The biggest and the most spectacular structure of Ephesus. It was also the most important meeting place in the social and cultural life of the city. The theater is a large semi-circular structure leaning against the hill. The audience was facing the stage and then the harbor in the background. The diameter of the theater is 145m. and the height is 30m. It is mainly made up of marble. It has a seating capacity of 24,000 people.
The original theater was built during the Hellenistic ages. Then it was enlarged in size during Emperor Cladius (41-54 A.D.) and completed during Emperor Traian (98-117 A.D.). Initially one story, a small stage section was modified and made much bigger during the Roman ages. The stage was a three-story elegant part of the theater. There were 8 rooms and a corridor on each floor. The ground floor had an entrance to the podium and a hidden access corridor to the orchestra placed under the ground.
Ephesus grand theatre’s first two floors of the stage were built by Roman Emperor Neron (54-68 A.D.). The third floor was added to the theater during the 2nd century. The final form of the stage had not been modified since then. The stage is a 25 x 40m. elegant building decorated with columns and statues of gods, goddesses, and emperors on the outside. There were a number of gates into the theater. The center one was the biggest one. The outer side of the stage building was the most decorated one.
There was an altar (sacrifice place) in the middle of the stage podium. This altar was used to offer sacrifices to Dionysus and make ceremonies. The audience used to access the theater from the marble road through the stairs without interfering with the stage building.
Players used to perform at the same place as orchestra members during the Hellenistic ages. This has changed during the Roman Age and they started to perform at the extended place in front of the orchestra. The plays would start in the early morning and continue until midnight most of the time. The audience was charged an entrance fee. The theater was also used as a meeting place for ordinary citizens to discuss important matters involving the city. During the Roman Age it also became a venue for gladiator fights.