Unexpectedly best-preserved of all Roman amphitheatres is located in modern Turkey, in the city of Aspendos. Over long years, this antique open-air theatre has hosted a number of events, and it still amazes with its perfect acoustics—words spoken in the middle of its stone stage easily reach the last benches. International Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival is renowned as the most popular event held in this unique location. It annually draws the leading opera and ballet artists from all over the world, as well as numerous attendees, 70% of whom come from overseas.
The festival was established on a national level in 1994 and acquired international status in 1998. In 2003, the British Independent Newspaper gave it the 5th position among the world's ten most respectable festivals of that kind. One of the reasons for its popularity is the unique location. Aspendos amphitheatre was constructed back in the 2nd century A.D. when the city was under the rule of the Roman Empire. Its creator—a famous Roman architect Zeno—used only top quality calcareous stone. During the reign of Seljuks, the theatre was turned into a palace, and reinforced with bricks. After all, Turkey deserves to be given the proper credit for the excellent conservation of the theatre that remains functional till modern days.
Aspendos is located in Antalya Province, four kilometres north off Serik, and only 38 kilometres from Antalya itself. The tickets may be bought in the booking offices of Antalya, Side, Kemer, or other neighbouring cities. In fact, booking offices seem to change their location every year. Ticket price may include transportation and dinner. However, festival-goers are still encouraged to take some snacks as the performances often start late in the evening. Also, it would be wise to take some raincoats or umbrellas, and cushions to sit on unless you're fine with sitting on the stone.
The festival takes place in summer or early autumn, dates and duration differ. Other year-round shows such as the Fire of Anatolia are held at the Aspendos Arena which is a modern facility constructed around the original amphitheatre in order to preserve the original building. Of course, the authentic ancient theatre experience is incomparable.