The discovery of the Roman Theatre of Cartagena is one of the most important events in the archaeology of the city. It was a fortuitous event as there were no written references or archaeological data that could prove its existence.
The passing of time meant that this same space was used for various purposes and served as a site for different buildings. In the 5th century it was transformed into a commercial complex, on top of which a Byzantine-era commercial quarter was later built, and on top of which there are structures from the Islamic period of the 11th and 12th centuries. After the Castilian conquest, it became one of the most populous quarters of the city, where the old Church of Santa María (Old Cathedral) was built.
The Roman Theatre of Cartagena is located on the Cerro de la Concepción, the highest of the five hills that make up the topography of the city. This location, which was very common at the time, facilitated the construction of the stands by taking advantage of the rock of the hill itself. Its northern orientation protected it from the south winds and gave it excellent acoustics.
The study of the various elements found allows us to date its construction to the end of the 1st century BC, coinciding with the period of the colony's greatest urban development.
The grandstand or cavea, divided into three horizontal sectors, had a capacity of approximately 6,000 spectators. The stage front enclosed the grandstand and was divided into two floors decorated with columns. The chromatic variety of the materials it was made of (white marble, reddish marble, yellowish sandstone blocks covered with stucco) and the rich ornamental programme gave it great beauty.
Today, the project by the architect Rafael Moneo incorporates this monument into an integral project that includes the Museum of the Roman Theatre (Riquelme Palace), the church of Santa María la Vieja and the Roman Theatre, as the last and most notable piece of the building.
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You can enjoy the panoramic view of the Roman Theatre from the Parque Cornisa and from the San Patricio Battery in the Parque Torres on the Concepción Hill, open to the public:
Winter from 08:00 to 20:00h.
Summer 08:00 to 22:00h
We recommend visiting the Roman Theatre and its museum at the following times:
1st May to 30th September:
Tuesday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
1st October to 30th April:
Tuesday to Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.