Roman Theatre

Archaeological sites
Centro histórico

Cadiz’s Roman Theatre was built in around 70 B.C., when Lucius Cornelius Balbus  "the Elder", born in Cadiz and personal friend of and adviser to Julius Caesar, decided together with his nephew, Balbus “the Younger”, to expand the urban perimeter of Gades and to build the Neapolis or new city. In this new neighbourhood, an amphitheatre and a theatre were built and the latter was discovered under today’s El Pópulo district in 1980.
The building was abandoned at the end of the III A.D. and was plundered from the following century onwards.  However, from the Middle Ages onwards, the remains of its powerful structure were used as storerooms, stables and houses. It was also used as the foundations for the Moorish fort, referred to in sources at that time as the “Castle of the Theatre”, subsequently reconstructed by Alfonso X “the Wise” after he conquered  the city.
The digs have unearthed part of the theatre, which can be considered the oldest and one of the largest on the Iberian Peninsula. Its structure has very archaic features, with a horseshoe auditorium and parabolic tiered seating. A large distribution gallery, covered by circular barrel vaulting, ran under them. The auditorium is built on a slope and to construct a gallery, they had to cut into natural rock, while the outside wall was built on perfectly made ashlars and with the openings linking to the tiered seating.
The most monumental area of the complex, the stage and the portico behind it, have not been unearthed and their ruins remain hidden under the El Pópulo neighbourhood.
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