The Roman Theater in Cadiz dates from both the first century, and from 1980.
It was built in the first century and over time became lost and forgotten until it was rediscovered in 1980. Now, it’s partly excavated, and it’s possible to enter and sit in the theater much like the original patrons.
It does take some imagination to get from now…
In its glory days, the theater could handle a crowd of 20,000, one of the largest in the empire. All were seated according to their social status. The lower and closer to the stage, the bigger the big shot. Some things never change.
Around the outside there was a passageway to make access easier.
The passageway has entrances that lead to some of the seats reserved for the Roman calvary soldiers.
Now, the entrances lead to a wooden platform that rises just above the excavation.
Where it does not interfere with the excavation, concrete has been poured that extends the original seating. Without disturbing the ancient ruins, you can sit in the theater much the same as in the first century.
At the top, furthest from the stage, was a covered area. This is where women viewed the shows.
To reach the theater, you pass through a museum that explains the history, and displays more artifacts. It’s interesting to me how archaeologists puzzle together these fragments. It’s always seemed a fascinating job.
My favorite artifact is this one.
The metal base has a mirror that reflects the writing on the underside of the stone. This writing was never intended to be seen. It would have been covered by the stone itself and all the surrounding stones. Two things are written there.
First, BAE, is the name of the stone mason, sort of his trademark. The second was added later, and is graffiti that means, “Balbus thief.” The Balbus family were the prominent Cadiz family that financed the theater and many of its shows. However, as the inscription implies, not everyone revered the family.
It wasn’t just the occasional graffiti artist who had issues with members of the Balbus family. Rather than transcribing, I photographed this unflattering commentary.
Like I said, some things never change.