Though this ancient open-air theater resembles a mini-Colosseum, it was built nearly 100 years earlier during the final years of the Roman Republic. Named by the Emperor Augustus in 11 BC after his deceased nephew Marcus Claudius Marcellus, the theater may be the oldest surviving of its kind in the world.
Visit the outdoor Teatro di Marcello to view its archways and tiers, arranged in a semicircle. Its third tier was lost in Medieval reconstruction, but you can see ornamental Doric and Ionic columns on the lower tiers. The theater once held up to 20,000 spectators and was one of the largest entertainment venues in the ancient city.
Like many ancient Roman ruins, the Teatro di Marcello is best appreciated on a guided archaeological tour. Join a small-group walking, Segway, or e-bike tour of Rome’s most important ancient sites, most of which include skip-the-line entrance to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Circus Maximus along with a visit to the outdoor Teatro di Marcello. A visit to the theater can easily be combined with a food tour of the nearby Jewish Ghetto. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Most of Rome’s archaeological sites are open-air, so wear a hat, sunscreen, and comfortable shoes on an ancient Rome tour.
- A visit to the theater is especially fascinating for Roman history enthusiasts.
- Due to the uneven and unpaved grounds, the outdoor site is not accessible to wheelchair users.
- The theater is no longer used as a venue, but small concerts are held on grounds with the structure as a backdrop.
The theater can be found on Via del Teatro di Marcello near the banks of the Tiber River and east of Rome’s Jewish Ghetto through the Portico d’Ottavia. The nearest metro stop is Colosseo. When to Get There
The archaeological site is largely open-air, so visit when the weather is clear and not too hot. In summer, arrive first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the midday sun. The Colosseum: Big Brother to the Teatro di Marcello
Teatro di Marcello was built almost a century before the Colosseum, and there are differences. Where Teatro di Marcello was semicircular, the Colosseum's amphitheater forms a complete circle. The Colosseum held more than double the spectators, had an additional tier, and had a complex stage and underground technical area. The smaller Teatro di Marcello did offer a view of Tiber Island and pioneered the use of fired bricks in Roman construction.