Merida Classical Theatre Festival
Mérida is a beautiful town in the heart of Extremadura. During the height of the Roman Empire 'Emerita', as it was known, was the capital of Lusitania (the occupied areas of Spain & Portugal) with its position on the Guadiana proving advantageous for trade and movement of Roman goods. Today, a great deal of the town's important Roman roots are on display as Merida has some of the best preserved Roman ruins in Spain.
The Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida is a UNESCO protected site and is formed of a Roman amphitheatre, theatre and circus which are part of a single complex, as well as other numerous ruins around the town including a Trajan Arc, the Temple of Diana and the well-maintained Roman bridge which, until being recently pedestrianised, was used by both pedestrians and traffic, a true testament to the strength of Roman engineering.
To celebrate their Roman heritage and still use the ruins for their original purpose, each year Mérida stages a classical theatre festival in the roman theatre which dates back to the first century. From June to August each year there are a host of performances of classic plays, the majority of which are of Greco-Latin origin, and a number of music performances and even film screenings form part of the programme. Since its inauguration in 1933, the festival has been popular across the globe thanks to the quality of the programmed performances and for the wonderful venue.
Extremadura can get very hot in summer months with midday temperatures sometimes exceeding 40°C so performances begin late at night (usually around 10.30pm) creating an even more mystical atmosphere.
2019 Theatre Programme
27th to 30th June 2019: Samson and Delilah
3rd to 7th July 2019: Old friend Cicero
10th to 14th July 2019: Pericles, Prince of Tyre
16th to 17th 2019: Dionysus
19th to 21st July 2019: Antigone
24th to 28th July 2019: Prometheus
31st July to 4th August & 7th to 11th August 2019: Metamorphoses
14th to 18th August 2019: The Pharaoh’s Court
21st to 25th August 2019: Titus Andronicus
Find the full programme and buy tickets on the festival website by clicking here.
For those wishing to visit Mérida for the theatre festival, or who simply wish to enjoy the Roman history on offer, there is a Parador located close to the Trajan Arc and Roman ridge that provides its very own little slice of history. The Parador de Merida is housed in an 18th century convent close to the town's train station. Rooms are decorated in a classic style that complements the historic architecture with some offering views onto the garden. The interior courtyard with its ancient well and pretty patio is one of the highlights and backs onto the hotel's bar. To cool off from the hot Extremadura sun you can take a dip in the Parador's seasonal outdoor pool and enjoy a drink on the terrace overlooking the gardens. The Parador's restaurant offers a selection of local specialities as well as international dishes.