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Larissa Hosts Landscape Architecture Competition for Amphitheater

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The ancient amphitheater of Larissa, from the third century BC, has now been restored and a competition is underway to recreate the landscape surrounding it so that it shine once again. Credit: Δημήτρης Πλαστήρας /CC BY-SA 4.0

The city of Larissa is asking the world for ideas on new surroundings for its ancient amphitheater, which was built in the third century BC and recently uncovered after languishing, buried beneath residential buildings, for centuries.

An international design competition searching for the best ideas to develop the area around its marble theatre, “Theatre A,” will be open until November 19, 2021.

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Larissa is offering a prize of €30,000 for the submission that it judges will make the magnificent amphitheatre into what it hopes will be “a point of reference and identity” for the modern city, which is the fourth largest in all of Greece.

Following the massive excavation project which brought the stones of the amphitheater to life once more, the city would like to make the theater serve once again as the showplace of the city.

They say that this will entail a complete revisualization of the space around the theater, to encompass an area of 42 hectares, or 4,520,842 square feet.

Larissa aims high in its attempt to reestablish the theater to all its ancient glory. As the largest theater constructed in the Thessaly region in ancient times, the 10,000-seat facility was built on the slopes of Larissa’s military citadel, called the “Frourio.”

Larissa officials hope that a complete restoration of the monument in the center of town will bring the world to the city once again.

Ancient Amphitheater of Larissa Once Held 10,000 Spectators

On September 20, 2014 Larissa triumphantly reopened the theater after 2,500 years of inactivity.

In honor of the archaeologist Athanasios Tziafalias, choral works from “Electra” by Euripides were presented under the directorship of Kostas Tsianos, in collaboration with the Lyceum Club of Greek Women of Larissa and the choir of the Municipal Conservatory.

The performance coincided with Diazoma’s Seventh General Assembly of the Movement for the Ancient Theaters.

Believed to have been constructed in the third century BC, the ancient theater of Larissa served a dual purpose, hosting not only theatrical performances but assemblies of the local governing body, the so-called “Koinon of the Thessalians,” as well.

Following the Roman conquest of Greece, it was converted into an arena.

Until recently, the greater part of the theater lay under private homes. Owing to the work of Larissa archaeologists, its elegant marble seating and rich decoration was finally completely uncovered in 2014.

Participation in the new competition is open to individual architects or multidisciplinary teams consisting of at least one architect. Due to the complexity and size of the amphitheater site, the city encourages architects to team up with specialists in the areas of landscape architecture, urban design and planning, archaeology, history and sociology.

The competition, which is endorsed by the International Union of Architects (UIA), will be conducted according to UNESCO requirements as well.

The international jury includes the chair Renato Rizzi from Italy, Aristidis Sapounakis from Greece, Deniz Incedayi from Turkey, UIA representative Christian Sumi from Switzerland, Rainer Mahlamäki from Finland and deputy UIA representative Jacek Lenart from Poland.

In total, €63,000 in prize money has been set aside by the city of Larissa for the competition. A total of €30,000 will go to the winner, with a second prize of €15,000, third prize will be worth €10,000, fourth will be €5,000 and third will be €3,000.

City officials will announce the winners of the competition in March of 2022.

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