The Roman theater of Apamea is considered one of the largest theaters of the ancient world, as it had a capacity of about 25,000 spectators, and was only surpassed in size by the theater of Pompeii in Rome.
This theater was distinguished by the sound propagation technology used in it, so that everything that was going on on the stage could be heard from any side in the theater, which made it a matter of astonishment, admiration and research by contemporary specialists.
The theater is located in the ancient city of Apamea at its western edge at the opposite foot of the Al-Madiq Castle in the Hama countryside. Although it was built in the Roman period, it was designed in the Hellenistic style, as it was made use of during its construction from the bending of the earth to support it.
Today, the theater as a whole is not well preserved. It was used as a square and a quarry for the restoration of the Citadel of Al-Madiq at the time of Nur al-Din Zangi in the 12th century AD. When the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent built a khan in the city in 1531, its stones were removed from the rubble of the theater, and many lime kilns were found that were used for the manufacture of lime. All this contributed to the sabotage and destruction of this edifice during the Middle Ages.
Regarding the construction history of the Apamea Theater, the archaeological researcher, Dr. Bassam Jamous, shows that it dates back to the second century AD, and its plan reminds us of the Aspendos Theater in Antalya, pointing out that there are some walls and foundations dating back to the Hellenistic period and located under the theater amphitheater.
Jamous adds that the theater consists of a facade of 139 meters in width, of which only a few bricks remain, and a small part, about 8 meters high, decorated with square Corinthian capitals and its wood, which is located within the facade and is not clearly defined.
Jamous pointed out that the theater had a semi-circular shape centered with the stands, and connected with them to the corridors and staircases that met at the upper lobby, in addition to a staircase that allowed access to the entrance to the huge southern theater.
As for the theater orchestra, it is a semi-circular arena located at the bottom of the stands. It contains the remains of stone tiles. The stands consist of three layers that were carried on vaults and barrel-shaped arches on them stone seats, some of which are still present. A number of stone stairs that lead to the exits are separated between the rows of seats, in addition to To the ascending and descending stairs.
Excavations and archaeological research began to reveal the Apamea theater, according to Jamous, since the beginning of the sixties of the last century by the Belgian archaeological mission, which began its work on the site for several seasons.
He points out that the excavations showed that most of the remaining parts of the theater were poorly preserved from the steps that were slightly protruding, the podium wall with its decorations and the columns made of stucco, pointing out that the architecture of the Apamea Theater was generally of a simple and moderate style.
And what affected the current state of the theater, as Jamous asserts, that it turned into a fortress in the Middle Ages, where in that period a square tower was built on one of the entrances to its western facade, and another circular tower was built on top of the amphitheater to the west as well, and all the corridors leading to the theater were blocked.
Due to the use of the theater in the later Islamic eras, artifacts dating back to those eras were found, such as pottery.
Regarding the restoration operations that the theater witnessed, Jamous explains that it did not include major works. During the excavations of the Belgian archaeological mission, the main entrance, which is located in the center of the theater, was liberated. The joint American-Syrian archaeological mission during the excavation seasons for the years 2008-2009-20210 cleaned and liberated the main entrances and corridors. And some terraces of rubble and stones scattered from the top of the foot and the removal of stone blocks that used to block the paths.
Jamous talks about a major project to restore the theater, which the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums started in 2009 in cooperation with American experts, which includes an engineering elevation and a topographic survey of the building in order to revive this important archaeological edifice, but the war on Syria and the prolonged attacks on the Apamea site and its theater by terrorist organizations prevented this from being accomplished. The project.