Great theater is one of the most impressive monument in Ephesus City. Building locates on the western slope of the Panayir Mountain and used to overlook the harbour via Harbour Street. This great monument was built in the Hellenistic Period, in the 3. century BC during the reign of Lysimachos, one of the generals of Alexander the Great. It was used to celebrate festivals, organize musical and theater events with city meetings.
Grand theater was rebuilt several times in different periods of Greek and Roman eras. Final construction, to expand and form theatre its current structure that is seen today, started during the reign of the Emperor Cladius (41 – 54 A.D) and was completed during the reign of the Emperor Trajan (98 – 117 A.D).
Theater had 25 000 people capacity, known as the largest theater of Anatolia. It had sixty six rows of marble seats, divided by two walkways between seats. Upper section seats were for audiences and there was arched entrances. Lower seats with backs were used by important people of city and also imperial seat locates on the lower section. The stage building was three-storied and 18 meters high, Its facade facing the audience was well decorated with reliefs, columns with niches, windows and statues.
Great Theater was used for concerts, plays, religious – political – philosophical discussions and for gladiator and animal fights. This theatre is mentioned in Acts 19:29-41 and known as the place where Apostle Paul preached Ephesians.
After Ephesus City was destroyed earthquakes and abundant theatre’s marbles were carried away to be used in other constructions. Grand Theater is still used nowadays for concerts in summer. World famous performers including Elton John have performed in this Theater.