For centuries the only visible part of the theatre was the aforementioned “Seven Chairs”. It wasn’t until 1910 when archaeologist José Ramón Mélida began excavating the site. A lack of resources and of a proper methodology delayed the reconstruction efforts until the late twentieth century.
Finally, in 1933 the theatre was fully excavated and restored and re-opened for the first time and has played host to the Festival de Mérida (Festival of Classical Theatre of Mérida) since then. The Mérida Classical Theatre Festival is the oldest of its kind celebrated in Spain.
The theatre, in its time, had a seating capacity of 6,000, distributed in a semi-circle, facing the stage. The stands are 86 meters (282 feet) in diameter, divided into three areas: the innermost or ima cavea, (22 rows), the media cavea (5 rows), and summa cavea which have severely deteriorated.
The stage stood upon a platform or pulpitum and used to be covered with wood. The stone structure has holes drilled out of it that used to be used to place scenic backdrop posts and other atrezzo.
The most spectacular feature of the theatre, however, is the downstage setting or porticus post scaenam (frons frons). The structure is 63m long, 17.5 meters tall and 7.5 meters wide. It was constructed with a base of red marble upon which stand Corinthian columns with blue-veined marble as the shafts with white bases and capitals. These columns hold up a richly decorated cornice. Closing the backstage is a large marble wall that used to be decorated with different sculptures of the goddess Ceres, Pluto, and Proserpina amongst others. Thes statues are now kept at the nearby National Museum of Roman Art.
They are the goddess Ceres, Pluto, Proserpina, and other characters with togas and armor that have been interpreted as imperial portraits. Three doors