Olympic Theater

Vicenza is the birthplace of the famous architect Andrea Palladio, whose work marked the city’s appearance. One of his many creations, considered the most remarkable, is the Teatro Olimpico. Palladio returned to his hometown in 1579, bringing with him a knowledge of all aspects of Roman architecture. Begun in 1580, the year of Palladio’s death, and completed five years later by his pupil Vicenzo Scamosi, the Teatro Olimpico was inspired by the theaters of antiquity, with a backdrop representing ancient Thebes. The stage is cleverly designed to appear much larger than its actual dimensions – 5.20 m.


Description: the Olympic Theater /picture source: Shutterstock/;

The opening performance was Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and was a great success. However, after a few performances, the theater was closed. The scenography for “Oedipus the King”, representing the streets of Thebes, has remained intact to this day. In 1997 the theater was reopened for Oedipus Rex performances.

Scamosi follows Palladio’s sketches, but also adds a few elements himself. To his credit are the Odeo and Antiodeo rooms, as well as the entrance arch that leads to the street through a medieval wall. Entering the theater, you will first find yourself in the Antiodeo hall, decorated with monochrome frescoes depicting the most important events in the history of Vicenza in the 16th century. It is followed by the Odèo hall, whose walls are painted with colorful frescoes. Today, the two halls are used for business conferences and meetings. Passing the hall with the frescoes, you will find yourself in front of the amphitheater, the orchestra and the stage. The auditorium is decorated with wooden columns painted to look like marble. The stage is also made of the same material. It is worth noting that the name “Olympic Theater” is due to the frescoes depicting the Olympian gods. The ceiling in this room depicts the sky.


Description: the Olympic Theater /picture source: Shutterstock/;

Although it was built a long time ago, the Olimpico Theater lives a very active life – many theatrical and musical performances are performed there. However, in order to preserve this monument of culture and architecture, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the capacity of spectators is limited to 400. Theatrical performances are held in autumn and spring. The reason is that the building is not adapted to summer and winter working conditions: it does not have central heating and air conditioning.

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