The Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus is a major open-air theatre and one of the earliest preserved in Athens. It was used for festivals in honor of the god Dionysus. Greek theaters in antiquity were in many instances of huge proportions but, under ideal conditions of occupancy and weather, the acoustical properties approach perfection by modern test. We know that the theater of Dionysus in Athens could seat 17,000 spectators, and that the theater in Epidaurus can still accommodate 14,000. It is sometimes confused with the later and better-preserved Odeon of Herodes Atticus, located nearby on the southwest slope of the Acropolis. Some believed that Dionysus himself was responsible for its construction.
The South slope of the Acropolis has two theaters, the Odeion of Herodes Atticus and the Theater of Dionysos. The Theater of Dionysos is not as well preserved as the other, but it has more significance. The structure dates back to the fourth century BC but had many other later remodelings. The Athenian tradition of theatrical representations first began at the Theatre of Dionysos. Theater developed into a religious celebration, in honor of the god Dionysos. Theatrical performances were actually competitions. The winners received monuments to display the tripods they had won. The monument that displayed the winners’ tripod would be placed around the theater and along a street that led East; the Street of the Tripods.