Teatro Olimpico (Olympic Theatre)

Largo Volfango Goethe, 3

36100 Vicenza




+39 0444-222800




+39 0444-222804



The Olympic Theatre is Andrea Palladio’s final masterpiece. It was commissioned in February 1580 by the Accademia Olimpica (Olympic Academy, a society of mixed social classes with cultural and scientific purposes founded in Vicenza in 1555), of which Palladio himself was a member. Construction began in May 1580, but Palladio did not see its completion because of his sudden death, on August 19th of the same year. The Olimpico, after various and complex vicissitudes, was completed five years later and inaugurated on March 3rd, 1585 with the memorable staging of Sophocles' Oedipus the King.

The access to the Theatre is through the Odèo and Antiodèo, two large rooms designed by Vincenzo Scamozzi. They are respectively decorated with frescoes of deities and allegorical figures (circa 1637) painted by Francesco Maffei and with a monochrome frieze of considerable documentary interest (circa 1595), depicting the theatrical productions organized by the Accademia before the construction of the Olimpico (Amor costante, Sofonisba) and those held in the new theatre (Oedipus the King, embassy of Japanese ambassadors).

Within an enclosed space that simulates the outdoor setting of classical theatres, Palladio placed a monumental stage front flanked by two wings (versurae in Latin) and a semi-elliptical seating area of thirteen steps that ends on top with a row of columns, partly open and partly with niches within the wall. In the tabernacles and on the plinths of the architectural structure are the statues of the Academicians who commissioned the Theatre, dressed in Roman style clothing. In the highest tier is a series of beautiful bas-reliefs depicting stories of Hercules, by Roger Bascapè. Beside the three openings on the stage front is the original wooden stage scenery that represents in perspective the streets of Thebes, built by Scamozzi for the inaugural performance of Oedipus the King, scenery that became permanent and unchanged over time.

Opening hours of the Olympic Theatre from September to July:

Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:00 to 17:00 (last admission 16:30).

Opening hours of the Olympic Theatre from July to September:

Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 18:00 (last admission 17:30).

The Olympic Theatre is closed on Mondays, on December 25th and January 1st.