Journey through Ancient Greece



Epídavros, set in a quiet wooded valley in the Argolis, was famous in the Greek world and beyond as a sanctuary of the healing god Asklepios, son of Apollo.
The sanctuary was much endowed by wealthy visitors and hosted a drama festival every four years in the theatre which was considered the most beautiful in the world. It is today the best preserved Greek theatre and is a quite simply breathtaking sight. Constructed in the 3rd century BC in a pure and classical style, it originally seated 6,000 people in 34 rows; in the 2nd century 24 rows were added to seat a further 6,000. As usual there are moulded seats at the front for the VIPs. The entrances, skene and proskene are preserved.
The acoustics are remarkable: climb to the top of the 54 tiers of seats and you will hear the rustle of paper or a coin dropped by someone standing in the centre of the circular orchestra below, (the only intact surviving one)
Be prepared to do your party piece!

Games held at the sanctuary were almost on a level with those at Olympia and Delphi. The architecture and sculpture were extremely rich, but with a slight heaviness that marks the end of the Classical period. Of the late 5th century BC temple of Asklepios itself, and of the elaborate tholos or rotunda built in the 4th C, only the foundations and some fragments remain. (Although it is currently being restored).

The site has been heavily cannibalised especially in the Byzantine period - fragments have been found built into churches in the area. The ancient roads that connected the sanctuary with the city can still be traced. The ruins themselves, apart from the theatre, are confusing.

The small museum is very interesting. The reconstructions give a clear impression of the former beauty and richness of the buildings. There is also an excellent example of a Corinthian capital.

Mainly Peloponnese Itinerary

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Neriad from the temple of Asklepios (in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens)