theater on the slopes of the Acropolis. If you are heading to an evening show, you might consider heading to the nearby neighborhood of Kolonaki for dinner at a nice restaurant. There is a restaurant at the top of Lykavittos Hill as well, which you should make an attempt to at least have a drink at as part of your Athens itinerary.

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