Gradinate dell'Odeon

Remains of a peripteral temple have come to light, partially incorporated into the foundations of the Church of St Catherine, in the south-western corner of what is now Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. The Ionic decoration of the geison (ridge beam frame) in marble would fix its chronology to the middle of the 3rd century BC.


There are no elements to identify the deity worshipped. The location so close to the agora/phorus suggests, however, that it was a sacred building of some importance: financial accounts document the cults of Zeus and Dionysus, who must have had a sanctuary in the city, as well as Apollo certainly. In the late 1st century A.D. or early 2nd century A.D., the temple was flanked, on the south side, by a odeon (covered theatre). The roofing system remains unclear.
Partially brought to light in 1892-1893, the cavea is made of brick. It contains eleven orders of seats divided by three ladders into four wedges. The eighth order from the orchestra upwards is used as a passage. In fact, the entrances or vomitoria opened onto it, two of which still exist. The vaulted corridor that runs along the rear side of the building, with which the passageways or vomitorium is in communication, is to be considered a rear addition. Portions of the brick facade of the pulpitum, or stage with semicircular niche remains.


The wooden part of the stage behind it rested on the steps of the 3rd century BC temple, while its colonnade probably served as a backdrop. Together with that of Catania, the Odeon of Taormina is the only documented example of a covered theatre in Sicily. It was intended for performances, more precisely concerts, musical competitions, as well as conferences and public readings, but it may also have been used for political meetings. These were less attractive to the public than the theatre.

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