The only ancient theatre in Rome
The Theatre of Marcellus is an important exemplar of architecture in the Italian capital. It is the only stone theatre dating back to ancient Rome of which significant traces remain today. Its construction on the Field of Mars dates back to 17 BC, when the huge tuff and concrete structure, covered in travertine, was completed: with its 130-metre diameter, it could accommodate up to 15,000 spectators.
The shape is typical of Roman theatres: a semi-circular cavea enclosed by a three-storey façade with 41 arches closed by semi-columns, Doric on the first floor and Ionic on the second. The third, which was destroyed, had a marquee that covered the entire building. The scaena was decorated with marble statues, columns and 36 bronze vases to improve the acoustics.
Behind the stage, in the archaeological area surrounding the theatre, stood two small temples. The first was the Temple of Bellona, dating back to 296 BC. Only a small part of its structure remains from the Augustan period, with 11 columns on the long sides and 6 on the short ones. While three white marble columns of the Temple of Apollo, erected in 431 BC, were restored in the 1940s and can still be seen today.