About Sagunto Roman Theatre
The Sagunto Roman Theatre dates back to the first century when it was built into the side of a mountain.
Sagunto Roman Theatre history
Sagunto is a town situated 30 kilometres north of Valencia. Today it is the 5th biggest city in the region, but many centuries ago, during the Roman period, it was one of the most important cities in the area.
The theatre was originally built on a hillside, making use of the natural topography. It sits just below Sagunto Castle, which dominates the landscape and is adjacent to a medieval Jewish cemetery. It occupies the intermediate terrace, between the city and the upper platform chaired by the Forum, Civic Centre of the municipality, responding to urban planning from the times of Emperor Augustus.
The Sagunto Roman Theatre has the honour of being the first site to be declared a Spanish National Monument, an accolade it achieved in 1896. However, while the initial incarnation of the Sagunto Roman Theatre would have been an Ancient Roman creation, the theatre seen today has undergone significant – and controversial – renovations, making it appear brand new.
Up until the restoration in 1994, this first century Roman theatre in Spain was a magnificent ruin visible on the hillside from a long distance. Though the restoration has made it functional once again, it has covered up much of this historic structure.
The idea of reconstructing a Roman building as if it were an ‘artificial ruin’, without propagating the idea of a Romantic renovation or proposing the juxtaposition of a contemporary structure and that of antiquity fed a contentious debate as to whether the restoration should have been completed this way.
Sagunto Roman Theatre today
Today, the 8,000-seater Sagunto Roman Theatre plays host to events and shows as well as generally being open to the public for visits.
It has a typical semi-circular theatre shape, with many of the terraces having been covered with new, smooth stone flags. A large, dominating rectangular structure now covers the stage area. The ends of the terraces have been left unrestored and through these it is possible to get an impression of what the site was like before the restoration and even how it looked before much of the stonework was destroyed during the Peninsula Wars.
The site is open to the public and admission is free.
Getting to Sagunto Roman Theatre
The roman theatre is a 30 minute drive from Valencia airport. It is also accessible by bus or train. The nearest station is Sagunt.