The Western (Hellenistic) Theater in the Ancient City of Laodicea, which dates back 2,200 years and was found to have been entered with a ticket system like today’s theaters, is preparing to open on Aug. 30 with a capacity of 10,000 people.
The excavation work started in the ancient city, located in Eskihisar neighborhood in the western province of Denizli’s Pamukkale district, which is on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Tentative List, continues.
Speaking about the works, the head of the excavations, Professor Celal Şimşek, said that the Western (Hellenistic) Theater had a ticket system and a lodge like today’s theaters.
“One of our fields of study is the western Hellenistic Theater. This theater is located on the Asopos Hill, where there are early settlements on the west side of the city in a way that will take the western breeze coming from the west of the city.
In the West and North Theater, we made a project in 2019 with the Denizli Metropolitan Municipality and South Aegean Development Agency (GEKA). In this 24-month project, we continue to work to open this place to the service of people by fully restoring the seats first,” he said.
About the seating capacities of the Western and Northern Theaters, Şimşek said, “In this western theater, especially the lower seating steps were made of marble and the upper seating steps were made of travertine. It has a diameter of around 98.5 meters. The theater has a seating capacity of 8,000 people in the ancient period, but today it is enough for 12,000 people. The Northern Theater has a diameter of more than 124 meters and is a larger theater. It is made entirely of marble. We wanted to revive this theater first.”
Expressing that they pay great attention to the restoration works initiated at the Western Theater in accordance with the original, Şimşek said that the especially the seating blocks were chosen according to the color and touch of that period.
“We don’t use new materials here. There are a few missing blocks, but we determined their color and material. Now we brought travertine blocks here and are making their restoration. When the work is done, we will use a new material between five and eight percent only in the whole restoration. As a team, we attach importance to international restoration criteria. In other words, there should be around 70 percent original material, and besides, the appearance of the ancient period should not be destroyed,” Şimşek said.
Şimşek said that they planned to open the whole theater as of May 2021, but before that they are working for the presentation of the first theater play there after centuries in August this year.
“I hope we can realize it in the end of August. There will be a seating capacity for 10,000 people. This theater lost its importance in the fourth century and it will meet people again after 1,600 years,” he added.