Roman Theatre of Cartagena
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Roman Theatre Cruise excursion
For your next visit to Cartagena we invite you to discover The magnificent historical legacy of our city
The discovery of the Roman Theatre in Cartagena was one of the most important archaeological events of the city and the whole region. Discovered completely by chance, today is the star spot to visit if you are just for a few hours in the city of Cartagena.
You might have travelled all over Europe, and even visited some other Roman theatres as part of a shore excursion during your cruise around the Mediterranean. This is not another museum, it will completely impress you.
The unbelievable part of the story is that in 1990 the first remains started to be uncovered and it was a major find, as there was no previous evidence of its existence. From its location, the theatre had witnessed different periods of the history of Cartagena, being covered for 2,000 years, with overlapping constructions of each of the historical periods built on top of each other.
The works of archaeological recovery of the Roman theater acquired a scheduled pace, thanks to the collaboration agreement signed between the Autonomous Community, the City of Cartagena and Cajamurcia founding in 1996.
In the period between 1996 and 2003 time is completed the almost complete excavation of the entire theater, and can be perceived in all its grandeur and splendor.
The situation of theater in one of the highest hills of the city facilitated the construction of the cavea, which appears in its central part excavated in the rock of the mountain, while the lateral flanks are supported by vaulted galleries.
The cavea with a capacity for 7,000 spectators, is divided into three horizontal sectors again divided by five radial stairways in the ima, and seven in the media and summa cavea. The main entrances were made public through two side aisles (aditus) for which two separate entrance doors lintels with dedications to Lucio Caesar, east, and probably Caio Caesar were located on the west. Both dedications, together with the consul mention designatus in the cursus of Caio one of the altars found in the pit of hyposcaenium has allowed realize the date of construction or opening of the building between 5 and 1 a. C.
Cartagena has a number of Roman ruins but certainly one of the finest is the Theatre which was constructed between 5 and 1 BC. In the 3rd century AD a market was built over the site of the theatre, and evidence of the reuse of materials can be seen in the semicircular open space which followed the plan of the orchestra. Significant damaged was done in 425 AD when the town was sacked by the Vandals resulting in the abandonment of the market square although a market quarter was established on the site in the 6th century.
At the front is the stage (proscaenium) 43.6m in length and set at a height of 14.6m. Also to be seen is the semicircular orchestra used for seating the important people and the columns of marble and travertine. While altars dedicated to the Capitoline Triad of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva were also found during the excavations.
Behind the stage building was a portico gallery revolving around a central room which housed a garden. The design of the building can be seen by models which are displayed in the museum as can a number of the finds unearthed during the excavation work.
The restoration of the Roman Theater in Cartagena has undergone a process of reflection aimed at defining first function and end use of the monument, then depending on its use should consider the pattern to follow from the point of view of restoration. Given the most recent in terms of recovery of theatrical spaces of antiquity and the challenge posed by the restoration of our building at the beginning of the XXI century history, it has prevailed in this reflection recovery of the theater, within a comprehensive project, as a visitable monument is returned to society for contemplation and enjoyment in itself, and as a transmitter of the hallmarks of Roman Cartagena.
The museum’s exhibition galleries are located in a second building that respects the scale of the city, but its textured stone facade, punctuated by relatively few windows, is clearly a 21st-century building. The restoration of the Roman theater itself, the result of the difficult and delicate strategy of adding new to old, does not compromise the old—with additions that are capable of being reversed, if need be. Throughout, visitors can move easily and honestly between past and present. This trajectory (or promenade) created by Moneo, extending from the city’s sea level to the higher ground of the museum culminating in the Roman theater, reflects the architect’s recurring position on the nature of a museum. Architecturally, his buildings and public spaces unfold as one walks through the city. Within the museum, the connection from one building to another via underground corridor reinforces the notion of journey and discovery.
Nowadays, the project made by the prestigious architect Rafael Moneo incorporates the archaeological site, with its Museum and the remains of the Old Cathedral. The main entrance is situated right at the beginning of the Main Street, and just a few meters from the Cruise Terminal in Cartagena.
The Roman Theatre in Cartagena was awarded in 2010 with the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards.
It remained hidden and alien to our society until in 1988, while performing works for a craft center in the Old Cathedral, they came across this magnificent theater. A few years later they began to adapt it so that, from the middle of the decade of the 2000’s, it could be contemplated as we see it today.