The construction of the open-air theatre was proposed by French urban planner Henri Prost (1874–1959), who developed a project for Istanbul in the 1930s. Designed by Turkish architects Nihad Yücel and Nahid Uysal, the groundbreaking took place in July 1946, in the office time of Lütfi Kırdar (1887–1961), governor and mayor of Istanbul.
The amphitheatre was opened on August 9, 1947 with a ceremony. However, it took its final form after German stage director Carl Ebert (1887–1980), then head of Ankara State Conservatory, made modifications in the architectural design of the stage area. Remedy of all the deficiencies completed in the 1950s only. The construction cost ₺900,000 at the end.
The theatre was inaugurated with a play of Sophocles, the Athenian tragedy Oedipus the King, performed by actors of the Ankara State Theatre.
In 1958, the venue was named after Cemil Topuzlu (1866–1958), mayor of Istanbul in the era of Ottoman Second Constitutional Monarchy.