04 NOVEMBER 2013 / Completion of the study for the restoration of the ancient theater of Sparta, supported by SNF

Today, the grantee DIAZOMA held a presentation of the study it carried out for the restoration of the ancient theater of Sparta, which was completed through a grant by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. In keeping with the anticipated timeframe, and after a year of intensive research and scientific documentation, DIAZOMA has completed the relevant study and submitted it to the Ministry of Culture’s Central Archaeological Council (CAC), which approved it with honors, on October 15th 2013, opening the way for the restoration of the ancient theater of Sparta and the revival of its original function as a place of gathering and a venue for cultural events.

The ancient theater of Sparta dates back to the 2nd century BC and was one of the largest theaters in Greece, which the ancient Greek historian and traveler Pausanias describes as “the theater, of white stone, worthy of a goddess”. Despite the fact that the ancient theater of Sparta was severely damaged by invasions by foreign tribes during antiquity, and by the bad workmanship it was subjected to during the 19th century, it remains, to this day, a priceless historical and archaeological monument. 

The study carried out by DIAZOMA, with the help of architectural engineer Goulielmos Orestidis and with support from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, is a comprehensive presentation of the current condition of the monument, as well as of its unique architectural and structural features, and also includes a detailed proposal for the methodology and works required for the monument’s restoration, preservation and reconstruction. It is also worth noting that, through the process of documentation, new and unknown information emerged on the original form of the ancient theater of Sparta, such as for example the existence of a third tier. 

The main purpose of the interventions proposed by the study is the protection of this important monument, the promotion of its historical and cultural value, its structural restoration, and the restoration of the theater’s original geometry, in order to give contemporary visitors a better understanding of the monument’s original form and function. 

The successful completion of the study was ensured by a broad interdisciplinary team, which included a civil engineer, architects, surveyors, an archaeologist, and antiquities specialists. 

The President of the Board of Directors of DIAZOMA, Stavros Benos, remarked: “We are here today to rectify a historical gap, a historical injustice: the care due to an important ancient city whose unique culture still impacts the global community to this day. Today, we are offering it our own “antidoron” [holy bread]: The Stavros Niarchos Foundation and DIAZOMA have jointly undertaken the lovely adventure of restoring a unique monument, the ancient theater of Sparta. It would be a huge omission if I failed to mention the important and decisive contribution of former Minister Mr. Ioannis Varvitsiotis in this project. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is, to all of us at DIAZOMA, one of our most important partners in the effort to form a great social alliance aimed at saving our country’s ancient theaters”. 

George Agouridis, a member ofthe Board of Directors of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, said: “We are proud supporters of the important work carried out by DIAZOMA, in their effort to promote and protect the country’s cultural heritage. In that context, the Foundation would like to express its great pleasure on the successful completion of the study for the restoration of the ancient theater of Sparta, and its approval by the CAC, which allows us to dream that this unique monument will be brought back to life”. 

Following the study’s approval by the CAC, DIAZOMA is striving to secure European funding for the theater’s restoration, mainly through a program aimed at creating a single cultural route in the region of the Peloponnese, held together by its ancient theaters.