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Ancient Roman Stadium in Patras, Greece Opens to Visitors

Ancient Roman stadium of Patras, Greece
Ancient Roman stadium of Patras, Greece. Credit: Carole Raddato / wikimedia commons cc by 2.0

The Ancient Roman stadium of Patras, Greece is now open to visitors after being restored, the Greek Ministry of Culture announced.

The glorious monument is attributed to an offering by the Roman Emperor Domitian. The construction of the Roman Stadium is related to the celebration of the centenary of Patras as a Roman colony, and it served as a venue for artistic and athletic competitions, such as the ‘Caesarea,’ as well as gladiatorial contests.

From its structure, one can assume that the Romans also used the stadium as a theater, which was a common practice in that era. The Roman Stadium of Patras is probably the largest monument of that period in Greece. This is revealing of the importance of Patras for the Romans.

The Ephorate of Antiquities has agreed with the municipality of Patras to demolish four nearby buildings in order to highlight this.

Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni pointed out the significance of the neighboring Roman Odeon and the work being carried out there. “We should think about how these two monuments will be unified so that they can be visited together,” she said.

The restoration and enhancement of the Roman Stadium of Patras has a budget of  €335,000 ($355,000). The project was implemented in the years 2020-2023 by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Achaia.

In addition to the initial study for the restoration of the monumental remains, four additional studies were carried out during the implementation of the project. These were essential to the surrounding area but in particular for the restoration and completion of the Roman Stadium and its opening.

Throughout the course of the project, in addition to general restoration, the roofing was attended to, and geotechnical and stormwater management provided enhancements and accessibility for all.

The history behind the Patras Roman Stadium

Roman Emperor Domitian ordered the construction of the Roman Stadium of Patras in the 1st century AD. Construction took place as part of celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Roman colony in 14 AD.

In some of the underground rooms, tiled Christian tombs were found, but these were unfortunately unfinished. Hence, it is not possible at present to date the abandonment of the monument.

The stage is rather long with two horseshoes, a northern and a southern. Its dimensions are estimated to be ninety meters by two hundred meters in length.

On the eastern side, there are at least two side rooms that are also rather long. Below these, one finds the underground corridors for the service of athletes and performers. The walls were built according to the opus reticulatum and have sustained many cracks as a result of earthquakes.

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