The Theatre, designed to stage lyrical and dramatic productions, was cut out of the hillside overlooking the temple of Apollo during the sixth century BC, probably to replace an earlier wooden theatre.
It was restored in 159 BC by Eumenes II, king of Pergamon, and again during the Roman period. It was accessed through the eastern door of the temenos of the sanctuary.
© Photo credits by Alun Salt under CC-BY-2.0
The terraces were able to accommodate up to 5000 spectators on occasion of the Pythian Games.
The orchestra, with a paved floor featuring a drainage channel, and the cavea are particularly well preserved. The cavea has thirty five tiers of seats divided horizontally into two orders, the lower one with seven sectors and the upper one with six. Only the foundations of the two-storey stage have survived.
The building had two projecting wings and its front was decorated with a frieze of the Labours of Hercules, now housed in the Museum.
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