The ancient theatre in Perge, which is believed to date back to the second century and had a capacity of 13,000 people, will undergo restoration for the first time in its history.
Located in the ancient city of Perge, which was the capital of many civilizations especially in the Pamphylia era, the ancient amphitheatre in the southern province of Antalya’s Aksu district is as magnificent as the theatres in Ephesus and Aspendos.
The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry General Directorate of Cultural Heritage and Museums provided 3 million Turkish Liras for the restoration project to be carried out by the Antalya Directorate of Surveying and Monuments.
Antalya Director of Surveying and Monuments Cemil Karabayram said the ancient theatre had not been restored so far, adding that excavations started in the 1980s under the leadership of Professor Jale İnan and continued until 1990s. He said lots of old sculptures and historic artifacts had been unearthed in the theatre since then and were being displayed at the Antalya Archaeology Museum.
Karabayram said 2018 was declared “Perge’s year” in Antalya and the idea for its restoration came up during visits by the Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmuş to the ancient city. “With the initiative of the Surveying and Monuments director Yalçın Kurt, the problem of allocation for the restoration project has been solved,” he added.
Karabayram said work had begun on the restoration project.
“This is a very important development because the ancient Perge theatre has never been considered for restoration. All original materials of the structure still remain. It will be restored with its original materials. The Perge theatre was closed to tourism for some time due to security reasons. As a result of works, some fields were taken under protection with safety lines and the rest was open to visitors. Tourists can visit the theatre at the moment,” he said.
The director said once the project was done, operations would start by the end of the year.
“The ancient Perge theatre will regain its magnificence at the end of this restoration. Also, an academic committee is being formed for the project and the application,” he added.
The ancient theatre is made up of three main sections, the cavea (seating sections), the orchestra and the stage. The area for the cavea and orchestra is a bit wider than a half circle. It is known that gladiator and wild animal fights were organized in the orchestra pit.
The lower part of the theatre has 19 tiers and the upper part has 23 tiers for seats. The orchestra pit surrounded with rails shows us that gladiator shows were organized there. Relievos featuring the life of Dionysos, the goddess of wine, are seen on the stage, which has five doors that lead to the backstage.
Even though most of these relievos were damaged when the stage collapsed, the parts depicting the life of Dionysos have survived until today.