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Odeon of Herodes Atticus

By Mónica Rodríguez |

Allow the muses to hypnotize you with their chant at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens.


Among the marvels a trip to Athens offers, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus is certainly one of the best. Located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis, this is one of the most surprising attractions at this destination and, today, DINKtravelers takes you to visit it.


Erected in the year II A.D. the Odeon was named after Herodes Atticus, a Greek rhetorician from Athens who worked for the Roman Empire. He was mentor of important men such as Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus and, apart from being one of the wisest men of his time, he was known for his patronage of public works. In that sense, he sponsored several constructions such as the Odeon Theater, which he built in memory of his wife who had recently passed away, and whose love he immortalized in a monument that survives until present day.


The theater you’ll visit was actually the third Odeon that was built in ancient Greece. The place was used solely for music events like singing competitions and poetry recitals. In ancient times, it had marble covered walls, the floor was decorated with mosaics, it had a wooden roof, and it could seat up to 5,000 spectators. Regrettably, around 267 A.D. it was destroyed by the Herules, an East Germanic tribe that invaded the Roman Empire. Opposite to what happened to many constructions that were destroyed in barbarian invasions, the Odeon was not rebuilt in later years and it was practically abandoned. It was until the 19th century when archaeological works began and they restored the site. Nowadays you’ll only see the remains of this semi-circular construction. The stands have no seats and both the roof and walls are gone, but this situation will be a chance to use your imagination to picture how magnificent it originally was. Its current austerity doesn’t make it less beautiful or awe-inspiring; on the contrary, when you’re there you’ll feel intimidated before such grandness.


Although we’re not certain about the kind of people who were allowed in events that were organized at the Odeon, the number of spectators it could house makes us think that they were not necessarily exclusive events but that, on the contrary, they were meant for vast audiences.

Presently, following the tradition of its original use, the Oden of Herodes Atticus is still a venue where Greeks host events –mostly music concerts– due to its great acoustics. Still, even if these events make us feel closer to ancient Greece, for matters of conservation, the Odeon only opens to the public when there’s a concert, and not on a daily basis. Therefore, you’ll only be able to visit the exterior of the Odeon unless you buy tickets for a concert they might have programmed on the day of your tour.


One of the most important events they host at the Odeon is the Athens Cultural Festival. Although the activities for this event take place at several different venues, the Odeon is particularly important because it allows you to visit the interior of this majestic site while giving you the chance to feel like an authentic Greek that’s blown away by the chants of the muses. The festival is held yearly during summer, an excellent season to enjoy the splendor of the city. Concert ticket prices vary from 10 to 50 euros, and you can check the programming on the festival’s official website.


Even if you don’t visit the interior of the Odeon, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy it. Thanks to its location on the foot of the Acropolis and next to the Theater of Dionysus, the Odeon is part of the archaeological site of the Acropolis, so you’ll get the chance to see it on the way up the hill. The view will leave you speechless. Standing there, embraced by the warm Athenian sun, you’ll be able to imagine the muses on the Odeon’s stage. You’ll see Euterpe composing a beautiful melody with her flute or Terpsicore, dancing gracefully around the stage.

Your visit to the Acropolis will be enriched if you hire a tourist guide who can offer you a tour that combines mythological and archaeological content. Naturally, you should hire an expert who can talk about the diverse monuments you’ll find in the area, including the Erectheion with its caryatids, the Parthenon, the Theater of Dionysus, the Temple of Athena Nike,  and the Agora.


The Odeon, like the rest of the Acropolis’ monuments, are under the protection of the Ministry of Culture in Greece, so if you require information about the site and its surroundings, find timelines and glossaries, visit the ministry’s official website.

Add this destination to your next trip to Athens and witness the magnificence of a culture that left unparalleled prints of their grandness that remain standing in the present.