Taormina’s Greek Theater – Teatro Greco

Taormina Greek Theatre Photo by Margie MiklasTaormina is one of the most popular and beautiful places in Sicily. It was my first stop in Sicily and I fell in love immediately. I’d recommend this classy resort city to anyone planning a trip to Sicilia, the southern island of Italy.

Isola Bella in TaorminaAside from its beauty and location on the Ionian Sea, Taormina is home to Teatro Greco,  the   Greek theater, which is one of the largest ancient amphitheatres in Sicily, second to the one in Siracusa.

Taormina Ancient Greek Theatre Photo by Margie MiklasThis old theater sits atop a hill and provides a panoramic view of the beautiful blue Ionian Sea 702 feet below.

 Teatro Greco in Taormina View of Ionian Sea Photo by Margie MiklasIn the other direction, Mount Etna rises up almost 11,000 feet, and the scene is every photographer’s dream, especially on a clear day. Even though it was rainy and cloudy, I could see Mount Etna and the view was amazing.

DSCF5319 Taormina Greek Theatre Photo by Margie Miklas As Taormina’s most famous sight, Teatro Greco dates back to the third century BC. The Greeks, under the reign of Hiero II of Syracuse, carved this architectural masterpiece from the hillside. It was used as a theater with the orchestra at the center and a seating capacity of 5000 spectators. The horseshoe-shaped venue had a diameter of 358 feet, and originally had nine sections with eight rows of seats.

Taormina Greek Theatre Photo by Margie MiklasThen in the second century AD the Romans rebuilt the theater and changed its appearance drastically, adapting it to be used for gladiator bouts and sporting shows using wild animals.  They made major changes to the stage and eliminated the orchestra pit. They dug a trench deep enough to be able to accommodate the fighters and animals. They also built a partial roof, which no longer exists today.

The theater changed again in the tenth century, when the Arabs conquered and destroyed much of Taormina during a very long siege.  Several years later during the medieval ages, the theater was used as a palatial residence. Today Teatro Greco is categorized as some of the best architectural ruins, with several Corinthian columns  still standing.

Taormina Greek Theatre Phot by Margie MiklasAs one of the most popular attractions in Sicily, Teatro Greco is open daily during the months of April through September,  from 9am to 7pm; and from October to March,  from 9am to 4pm. 2016 admission prices are 10€ for adults, 5€ for those ages 18 to 25 coming from the EU, and free for adults 65 and older and children 17 and younger, coming from the EU, Canada, and Australia. (Source: Travel Taormina)

Taormina Greek Theatre Photo by Margie MiklasThe theater still functions as a very active entertainment venue. Every summer Taormina hosts an arts festival,  Taormina Arte, of music and dance events, as well as an annual film festival. Many of the performances occur inside  Teatro Greco, as the acoustics are exceptional, and even today, you can hear a stage whisper in the last rows.

This coming May Duran Duran and Robert Plant are just two of the scheduled concerts. In  past years, Paul Simon, Simple Minds, Carlos Santana, Tony Bennett, and Elton John performed in separate concert events. Ballet and opera are also part of the event calendar at this amazing historic Sicilian venue.

Teatro Greco in Taormina View of Ionian coast Photo by Margie MiklasA visit to the ancient Greek amphitheatre in Taormina is an experience like no other, combining history, culture, architecture, and beauty. I’ve been there twice and I highly recommend it.

Have you been to Taormina? I’d love to hear what your experience was like. Please leave a comment.

Grazie and Ciao

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15 Responses

  1. Jack Erickson

    Wonderful photos Margie, brought back memories of our visit there in ’04, view of Mt. Etna fuming in the distance where we took the circumetna train a few days later.

    One other attraction in Taormina are the English gardens near the historic center. A lord or diplomat fell in love with Taormina back in the 19th century I believe, and brought his gardener there to recreate what he had back in England. A trust maintains it well.

  2. jimtrish

    I’ve never been but would love to go. It seems the further south in Italy I go, the more I fall in love. Thanks for the taste of Taormina.

  3. alex

    Hi, I am heading to Taormina for 5 days in a fortnight and found your comments really helpful and made me very excited for our trip!! Thanks for sharing and any other hints for trips and good places would be much appreciated. Alex

I'm always interested in your thoughts, so please leave a comment.