Are you planning to vacation in Greece this year? Because if you are, there are now twenty-five new things to visit--and if you aren't, why now? Because I have twenty-five new reasons to! The Athens Festival institution, in collaboration with the Diazoma association, have taken the initiative of opening 25 ancient Greek theatres and archaeological sites to the public in order to promote the country’s cultural heritage. Most are ancient Hellenic theatres which are scheduled to open over the next few days in order to host various theatrical productions during the summer.

25 ancient theatres, archaeological sites to open soon in Greece
The ancient theatre of Dodoni [Credit: WikiCommons]
As part of the initiative, the Archaeological News Network reports that the twenty-five ancient Greek theatres and archaeological sites participating, will host a theatrical production of 'The Woman of Zakynthos' ('I Gynaika tis Zakynthou') by Dionysios Solomos, directed by Dimos Avdeliodis and with Olia Lazaridou in the leading role.

Dionysios Solomos (Διονύσιος Σολωμός), 8 April 1798 – 9 February 1857, was a Greek poet from Zakynthos. He is best known for writing the 'Hymn to Liberty' (Ὕμνος εἰς τὴν Ἐλευθερίαν, Ýmnos eis tīn Eleutherían), of which the first two stanzas, set to music by Nikolaos Mantzaros, became the Greek national anthem in 1865.

Between 1826 and 1829, Solomos worked on the prose-like poem 'I Gynaika tis Zakynthos', a work of a satirical character, that mainly analyses the Evil. The poem is a monk's (Dionysios) narration and 'I Gynaika'--'The Woman' is the Evil's main expression. It is said that this composition was about one of Solomos' relatives and that is the reason why the poet's brother refrained Solomos' publisher from publishing the poem. The play is based on this very poem.

Even though the organizers wanted the initiative to include 30 locations, the Central Archaeological Council of Greece (KAS) deemed that five of these locations could not be used due to renovations or excavations that were underway. The original list, and the dates of the performances, is as follows; in brackets are the excluded theatres:

 (21/6 - Eretria theatre)
24/6 - BOZAR - Brussels
26/6 - Telesterion of Eleusis
(28/6 - Aigeira theatre)
30/6 - Archaelogical site of Delphi
2/7 - Orchomenos theatre - Boeotia
4/7 - Orchomenos theatre - Arcadia
7/7 - Messene Odeon
10/7 - Patras Odeon
11/7 - Oeniades theatre
14/7 - Macynia theatre
16/7 - Nikopolis Odeon
18/7 - Archaelogical site of Gitana
20/7 - Little theatre of Kassope
22/7 - Dodona theatre
24/7 - Rhodes Stadium
26/7 - Kos Odeon
29/7 - Thessaloniki Odeon
31/7 - Larissa theatre
(2/8 - Demetrias theatre)
(4/8 - Phthiotidai Thebai theatre)
6/8 - Maronia theatre
8/8 - Amphipolis theatre
(10/8 - Mieza theatre)
11/8 - Vergina Tombs
12/8 - Dion Odeon
16/8 - Castrominas theatre - Chios
19/8 - Mitilini theatre
21/8 - Hephaistia theatre - Limnos
25/8 - Gortys Odeon - Crete
27/8 - Aptera theatre – Crete

In some cases KAS will only allow a specific number of people to attend the event, so secure your tickets early. For example, in the theatre of Maronia only 350 people will be able to watch the play. In other sites, such as the theatre of Dimitradas, Athens Festival decided that the play would be performed outside the building, as an alternative solution. Stavros Benos, president of Diazoma said that the implementation of the initiative is "...a great victory. Up until now, ancient theatres remained closed unless renovation work was carried out.”