The ruined theatre under the Acropolis where the works of Euripides and other classical playwrights were first performed some 2,500 years ago will undergo partial restoration over the next six years, Greek officials said.
The €6m program is set for completion by 2015 and will include extensive modern additions to the surviving stone seats of the Theatre of Dionysus.
Standing on the southern slopes of the Acropolis hill, the theatre was first used in the late 6th century BC. It saw the opening performances of tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, as well as Aristophanes's comedies.
"The Theatre of Dionysus … is of immense historic significance, as it is here that the masterpieces of ancient drama were first performed," said architect Constantinos Boletis, the project leader.
A small section of the theatre's stone seating – which could hold up to 15,000 spectators – still survives. Restorers will gradually add several tiers, using a combination of new stone and recovered ancient fragments, while strengthening retaining walls and other parts of the building.
"The programme will have a major impact on the overall aspect of the monument," Boletis told a press conference.
The Dionysus project will be funded by a grant from regional authorities in Athens along with the Diazoma nonprofit foundation for the protection of the estimated 140 ancient theatres and concert halls that survive throughout Greece.
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Guardian: 2,500-year-old Greek theatre under the Acropolis to be restored
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