Spain’s highest court has upheld the decision in a 17-year-old case that requires the removal of a controversial 1993 restoration of a Roman theater in the coastal city of Sagunto. The ruling establishes the outer limits of that country’s flexible approach to historic preservation.
The theater was built during the first century A.D. on a hillside that overlooks the modern town. During the renovations, which were commissioned by the regional government of Valencia, Italian architect Giorgio Grassi and local architect Manuel Portaceli covered the worn local stone of the cavaea, or theater seating, in a shell of marble. They also rebuilt the scanea, or stage house, based on archeological conjectures about its original form, incorporating fragments of its moldings and columns into the brick fabric.