Mastora, L. Manola, M. Nikolaidis, A.

Department of  Tourism Management, University of West Attica, Greece




This paper aims to investigate how ancient drama which flourished in Greek antiquity still represents a portal of touristic attraction and development. Ancient Greek tragedians (Aeschylos, Sofocles, Euripides) as well as Aristophanes’ comedies magnetize and attract tourists and students from Europe and the whole world.

In addition, touristic destinations where tragedy flourished (Athens, Epidaurus, Olympia, Delphi, Delos, etc) have a huge number of views from tourists. This paper suggests how touristic policies and measures can be more effective through promotion of Ancient Greek tragedy. The paper also suggests ideas and certain solutions that overpass the realistic problems of such a touristic and cultural perspective.

Keywords: ancient tragedy, publicity, touristic destinations




Ancient tragedy born in Ancient Greece consists a very important cultural European heritage.[1] From many tragedies written by the great tragic poets it is only pieces of Aeschylos, Sofocles, Euripides that were saved in their totality. Greek tragedy led to Greek comedy and, together these genres formed the foundation upon which all modern theater is based[2]. Greek drama is broadly accepted that culture and especially antiquity has played a most important role in tourism policy development in Greece from early on in comparison with other countries. Ancient architecture combined with cultural events has been one of the major elements of tourism policy.  According to Mitchell & M (2012), art and especially modern aspects art such as cinema can  be a way of boosting tourism flows in a country.

The combination of ancient theatre performances with archeological areas is one of the most appropriate applications of this approach.[3] Martha & Kotsaki have supported the view that  culture and especially antiquity have played a key role in tourism policy development in Greece from early on and in comparison with other countries. Ancient architecture when combined with cultural events and festivals is a very good way of promoting Greece as  tourism destination[4].

It is also today that are taking place actions of ancient drama (dances and songs), ancient orchesis from ancient tragedies of great tragics in big cities[5]. Through these events it is easily understood that the municipalities are reinforced and that the cities are shown to Greek and foreign tourists as having various parts and aspects of themselves.[6] Athens with its rich cultural heritage can inspire its citizens and visitors. Also all over Greece, we can admire ancient Greek drama performances, not so many of them though, and without systematic character towards tourist attraction.[7]

Αccording to Loukia Martha and Amalia Kotsaki, (2014) in their article ‘’Ancient Greek Drama and its Architecture as a means to reinforce tourism in Greece’’ the undeniable cultural interest of the ancient theatre should be combined with a collective approach aiming in the maximization of the tourist product. {....}. Ancient theatres today, after the necessary excavations can host important performances and constitute a network in Greece. The proposed network would have to include archaeological sites with ancient theatres as well as other touristic attractions such as contemporary cultural centres, areas with outstanding natural beauty, thematic museums and religious destinations. Many of our theatres are being restored and some are used in the summer for performances.

    Touristic industry is aiming to direct tourists knowing how they organize their trips according to legends and myths. The scope is to give ancient Greek drama a larger presence so to better promote touristic theatrical activities and to contribute to the building of theatrical sensibility among the people, by offering them entertainment of a multi-cultural nature and high aesthetic standards. Ancient Greek drama constitutes the basis of the contemporary European drama and an element of the world cultural heritage, has direct relevance to today’s world.[8]

Ancient theatres are not limited but also comprise the Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus, spectator capacity of 2000, whilst ancient drama performances also take place at the ancient theatres of Elis near ancient Olympia, Τhassos with spectator capacity of 2000, Philippi in Macedonia and Dodona in Epirus, one of the largest and well preserved theatres with spectator capacity 18.000[9]. In August 2013, the recently renovated theatre of ancient Μessene in the Peloponnese was added to the list. Some of the most renowned Ancient Greek Theatres, among a list of 125 catalogued theatres, strewn all around Greece are the following:

Theatre of Dionysus built around 500 BC on the south slope of Acropolis the Theatre of Dionysus is the first theatre to have been constructed in the world and the oldest one in Greece. Odeon of Herodes Atticus hosts one of the most important cultural events in Greece, the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, hosting a great number of theatrical plays, ancient Greek tragedies and comedies and Concerts. Originally built in 161 AC, it is called Odeon as it was at first used mainly for music events[10]. Epidaurus Ancient Theatre designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BC, it seats up to 15000 spectators and it is renowned for its stupendous acoustics whilst Delphi Theatre built with local Parnassus’ limestone, Delphi Theatre seats around 5000 spectators and it is found above the Temple of Apollo. According to Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic Oracle and it was considered as the navel (center) of the world- the “Omphalos” of the earth! But last but not least, the oldest place which can be called a theatre is situated in Knossos[11].

