Four years of work to restore and strengthen the ancient theater at Ephesus in İzmir’s Selçuk district are wrapping up, and some parts of the theater will be opened for a special concert by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the 26th International İzmir Festival on Sept. 26.
The 24,000-person capacity theater at Ephesus was the largest theater in the ancient world, with its three-storey stage building. Its construction began at the time of the Emperor Claudius and was completed in 117 A.D. Important measures have been taken to protect the ancient theater, which is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, said the head of the restoration team, architect Esin Tekin.
Further protective measures necessary
During the restoration process, many protective materials were used, Tekin said. The unique construction of the theater has been reinforced, but some further measures should be taken for its protection.
“We strengthened the static structure of the theater and took measures to protect the building and enable it to survive for many years. The ancient theater, which is home to the Ephesus Festival, the İzmir International Festival and many concerts, should be used in order to survive, but people should also be very careful about using it. For example, the number of audience member should be limited to 2,200, sound amplification should not be used, and large stage decorations should not be set up, because the structure is too sensitive. By reorganizing the walking paths inside the theater, we have tried to maintain its historical structure as much as we can, but paths should be reorganized not only in the theater but also throughout the ancient city of Ephesus,” Tekin said.
Restoration work on the theater began four years ago, and will be finished at the end of the month, the head of the ongoing excavations Ephesus, the Austrian Archaeology Institute’s Professor Sabine Ladstötter, said. Many of the hundreds of thousands of tourists being arriving at the ports of Kuşadası and İzmir aboard cruise ships in recent years have wanted to visit the ancient city of Ephesus and the ancient theater there, she said.
Tourist traffic should be directed to different places in order to reduce the impact on the theater, Ladstötter said. “To protect Ephesus’s ancient city and theater and prevent further damage, we should develop a system that increases the number of places to visit in the ancient city. For example, those who want to visit religious places should be directed toward those sites, but not the theater. This is why we should increase the number of such places. Some of the artwork that has been unearthed in the course of the excavations that began 117 years ago is very well preserved, but some of it is in bad condition. They should be taken under protection urgently.”
Theater to host famous orchestra
The Ephesus ancient theater, which has hosted many of the world’s most famous orchestras and artists, such as Sting, Elton John, Joan Baez, Mikis Theodorakis, Ray Charles and Jose Carreras, is now preparing to host the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (Berliner Philharmoniker).
Some parts of the theater will be opened for the special concert, held as part of the 26th International İzmir Festival, with the special permission of Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay.
The orchestra, which is considered to be one of the best orchestras in the world, will play for the festival at the ancient theater on Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. World renowned siblings Efe and Fora Baltacıgil will perform as soloists at the concert.
Source : Hürriyet Daily News