Odeon (Bouleuterion)

The Odeon of Philippopolis is situated in the Northeast corner of the Forum (Agora) of the city. The existence of a building with this functional use in the central part of the Ancient city gives grounds to assume the great importance of Philippopolis as a cultural and political centre.

The Odeon is rectangular in plan and as such it perfectly fits in the orthogonal structure of the forum complex. Perhaps the building originally served as bouleuterion (town hall), but later construction periods revealed its principal use as a theater building. According to the archaeological findings the building had four construction periods: from the 1st to the 4th century AD.

The conducted researches and analyses show that the Odeon comprise all the elements typical for the roofed theatres: skene, orchestra and cavea.

The archaeological researches defined the way of formation of stage sector. The skene is quite narrow in size and its length spreads throughout the whole width of the cavea. The proskenion (platform) was 1.50 m higher than the level of the orchestra. The interior façade of the skene was quite high. This assumption is based on the height of the construction that bears the cavea. Additional information gives the two-storeyed skene in the typical for the period Corinthian order system of Roman type. The vertical grooves found in the wall of the skene show that a structure for raising and lowering a curtain probably exists. This fact in turn is typical for a theater building. 

Initially, the plan of the orchestra was in the shape of a horseshoe, which is typical for the Roman provinces. The last construction period, however, reduced the size of the orchestra and it became semicircular. The pavement was made out of large marble slabs. Just at the beginning of the cavea, the pavement is limited by marble orthostates. At its eastern end, the orchestra is limited by a wall, which serves to support at the lowest part the radial walls bearing the seating area of the cavea.

The plan of the cavea is concentric to the orchestra and surrounds it on its East side. The seats for the visitors are arranged in step-like shape for better visibility for all visitors. The cavea lies on a vaulted structure where each vault is in half truncated cone. The construction of the cavea is a typical for the Roman building craftsmanship. Similar, with the same construction system is made the spectators’ area of the Colosseum in Rome. The cavea of the Odeon is separated from the skene with parodoi.

The Odeon of Philippopolis was found in 1988 by the archaeologists Z. Dimitrov and Maya Martinova. The Odeon is listed as a cultural value of national significance being a part of the forum complex in 1995. Thanks to the contribution of Leventis Foundation conservation works have been done in 2002 and the Odeon is open for visitors.

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