Malaga Roman Theatre - History and Facts | History Hit

Malaga Roman Theatre

Malaga, Andalusia, Spain

Malaga Roman Theatre is an impressive surviving vestige of ancient Malaga.

Peta Stamper

22 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Malaga Roman Theatre

Malaga Roman Theatre (Teatro Romano de Málaga) is a picturesque surviving vestige of ancient Malaga. Constructed in the first century AD, during Augustus’ reign, this picturesque theatre rose approximately 16 metres in high and spanned 31 metres in diameter. Hidden until 1951, today Malaga Roman Theatre is open to the public with an interpretative centre on site.

Malaga Roman Theatre history

Built during the reign of the Emperor Augustus in the 1st century AD, the theatre was continually in use until the 3rd century. The theatre was constructed with stone and built, unusually for the Romans, into the hillside as was the Greek style. The Romans took the town known as Malaca after the Punic Wars and transformed it into a confederated city under the Lex Flavia Malacitana. The establishment of the Roman settlement was characterised by building features of other Roman towns, including the theatre.

The Roman theatre was discovered in 1951, hidden underneath the Casa de la Cultura building which had been built between 1940 and 1942 and renovated in the 1960s. During these works, the first signs of the theatre were revealed. The Casa de la Culture was therefore demolished to allow for a full survey and excavation of the theatre remains, becoming a part of the cultural programmes of 1992.

Excavations first uncovered the proescenium (stage) and remnants of the orchestra, a seating place reserved for senators and those of highest standing. The stands had a 31-metre radius and rose to a height of 16 metres. The theatre consisted of 13 semi-circular raised rows of seats (the cavea) and entry or exit passageways (known as vomitorium).

Between 756 and 780 AD, after the Moors had settled in Andalucía, the theatre was used as a quarry to excavated stone for the Alcabaza Fortress. During the 20th century, the Malaga Roman Theatre was fortunate to survive the bombing during the Spanish Civil War.

Malaga Roman Theatre today

Today, the theatre is open to the public to visit all year round. In the summer, the venue is used in its original function as a space for open-air performances, able to seat 220 spectators. There is also a Centro de Interpretació adjacent to the theatre – since opening in October 2011 it has been free of charge.

The interpretation centre itself is a lovely building: long and rectangular made of steel, glass and wood. On the outside of the interpretation centre, note the excavated original fragments from the Lex Flavia Malacitana – the municipal code of law which granted free-born people the privileges of Roman citizenship.

Getting to Malaga Roman Theatre

For those driving, the theatre is just off the N-340 there is 24 hour parking at Aparcamiento Alcabaza across the road or at Parking Central off the main road. If using public transport there are multiple bus stops at the site: Paeo del Parque, a minutes walk away, is on bus routes 1, 4, 14, 19, 25, 36 and 37 or Paseo del parque serves routes 21, 38, N4.