The oldest theatre in Italy
A symbol of glory, decadence and rebirth, this performance venue takes one back to the era of the Republic and the Roman Empire, when the theatre served as a source of entertainment and mythical messages.
History of the Theatre
Built at the end of the 2nd century BC, the ancient building was modified in the Augustan age. The changes brought it closer to Roman theatrical architecture, by placing honour boxes (tribunalia) and reconstructing the vertical backdrop of the orchestra (scaenae frons), which was enriched with columns made of precious marbles and refined decorations.
The Theatre was part of an architectural complex consisting of a large artificial terrace, on which there was also a temple, probably dedicated to Apollo. At the beginning of the III century AD, at the behest of Septimius Severus, the theatre underwent grandiose renovation works, which were then completed by Gordian III. The cavea reached a diameter of circa 85 metres and the scenic building, decorated with three rows of columns, capitals, architraves and sculptures was roughly 26 metres high. In late ancient and medieval times, the ruins of the building became the location of a construction site for the recovery and reuse of architectural marble materials.
Between the 12th and 13th centuries, an artisan district was built on the then underground cavea for the production of bricks and ceramics. Only a vague memory remained in the modern age of the ancient theatre. A country lane passed over the ruins of the scene on the almost buried structures and slipped under the vaults of the median ambulatory. It then exited and continued towards the medieval centre.
The appearance of the ruins led to the area being called "the Caves" and, to protect travellers, a chapel with an altar dedicated to the Madonna was installed. The first systematic explorations of the monument were carried out in the early 1960s by Werner Johannowsky. After some excavation and restoration work in the second half of the 1980s, an articulated restoration and enhancement project of the site was carried out starting in 1998, which lasted over a decade.
The discoveries that took place over the years made it possible to clarify many aspects of the monumental complex and the restoration work carried out made it possible to return the ancient building to public use, enabling it to host important theatrical performances.
An entire sector of the Archaeological Museum of Teanum Sidicinum is dedicated to the Theatre of Teano, with reconstructive models of the complex in its various phases, architectural remains, including richly decorated architraves and capitals, and sculptural apparatus of great value.