Theatre of Marcellus

Theatre of Marcellus

The Theatre of Marcellus is an ancient open-air theatre in Rome, Italy built in the closing years of the Roman Republic.


Julius Caesar started the construction of the building but died before completion then his successor, Augustus continued and finished the project after his death.

At Work

At the theatre, locals and visitors alike were able to watch performances of drama and song.


It was named after Marcus Marcellus, Emperor Augustus’ nephew, who died 5 years before theater’s completion.


The theater was completed in 13BC and formally inaugurated in 12BC by Augustus.


It was the largest and most important theater in Ancient Rome which could seat around 11 to 20,000 spectators


The theatre was built mainly of tuff, and concrete faced with stones in the pattern known as Opus Reticulatum, completely sheathed in white travertine.


In the 12th century, the Theater of Marcellus was owned by the Fabii family who turned the theater into a fortress.

In 1368, the building was acquired by the Savelli family who asked architect Baldassare Peruzzi to transform the building into a fortified Palazzo.

In the 17th century the Palazzo fell into the hands of the Orsini.


The theater was used for more than 400 years


By the end of the 10th century, the theater was largely in ruins

At that time of its construction, the Theatre of Pompey already existed. However, to compete with a rival, Julius Caesar decided to build a new theater nearby.

Theatre of Pompey

Theater of Marcellus had 41 arches for each of the 3 tiers: Doric for the first two and Ionic for the last.


The uppermost portion of the Theater was decorated with enormous marble theatre masks.



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