Many of the Greek theatres are being restored and some are used during summer period for performances. However, there are important perspectives of tourists attraction for all over the year which is fruitful for local societies.

However, there are important perspectives of tourists attraction for all over the year which is fruitful for local societies.[12]



The study is based on the review of the international literature. In addition, the conclusions came out with qualitative data analysis (qualitative method of analysis). More specifically, the researchers visited the Castle of Mytilene and interviewed Greek and foreign tourists (with random sampling) for two consecutive summers 2017 and 2018.

In August 2017 they interviewed tourists attending "Backhes" by Euripides and in August 2018, tourists attending "Electra" by Sophocles. Among the researchers’ questions were: 

1. How did they learn about the performance?

2. If it would be helpful to attend the performance with subtitles?

3. If the ancient drama attracted them to visit the area (the Mytilene castle)?

4. What are their proposals for further touristic development?

5. What are the opportunities and the challenges?

The conclusions were: 1. The main source of information was Internet.

2. The foreigners replied that the subtitles would help them, however most of them had already read ancient drama before.

3. Both Greeks and foreigners replied that ancient drama had a positive effect on their decision to visit the place and motivated their interest.

4. Opportunities and challenges as well as their proposals are presented below according to the reasearch (Manola, M., Mastora,I. 2017, 2018).



For this end, there should be certain tourist policy instruments through:

-The development of cultural tourism,

- the selection of new tourist destinations exploiting new financial and developmental tools,

- the implementation of new investments of cultural tourism in favour of financed and developmental tools:

  • Incorporation to European resources of financing in favour of modernization of cultural centres and theatres in order to be compatible to ancient drama performances.
  • Expansion of tourist product with supermodern tourist infrastructure, like modern convention centres and theatres with relevant hotel substructure, cultural areas, tuned up to natural and cultural municipal environment.
  • The exploitation of worldwide brand name archaeological places hosting ancient theatres (Epidaurus, Delphi, Ancient Elis next to Olympia, Philippi Macedonia e.g.) so as the whole area can be enlarged to be a global touristic and cultural destination
  • Researchers and students attraction towards universities in order to develop research and study of ancient tragedy (theatrical and classical studies).
  • The ancient tragedy application as means of therapeutic practice (psychology and psychotherapy) according to Aristotle catharsis.
  • The organization of conventions and seminars with main theme the ancient tragedy in remote areas of Greece.
  • Enactment of more contests and festivals. A good example of this could be the International Festival of Greek Ancient Drama. [13].(it is noted that the 22nd   organization of the International Festival of Greek Ancient Drama was included in the commemoration of the European year of Cultural Heritage of 2018).
  • The reinforcement of voluntarism so as to enable festivals and events to be best organized.
  • Τhe advance booking of tickets in an international basis.

Ismagilova et al. (2014) claim that “Thanks to tourist expenses additional money comes to a city economy. Growing number of tourists in region undoubtedly cause increase in production of a tourist products, creation of the active consumer market in the tourist center and growth of investment appeal of the local tourist industry”. Touristic industry has always been aiming to direct touristic view knowing how tourists think of organizing their trips based on symbolic prospects.



In our effort to select local festivals and events with main subject of action ancient drama in order to attract tourists we confront several challenges:

-Τimely programming of hiring seasonal personnel in order to avoid problems in archaeological sites, Museums, ancient theatres.

-Supply of specialized human resources.

-The expansion of the audience in local and foreign spectators by subtitling the performances in Greek and English.

-Τhe coordination of  civil and public sectors even in a pilot basis so as to promote cultural promotion of the periphery.

-The necessary peripherical unification of roads and traffic organization along with the system organization of parking areas.

