About Roman Theatre of Benevento
The Roman Theatre of Benevento, known locally as Teatro Romano di Benevento, is a well-preserved semi-circular ancient theatre built during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Hadrian.
Measuring 295 feet in diameter and constructed of rock, brick and cement, the Roman Theatre of Benevento was completed in approximately 126AD and would have held up to 10,000 spectators.
Today, the lower part of the façade of the Roman Theatre of Benevento stands intact, with a series of twenty-five archways. Some of the stage scenery or ‘frons scenae’ can still be discerned, notably parts of its doorways.
History of Roman Theatre of Benevento
The town of Benevento has been a Samnite, Roman, Lombard, and even pontifical town: what has remained a constant, however, is the Roman Theatre of Benevento (Teatro Romano di Benevento), which is an ancient Roman edifice and one of the town’s most important archaeological assets.
It dates back to the 2nd century, when it was built by Emperor Hadrian during the second century, then inaugurated in 126 AD. It is situated just off the city’s ‘cardo maximus’, the main street, and sits between Pont’Arsa and the Cathedral.
It would have been enormous, at 90 metres in diameter and once able to host up to 15,000 spectators. Indeed, it is made out of Roman concrete, with blocks of calcareous and clay stone, and would originally have been made up of three layers with 25 arches each.
Part of the structure is well-preserved, with the ‘cavea’ – where the spectators sat to watch the shows – demonstrating Tuscan, Ionic, and Corinthian architectural styles. The stairs and scenic building were covered in polychrome marble slabs and stuccos and are equally well-preserved.
The theatre was sadly abandoned during the Lombard age, and was partially buried and used as foundations for houses. Moreover, in the 18th century, the remaining materials of the theatre were used to build the Church of Santa Maria della Verita.
In 1890, archaeologist Almerico Meomarti campaigned for its renovation. The works, however, started much later and were halted in 1930 after a strong earthquake.
in 1957, the theatre was definitively restored and finished.
Roman Theatre of Benevento Today
Today, the theatre has been restored to its original function, and hosts a range of live music, dance, and spoken-word performances.
Visitors can also pay a small entrance fee to walk around the site and imagine what it might have been like when filled with 15,000 spectators.
Getting to Roman Theatre of Benevento
From the centre of Naples, the Roman Theatre of Benevento is an hour and 15 minute drive, via the A16/E842 roads. There’s also a regular schedule of connecting buses, trains, and trams, which take just under two hours to reach the site. For those who would like a scenic bike ride, the site is reachable in around three and a half hours via the SS7 road.