Arches, Theater of Marcellus

Theater of Marcellus

Today, the remains of the Theater of Marcellus are visible beneath the fortified palazzo on top. At the time of its construction in 11 BC, it could hold 14,000 spectators. If the structural design looks familiar, it’s because it inspired the design of the Colosseum some 60 years later.

In the 1300s it was acquired by the Fabii family who turned it into a fortress. Later the Orsini family acquired it in the 16th century and hired an architect to convert it into a palazzo. The residential structure you see on the top three floors is that conversion. Today the palazzo has been divided up into multiple apartments. How cool would that be to live in a 16th century palace built on 1st century BC foundations?

Theater of Marcellus and Apartments
Theater of Marcellus and Apartments
Apartments over the Theater of Marcellus
Apartments over the Theater of Marcellus
Arches, Theater of Marcellus
Arches, Theater of Marcellus
Apartments over the Theater of Marcellus
Apartments over the Theater of Marcellus

Under the heading of “who wears it better?” – Which works better, the black-and-white or the color?

Theater of Marcellus, Detail, Black-and-White
Theater of Marcellus, Detail, Black-and-White
Theater of Marcellus, Detail, Color
Theater of Marcellus, Detail, Color

Immediately behind the theater is the ruins of the temple of Apollo Sosianus (so named for the man responsible for reconstructing it in the style we see today). There was a temple to Apollo on this site since the 5th century BC. It was originally outside the main city boundaries because it was a foreign cult, imported from Greece. It sits directly across the Roman street from the Theater of Marcellus. Because of the proximity to the city walls, the Senate chambers and the theater, many backroom political deals were struck in its chambers.

Temple of Apollo Sosiano
Temple of Apollo Sosiano

The three columns you see today were re-discovered and re-erected in the 1930s after the demolition of an apartment building to re-expose to view the Theater of Marcellus. The columns’ pieces were found in the arcades of the theater. While they have been placed on the pedestal and re-topped with their capitals and frieze, it is highly unlikely that they are in their actual original positions.

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