-TV, radio and advertisement  publicity of certain events of ancient drama. Moreover according to Croy & Heitmann (2011) many countries so far have used TV or cinema productions as a means of boosting their tourist flows. Winter (2002) points out that such campaigns have been proved to be very successful with famous films such as Tomb Raider and and actually scientific studies have confirmed increases in tourism flows to locations featured in movies and TV productions (Riley et al.1998). According to Mitchell & Stewart (2012) Australia is an interesting case study because of Crocodile Dundee movies a fact that had a positive effect also in touristic flows of New Zealand. So even neighboring countries many get benefits from such ways of boosting tourism.

-Guarantee of quality, diversity of programs, and numerous raise of theatre productions.



 Ancient tragedy born in Ancient Greece has always been considered the most important cultural heritage of all Europe. In this paper it was shown the major issue of tourist attraction through ancient drama. Also according to modern scientific literature Touristic policy is based on publicity, sensitization of people worldwide, on common policy in municipalities and communities, on reinforcement good practice of cooperation.

In order to achieve that goal certain difficulties and obstacles have to be surpassed mainly emphasizing on able schedules, programming.and quick peripheral and local organization.




Bakonicola-Georgopoulou X. (2004) ‘’Moments of Greek tragedy‘’. Athens, ed.Kardamitsas

Markezinis, B. (2013) ‘’Heritage of ancient Greek tragedy in European culture‘’. ed I.Sideris, p.573

Tsartas, P. Lytras, P. et al (2017) ‘’Tourism, touristic development, Greek scientists contribution .Papazisis Publlications, Athens set: Library of Touristic Science.



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Cartwright, M. (2013) ‘’Greek tragedy: Definition. Ancient History’’ Encyclopedia available online Accessed 3 February 2104.

Croy, G.  &  Heitmann, S. (2011) ‘’Tourism and Film. In: Research Themes for Tourism‘’ (eds P. R

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De Romilly, J. ( 2001 ) ‘’Time in ancient greek drama‘’ To Asty Publications, Athens.

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Ismagilova, G.N. Safiullin, L.N. Bagautdinova, N.G. (2014) ‘’Tourism development in the region based on historical heritage‘’. Life Science Journal 2014;11(6s).

Lazou, A, (2004) ‘'Orchesis: texts on ancient greek dance‘’ Athens,  Ways of Life Publications.  

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[1] Markezinis, B. (2013), ‘’Heritage of ancient Greek tragedy in European culture’’, ed Sideris, p.573

[2] Ancient History Encyclopedia, Greek tragedy

[3] Loukia, M.,Kotsaki, A. (2014) ’Ancient greek Drama and its Architecture as a means to reinforce tourism in Greece’’, Elsevier ltd, abstract


[4] Loukia. M ,Kotsaki A. (2014)’’Ancient greek Drama and its Architecture as a means to reinforce tourism in Greece’’, Elsevier ltd.

[5] According to the Society of development and touristic promotion of the municipality of Athens in the paedestrian zone of Dion.Areopagitou str, the visitors of Athens along with the Athenian citizens, could watch a short representation of Vakxes of Euripides, and Antigone of Sophocles. 20 students of the theatrical crew of the Drama School’’Athenian Stage’’, wearing theatrical dresses, wigs and masks.


[6] Broulias, G. EATA ,

[7] It is really important to see the effort of periphery in attracting tourist through ancient tragedy promotion. An example of this is the presentation from the theatrical stand where Oedipus killed his father Laios, and after then met his fate at the face of Sphinx. (initiative of the Cultural Society ‘’The martyr Distomo and 218 slaughtered people’’). According to Sophocles, Oedipus killed Laios near Distomo area, in Tristraton, what states that these historical places can be combined with reminiscence of dead people, as dues to their offer to society.


[8] Ancient History Encyclopedia, Greek tragedy http;//


[9] Loukia. M ,Kotsaki A. (2014)’’Ancient greek Drama and its Architecture as a means to reinforce tourism in Greece’’, Elsevier ltd, abstract.


[12] ‘’There is prolongation of touristic period in Greece, problems of the past are confronted in the best way and tourism in Greece was augmented by 40% since 2015. If there is stabiblity in the country, Greece in 2019 can host tourists all the year,’’ states Helen Kountoura, in National Exhibition of Tourism in Berlin