The Roman theater in the southern Spanish city of Málaga is thought to have been built early in the first century A.D. during the reign of Augustus. The theater represents classic Roman design and is suggestive of the theater prototype advanced by Vitruvius, with tiered seating, an orchestra, and a grand entrance. More than half of the audience seating has survived, as well as a marble slab floor in the entranceway, and a marble grate used to drain rainwater from the tiered seating section. The pulputum, or stage, is still in good condition, containing some of the original paintwork. The supports for the wooden platform where plays were probably performed are still intact. The theater was discovered in the mid-twentieth century, when work on the Casa de la Cultura, an archive and cultural center, was underway. Plans were proposed to expand the archaeological zone and conduct excavations to try to recover more of the theater. Controversy ensued, as this would have caused the destruction of adjacent buildings including the Casa de la Cultura. Eventually the Regional Government of Andalusia undertook excavations at the site, and in 1994, the Casa de la Cultura was demolished, and the extraordinary Roman theater was revealed to be largely preserved despite centuries of burial beneath an ever changing and expanding city. The site was also used as a quarry during Muslim rule of Málaga, as is the case with so many Roman sites, the Roman theater served the construction needs of later inhabitants. Nonetheless, the Roman theater in Málaga was found to be in remarkable condition, revealing much of the beauty and ingenuity of the original construction.
How We Helped
In 1999, World Monuments Fund, Fundacion Unicaja, and Autopista del Sol signed an agreement with the Spanish Ministry of Culture to finance new projects to protect the newly excavated areas and conserve the theater. Grants from the Grand Circle Corporation allowed restoration efforts to be completed at the southern entrance to the theater, which had been used for years as the main entryway and was thus badly eroded. (After 1984 the entrance was deemed dangerous due to falling debris and closed to the public.) The work carried out through this project corrected structural weaknesses and allowed greater public access to the theater.
Why It Matters
The Roman theater in Málaga has existed for nearly two millennia and is an important reminder of the Roman history of the region. Due to its prominence and significance it has been and continues to be a popular destination for local and international visitors.