Herod Atticus Odeon
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The Herod Atticus Odeon is a typical Roman theatre. After the restoration, the theatre hosts Greek and international performances under the Athenian sky.

When Pausanias, a Greek traveler and geographer of the 2nd century, visited Athens during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, he called the Odeon theatre "the best building of its type".

In ancient times, odeons were built for music competitions. And during the past 60 years, this ancient stone theatre hosted some of the best musical performances in the world, including concerts by Nana Mouskouri, Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra. Today, the Herod Atticus Odeon in Athens holds 4 680 people.

The tickets to the Odeon of Herod Atticus can be purchased on city websites with showbills of events in Athens.

The history of the Herod Atticus Odeon’ origin

Widely known to locals as simply "Herodon", the theatre was built between 160 and 174 AD by the wealthy patron of Athens, Herodes Atticus, as an ode to his late wife Rigilla. This was the third odeon in Athens that was built in a distinctly Roman style, unlike the nearby Dionysus Theatre. With its Roman arches and three-storey stage building, originally the Odeon was partially covered with a wood and tile roof. It was a solid structure, but the masonry was frail. Porous stone blocks were forming the two sides of the walls, while the interior part was filled with rough stones. Gradually, the circular auditorium of 35 rows turned into a semicircle paved with black and white marble. In the upper part, there were archways, and in the lower niches, the statues were set according to the tradition of Roman theatres. Mosaic floors with geometric and linear motifs covered the entrances and staircases to the backstage area.

The theatre construction activities were extremely expensive. This is evidenced by ancient records relating mainly to cedar wood used for roofing. It seems that the Odeon with a radius of 38 m did not have any internal supports, since there are no traces of them that have been preserved. This architecture persists even these days that is a huge achievement.

The original structure was destroyed in 268 AD during the military raids of the Herulians, who burned and destroyed many buildings in ancient Athens. They were never restored. In the following years, the Odeon was used to strengthen the city. The southern wall of the theatre became a part of the late-Roman wall, rebuilt in the 3rd century AD. And in the 8th century, the high wall of the stage was built into another, the basement of which had surrounded the hill of the Acropolis, called Rizokastro.

In 1826, C. Favier invaded the Acropolis from the Odeon. The French philhellene general and his soldiers, during the siege of the Acropolis by the Turks, supplied the besieged Greeks with provisions and gunpowder.

The Archaeological society and particularly the archaeologist K. Pittakis held the excavations of the Odeon site in the middle of the 19th century. At that time, the monument was cleared of tons of soil.

During the German occupation (1941-1944), the Herod Atticus Odeon hosted performances by the Athens state orchestra, as well as the newly formed Greek national opera with young Maria Callas. Back then, she was known as Maria Kalogeropoulou and was starring in Fidelio's “Beethoven” and Kalomoiris’ “Master Builder”.

In the 1950s, the city authorities decided to completely reconstruct the Odeon. The work was completed in 1952-1953. Since then, the old photos of the Herod Atticus Odeon survived. Since 1957, the theatre has been used for artistic events (concerts, performances of ancient drama, etc.), mainly in the context of the Athens festival. The Odeon was chosen as the main venue for the Athens festival and for the Epidaurus festival. The grand opening took place in 1955.

In 1973, the famous “Miss Universe” pageant was held here. Today, the Herod Atticus Odeon remains to be one of the main venues for festivals. It hosts a variety of programs: from majestic ballets and arias to ancient Greek tragedies. You will hardly forget the performance that you see in this theatre.

Why it is worth a visit

Being carved out of the rocky southern slope of the Acropolis hill, it is one of the oldest and the best open-air theatres in the world. The 4500-seat theatre was completely restored in 1950, and today is the main venue for the annual Athens festival.

In addition, the Odeon auditorium is one of the most beautiful concert halls in Athens.

Despite the fact that the theatre was almost completely reconstructed, the new Herod Atticus Odeon repeats the original construction of the 2nd century AD. The only difference is that the modern Odeon is not covered with a wooden roof.

The Athens festival

This is an annual art festival that takes place in Athens and Epidaurus from May to October. The Athens festival is considered to be one of the most famous and oldest festivals in Greece. It includes musical, theatrical and other cultural events, hosting world-famous Greek and other performers.

The performances of the Athens festival begin on June 1 and end in mid-July.

The start time is 9:00 p.m.

The Odeon of Herod Atticus is located on the southern slopes of the Acropolis, on Dionysiou Areopagitou street. This is a pedestrian zone in the Makrigiannis area.

The entrance to the Odeon is exactly from this street. In fact, it is a passage that connects the main archaeological sites of Athens. The area is easily accessible due to its location in the heart of the city.

The Odeon is a short walk from the metro station "Acropolis".

If you travel by bus, then take the No.230 and get off at the stop of "Erechtiou" or "Afetiria".


  • The theatre is open to the public only during performances and concerts. But it can be clearly seen during the ascent to the Acropolis of Athens.
  • Make sure to take commemorative photos or selfies if you are in the Acropolis. The best photos of the Odeon are taken during daylight hours. The view from above is incredible!
  • The stairs leading to the rows are very steep. We recommend that you wear comfortable flat shoes when you go to a performance. The high-heeled shoes are also banned in the theatre.
  • There is a limited parking zone in the surrounding area. A parking zone of the Syngrou-Fix station (metro line 2) is a little further. If you use the metro to return from Odeon, you can use a 50% discount for parking when you present your metro ticket.
  • Children under 6 years are not allowed to enter performances.
  • You cannot smoke, drink or eat any food here.
  • It is forbidden to take photos or record audio or video during performances.
  • Please note that wasted food and drinks (still happens), and especially chewing gum, can cause irreparable harm to a historical monument. So when you leave, don't forget to put all the trash into the fixed trash bins.
  • There are cushions on each seat to make it comfortable for the audience to watch the performance. However, the seats with backs are available only on the first and last rows.

Caring for people with disabilities

Performances are available for people who move in wheelchairs, have diseases of the musculoskeletal system, visual disturbance or hearing disorder.

The visitors in wheelchairs are advised to arrive for the performance between 7:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.

Eight wheelchair spaces are available in the A1 sector of the lower tier, which has been adapted specifically for them. At the same time, each person has the right to take one accompanying person, who will sit in the A2 sector immediately behind him or her.

The other seats are located in the A2 sector for people with disabilities, who also have the right to take one attendant with them. 13 adapted seats are available in sector A2.