Roman Theatre at Palmyra

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Roman Theatre at Palmyra
المسرح الروماني بتدمر
Palmyra theater02(js).jpg
Overview of the Roman Theatre at Palmyra
Roman Theatre at Palmyra is located in Syria
Roman Theatre at Palmyra
Shown within Syria
Location Palmyra, Syria
Coordinates 34°33′02″N 38°16′07″E / 34.5505°N 38.2687°E / 34.5505; 38.2687
Type Roman theatre
Width 92 metres (302 ft)
Material ashlar stones
Periods Roman, Palmyrene
Site notes
Condition restored
Ownership Public
Public access Yes

The Roman Theatre at Palmyra (Arabic: المسرح الروماني بتدمر‎) is a Roman theatre in ancient Palmyra in the Syrian Desert. The unfinished theatre dates back to the second-century CE Severan period.[1] The theatre's remains have since been restored and it serves as a venue for the annual Palmyra festival.


The second-century CE theatre was built in the center of a semicircular colonnaded piazza which opens up to the South Gate of Palmyra.[2] The 82 by 104 metres (269 by 341 ft) piazza was located to the south-west of the main colonnaded street. The unfinished cavea is 92 metres (302 ft) in diameter and consists only of an ima cavea, the lowest section of the cavea, directly surrounding the orchestra.[3] The ima cavea is organized into eleven cunei of twelve rows each[3] and faces north-northeast towards the cardo maximus.[4] The theatre's aditus maximus, its main entrance, is 3.5 metres (11 ft) in width, and leads to a stone-paved orchestra with a diameter of 23.5 metres (77 ft). The orchestra is bounded by a circular wall with a diameter of 20.3 metres (67 ft).[3]

The proscenium wall is decorated with ten curved and nine rectangular niches placed alternately.[3] The stage measures 45.5 by 10.5 metres (149 by 34 ft) and is accessed by two staircases.[5] The scaenae frons had five doors:[6] the main entrance, or regia, built into a broad curved niche; two guest doors on either side of the regia, or hospitalis, built into shallow rectangular niches; and two extra doors, at either end of the stage.[5] Emperor Nero is known to have placed his statue in the niche of the regia of the theatre at Palmyra.[7] The columns at the stage are decorated in the Corinthian order.[5]

In the 1950s the theatre was cleared from the sand and subsequently underwent restoration works.[8]




  1. ^ Sear, 2006, p. 21.
  2. ^ Ball, 2000, p. 296.
  3. ^ a b c d Sear, 2006, p. 321.
  4. ^ Finlayson, 2012, p. 312.
  5. ^ a b c Sear, 2006, p. 322.
  6. ^ Sear, 2006, p. 108.
  7. ^ Kernodle, 1989, p. 127.
  8. ^ Carter; Dunston; Thomas, 2008, p. 208.


  • Ball, Warwick (2000). Rome in the East: The Transformation of the an Empire. Routledge. ISBN 9780415113762. 
  • Sear, Frank (2006). Roman Theatres: An Architectural Study. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198144694. 
  • Finlayson, Cynthia (2012). "New Excavations and a Reexamination of the Great Roman Theater at Apamea, Syria, Seasons 1–3 (2008–2010)". American Journal of Archaeology 116 (2): 277–319. doi:10.3764/aja.116.2.0277. 
  • Kernodle, George Riley (1989). The Theatre in History. University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 9781557280121. 
  • Thomas, Amelia (2008). Syrian & Lebanon 3. Lonely Planet. ISBN 9781741046090.