Gortys, the Odeon

The Vouleuterion of Gortys was converted into an Odeon in the 1st century AD. The Odeon was used for musical events, plays and recitals. This is the most important ancient Odeon in Crete and one of the best of its type. It consists of three parts like the theatre, but it had a roof.

Gortys odeon

In the Odeon we can see:

  • the koilon (auditorium) (1), where the audience sat. The carved stone stepped seats of Gortys are still preserved, evidence of the city’s economic and cultural prosperity.
  • the orchestra (2), a semicircular area paved with white and blue marble.
  • the scene or stage (3), the raised rectangular area opposite the koilon with three entrances and square niches for statues. Behind the scene was the backstage area with a mosaic floor, a space later used for burials.

The Great Theater of Gortys

In addition to the Odeon, there was a theater in Gortys. The excavation of the Great Theater of Gortys in Crete, dating back to the Roman period, began in July 2011. The theater, located opposite the Odeon on the southeastern slope of Profitis Elias Hill near the Lithaios River, was mentioned by European travelers since the 16th century. However, prior to excavation, it was hidden under soil, stones and vegetation.

The 2011-2012 excavations uncovered much of the seating area, the orchestra, and part of the front of the stage. This revealed a different layout from that described by earlier travelers. Many decorated architectural elements, pottery and marble sculptures were found, providing insights into the architecture of the Roman Cretan theater and the history of the region. Future excavations at the site are expected to yield more valuable information.

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