Monday 3 October 2016

The ancient Roman theatre in Milos

Having visited the catacombs we walked up the steps

and enjoyed the views of the gulf of Milos and Klima, the village

Behind us we could see the village of Tripyti.

In front of us, the town of Plaka.

We took this path

and reached the remains of the city walls of the ancient city of Klima which used to be the island's first port.A bit further on we reached the area where in 1820 a local farmer discovered the statue of Venus de Milo.  (Today the precise spot of its discovery is unknown). Created during the late Hellenistic period (c. 120 BC), made of Parian marble, it is assumed that the statue originally stood in the Gymmasium of the ancient city.

We continued along the path and finally got our first glimpse of the Roman theatre.

Built on a prominent spot on the hillside, the theatre overlooks the ancient harbour and the village Klima: the views are spectacular and its acoustics are very good. Theatrical and music performances take place here today as in its present state the theatre has a seating capacity of 700.

The theatre was originally constructed by the inhabitants of the ancient city of Klima, possibly during the Hellinistic Age (3rd century BC). After the destruction of the city by the Athenians in Roman times, above the preserved foundations of the classic theatre, a bigger one was built made of snow-white Parian marble and remarkable bas-reliefs, which it is estimated had a seating capacity of 7000.

We continued our descent and now we had a much better view.

Seven marble tiers, six rows of seats, the auditorium, the orchestra, the stage floor and a lot of architecturally elaborate parts are preserved. In spire of the losses of material through stone robbing and illicit excavations, and the fact that only part has been revealed and investigated, it is one of the best preserved ancient theatres in the Cycladic islands.

It's a fine example of a theatrical structure of its time, with features corresponding to those of Roman and Romanised theatres of the eastern provinces of the Roman empire - the type that was formed on the prototype of the Greek theatre.

The horseshoe-shaped auditorium is for the most part constructed on a natural slope while its extremities are formed of earth filling supported by strong retaining walls. The excavated section which holds about 700 spectators and is estimated to constitute about 1/10 of the whole, belongs to the lower part of the auditorium. This is divided into seven wedge-shaped blocks of marble seats by eight marble stairways.

The wall of the stage has three blind doorways with marble frames - only the western one is preserved.

The orchestra (originally, in Greek theatres, the place where the chorus performed) is slightly larger than a semicircle and laid out 1.60m below the first row of seats so that it could be used as an arena for gladiatorial combats or animal fights. The floor was of beaten earth and its  circumference had a facing of marble slabs.

At the south side of the western retaining wall is an entrance with marble door-jambs, through which the spectators reached the auditorium by passing below the blocks of seating via a vaulted corridor with a staircase. The walls of the corridor had probably painted decoration.

A last look at the view of the ancient port and Klima

another look at the theatre once we reached the top of the hill 

and we walked back to the old olive tree by the catacombs and rang for a taxi to take us back to Adamas.


  1. There is a simple beauty to ancient amphitheatres which tells us so much about the people who built them as well as enhancing the current landscape. This one looks lovely, and it is always an extra delight, I think, to have it to yourselves.

  2. Having something like this to oneself is a great bonus Olga. While I was doing this post I found out that it opened in July of this year, so we were very lucky to have the opportunity to see it.