Epidaurus: a must

Epidaurus was the main place dedicated to the worship of the god Asclepius (Ασκληπιός), god of medicine, where everyone in antiquity came to relax and heal. Why not you ?

The Sanctuary of the god Asclepius at Epidaurus (Eπίδαυρος) is, without a doubt, one of the best preserved places of ancient Greek history. The site consists of three complexes: the ruins of the sanctuary, the amphitheater and the archaeological museum.

The Sanctuary of Asclepius

At the sanctuary, you will discover the magnificent sacred temple of Asclepius where pilgrims came from all over the Mediterranean basin to pray to the god of medicine to free them from their ailments. You can also see the buildings intended to accommodate pilgrims. They were fed, lodged and cared for there by the priests of Epidaurus. There was also a stadium almost as large as that of Olympia which demonstrates the interest of the Greeks in sport as a spiritual and bodily achievement.

Also, the “medical stelae”, which you can see everywhere on the site and in the museum, will impress you. These stelae tell the story of the various pilgrims who came to seek treatment at Asclepius and the way in which they were cured by this God. It is a curious mixture of science, sacredness and magic, because in Epidaurus it is where “the soul acts”.

You can also discover remains from Roman times, such as the baths, which prove that the sanctuary was also a major cultural, spiritual and scientific center under the Empire.

The amphitheater of Epidaurus

Away from the sanctuary is the famous amphitheater of Epidaurus, which is considered the best preserved of all the classical period. This amphitheater, dating from the 3rd century BC, could accommodate up to 12,000 people and was built to celebrate Asclepias, a series of festivities throughout ancient Greece, but particularly in Epidaurus. It was actually a huge singing competition to the glory and honor of Asclepius.

Thus, the amphitheater had to have perfect acoustics to ensure that the 12,000 spectators could hear the ode to Asclepius. The result was so perfect that even today the actors who interpret the plays performed in Epidaurus do not use microphones.

The Archaeological Museum

Between the sanctuary and the amphitheater you will find the Archaeological Museum. This place contains a whole collection of works of art, medical stelae, reconstructions and statues that have been discovered on the site. There is, in particular, the large statue of Asclepius holding a stick which must certainly be familiar to you, a stick surrounded by a snake, it is the symbol of medicine which pays homage to Asclepius, the doctor who became a god.

Thus, Epidaurus was a central place of the ancient Greek world in the same way as Delphi, Olympia or Ephesus. Its central geographical position even encouraged the first national assembly of the Greek republic to settle, in 1822, in the village of New Epidaurus, close to the sanctuary allowing the return to the sacredness, to the pride of being Greek and to the roots. antiquities of the first republic.

We share with you again the program of the Athens Epidaurus Festival for the month of August, there is no more excuse not to go there!

Epidaurus: a must-see place just two hours from Athens