The Odeon of Philippopolis (Plovdiv, Bulgaria)





THE ANCIENT FORUM, the civic centre of Philippopolis, covers an area of 20 000 sq. m in the heart of the ancient city. It developed in accordance with the history of the city from the 1st to the 5th century AD. Organized around an open-air square, it was surrounded by porticoes and rows of shops along the eastern, southern and western sides. Its northern side was occupied by public buildings connected with the civic administration, and with the cultural and religious life of the ancient city.

The ODEON of Philippopoiis was found in 1988 during excavations in the northern part of the Forum by the archaeologists Z. Karov and M. Martinova. In 1993 archaeological investigations were suspended due to lack of funds. In 1995 the Forum complex was declared a cultural monument of national importance. The Odeon, as a major part of the Forum, has the same status and lies within the boundaries of an area under strict safeguard and protection. A programme for the conservation, restoration and exposition of the site was approved in 1999. In 1997 the Odeon of Philippopolis (today’s town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria), together with the Odeon at Thessalonica (Greece) and the theatre at Taormina (Italy), were included in the Raphael European programme funded by the Council of Europe, and excavations were renewed.
In 2001 -2002, with the financial contribution of the A. G. Leventis Foundation, the archaeological excavation of the building was completed with a view to its restoration and future incorporation in the life and structure of the contemporary city.

The Odeon is situated in the northeastern corner of the ancient Forum and comprises all elements of an ancient theatre building enclosed in a square space and covered with a roof. The rectangular frame integrates it in the orthogonal street system of the ancient city, and it represents a dominant feature in the forum complex. The best preserved remains are those of the latest arrangement of the Odeon, dated to the mid-3rd century and connected with the reconstruction of the building after it had been burnt down as a result of the Gothic invasions in 251 AD. The П-shaped galleries along the edges surround a central area including the cavea, the orchestra and the skene. The cavea encircles the orchestra and on its western side there was a narrow raised stage (skene). The cavea and the skene are separated by two aisles (parodoi) leading from the galleries into the orchestra. From the structure of the cavea radial walls were found supporting beehive-shaped vaults upon which the rows of seats were placed. The arrangement of the stage building (skene) and the architecture of the facade of the cavea (scaenae frons) have been clarified: it is a two-storey structure in a Roman-Corinthian order. The facade was built in opus mixtum. The abundance of metal clamps and joints indicates that the building was covered with a wooden roof structure, supported by impressively large trusses.

The project provides valuable exposition space with protective covering of the authentic structures, exposing ttieir multiple layer structure and the long span of life of the ancient building. Also included are the whole southern gallery, part of the eastern gallery together with the spaces between the radial walls, the stage channel and part of the northern gallery and rooms. A small museum exhibition and an information centre for the archaeological complex can also be established. Access to the exhibition halls lies through the western portico through the two small entrances of the stage wall. Thus the western portico and the open-air space will be integrated in the modern implementation of the archaeological site. At this stage of reconstruction the Odeon will be accessible from the north, from Gurko Str., but the project preserves the possibility of reconstructing the original ways of access -from the ambulatio on the south, and from the cardo maximus to the east.

The idea of the authors of the project is to create a new, interesting urban area, defined by the remains of the restored archaeological site, as a focus of cultural life in the existing heterogeneous urban environment. Cultural events and spontaneous happenings in city life in a democratic society will define the functional character of the Odeon in retrospect to its initial image.

Archaelogist:
Maia Martinova-Kyutova Restorers: Arch, Vera Kolarova
Arch. Roumiana Proykova Dipl. Eng. Peyo Manov



Fuente – Source

The Odeon of Philippopolis (Plovdiv, Bulgaria)

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