The spectacle of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens
Built by Athenian benefactor (and Roman senator) Herodes Atticus in around 161 AD as a memorial to his late wife, Regilla, the Herodion (as it’s commonly called) is one of the most striking Athens monuments and one of the world’s oldest functioning theatres.
There can be few better ways to enjoy the Athenian night sky than a musical or theatrical performance of the Athens-Epidaurus Festival, for which the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is the main venue.
It wasn’t always open-air, with the original three-storey façade of arches being closed in by a wooden and tiled roof, making it the most prestigious Roman-era theatre in ancient Athens and a landmark of the city, even in antiquity. However, the roof burnt down around a century after it was built and its condition declined over the centuries (especially during Ottoman times) – although that didn’t stop it from continuing to stage performances and public events, even during the wartime German occupation.
Its rebirth came in 1950, with a refurbishment project that included the reconstruction of the characteristically steep tiers of seating from Pentelic marble, taking the capacity to around 5,000.
The venue has since hosted some of the world’s leading performers – from home-grown divas Maria Callas and Nana Mouskouri to international legends Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra and pop icons Elton John and Sting.
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Where is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens?
- The Herodes Atticus theatre is found at the base of the southwestern slope of the Acropolis, on Dionysiou Areopagitou St. It is a 750m walk (10 mins) from Acropolis metro station (red line).
What is the best way to reach central Athens from the airport or port?
- You can catch a taxi (about €38 during the day) or bus, or hire a car from Athens International Airport, or take the metro directly to the centre (blue line).
- There are also taxis (€25 during the day), buses and a metro station (green line) at Piraeus Port (change to the blue line at Monastiraki or red line at Omonia). Depending on your ferry gate, it could be a 15-20min walk to the metro station.
When is the best time to visit the Odeon of Herodes Atticus?
- Live performances at Athens’ Herodion theatre take place from May to early October, but you can always experience the outside from street level and from above whilst visiting the Acropolis.
- Ticket costs will depend on the performance.
How long are shows at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens?
- The length of performances vary but typically last 2-3 hours (some operas can be longer).
- You need a ticket for a performance to enter the Herodion (entry is not allowed after the start of a performance, except during an interval, and for under 6-year-olds).
- More details on performances & tickets can be found here.
- There is wheelchair access. (You should find information regarding assisted and special access while booking your tickets.)
- It’s possible to hire a cushion before entering to make the marble seats more comfortable, but it’s worth bringing something soft to sit on.
- Comfortable flat shoes are highly recommended, especially if your seats are in the upper tiers (the theatre has a strict ‘no heels policy’ to protect the marble).
- Leading around the Acropolis, the pedestrianised Dionysiou Areopagitou St is one of the most atmospheric in Athens. So it’s worth combining the show with a stroll around the Acropolis. There’s a choice of fantastic stops for a bite or a drink along the way.
- For something livelier, there are plenty of Athens nightlife options in the neighbourhoods around the Acropolis.