Epidaurus was a major city in Ancient Greece, famed as a centre for healing. It is renowned for having the best preserved ancient theatre in Greece.
Inhabited since prehistoric times, Epidaurus thrived as a sanctuary devoted to the healing deities including Apollo, Asklepios and Hygeia and contained hundreds of spas, the remains of many of which can be seen today.
The main sanctuary area, called the Asklepieion, contains two such spas where a variety of healing rituals took place, including hypnosis. There is also a shrine to Asklepios and the remains of rooms for patients. Asklepios was the god of healing, believed to have been born on the nearby Mount Titthion.
Probably the most impressive of the sites at Epidaurus is the 4th century BC theatre, which was built to accommodate approximately 15,000 people and is still extremely well preserved.
Whilst most of the sites at Epidaurus were constructed in the 4h and 5th centuries BC, when the city was at its peak, some of them date back as far as the Mycenaean period and others were also adapted later by the Romans. The theatre is one example of such refurbishments.
Epidaurus experienced difficulty in the late 4th and early 5th centuries AD. In 395, the site was sacked by the Goths. Almost 30 years later the site was ordered to close by the Emperor Theodosius II, due to it being a pagan sanctuary.
Epidaurus was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. It is one of the most popular tourist sites in Greece, outside of Athens. A particular attraction is the theatre. Not only is it the best preserved ancient theatre in Greece, but by visiting (and speaking) at this theatre, you can really get a sense of the remarkable acoustics this structure allowed.
When visiting, a fun thing to do is to test the ancient theatre’s acoustics first hand. Sit yourself on the theatre’s highest row of seats and marvel at how clearly you can hear conversations happening down on the ancient stage.
Overall, Epidaurus is an absolutely vast, fascinating site set over three levels and offering an insight into Ancient Greek life. There is also a nearby Epidaurus Museum, exhibiting artefacts from its excavation.
Getting to Epidaurus
Epidaurus is situated on the Argolid Peninsula, roughly 2 hours drive from Athens.
Day tours to the site are also available, particularly from the cities of Athens, Corinth and Nafplion.
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