The Odeon of Herodes Atticus (or Herodium as wrong has prevailed) is an ancient Roman conservatory, located on the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens.
HISTORY: Built so quickly at the expense of Herodes Atticus in the 2nd century AD in honor of his wife, Aspasia Annia Rigilli, who died in 160 AD. The destination of the edifice was primarily musical events and for this reason was called Odeon. The need for its construction came after the collapse of the conservatory which was built in the center of the ancient agora of Athens from Augusus' general Agrippas, around 15 BC, and that replacing even older Odeon of Pericles, who had set fire Sulla in 85 BC.
The space reserved for the public had 32 rows of marble stands and its capacity was in the order of about 5000 spectators. As in the theaters of the Roman era, the orchestra had a semicircular shape. The stage building was elevated to the depth of the scene and had three floors, two of which survive to this day to a height of 28 meters. The conservatory was roofed with wooden ceiling of cedar wood.
From various indications occured that the Conservatory worked only 105 years, since the 3rd century, ie in 267 AD, when many buildings in Athens, as it, were destroyed by the invasion of the Herulians. Also, this time, from the various findings of the excavations as human skulls and bulls, it is probable that the site was used for gladiatorial contests and bullfights. It seems though that the walls of the building were later used as a fortification, as part of the wall that surrounded the base of the Acropolis hill. Apart from the ruins hutches found inside the Conservatory also are found ruins of a small church. In the middle of the scene, and exactly opposite the so-called "Kingdom Portal", was discovered a basement that extends throughout the length of the area of the scene.
The embankments made in subsequent centuries almost disappeared the odeon, with only visible sign of the high wall of the stage, with the whole structure seen more like bridge.
During the Middle Ages, everyone who visited the ruins of the Odeon was not able to recognize which building it was. Others described it as palace of Leonidas and Miltiades, others as the "Teaching School of Aristotle" while in 1575 a professor from Nafplion, Theodosius Zygomalas considered it as the "Academy of Aristotle". The first who argued that it was the Odeon of Herodes Atticus was the British archaeologist Richard Chandler in 1764, a period during which the interior of the building was strewn with barley.
During Ottoman domination, the remaining building integrated with the Stoa of Eumenes in Hasekis Wall (1778) constituting fortification, known as "Serpetze (Serpece)". Note that, from the arcs of the Conservatory did the French general Favier to enter the Acropolis, in December 1826, when besieged by the Turks, in order to help the beleaguered Greeks.
EXCAVATIONS: The first test excavation was made in 1848 in the presence of King Otto by K. Pittakis and Alexander Rangavis. The evacuation of the Conservatory of the fill piled the ruins of the roof and stood 15 meters tall, started by Pittakis 1857. Eventually the serious restoration began piecemeal after the World War II in the 1950s during the regnency of King Paul with plans of the Directorate of the Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs, which is mostly drafted by the professor and academician Anastasios Orlandos immediately after his retirement from the service, with his assistant then inspector of the restorations Eustace Stikkas.
With the gradual and partial restoration could be revealed throughout this ancient edifice and find its destination. The seats for spectators were invested with Pentelic marble and the orchestra with marble from Hymettus. Since the end of the decade of 50's, the Conservatory is used, mainly during the summer months, and cultural events take place and many Greek and foreign artists have appeared in this area.
This activity has the name "Athens festival" and time to time have appeared therein, artists like Maria Callas, Agnes Baltsa, Gina Bahauer, Sviatoslav Richter, Rudolph Nureyev, Herbert von Karajan, Michael Berischnikov, Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hadjidakis, Dimitris Sgouros, George Themelis, Leonidas Kavacos and many others, as also famous orchestras and ballets. There also are given theater performances, mainly ancient greeks works written by Aeschylos, Euripides, Sofocles and Aristofanes.
(Translated from Wikipedia and last paragraph added by C. Theodorou)