Athens Asclepieion

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Location: Acropolis

Located on the South Slope of the Acropolis, the Temple of Asclepius in Athens was built in 420 BC, during the Peloponnesian War, perhaps as a direct result of the plague that broke out at that time. Dedicated to Asclepius, the god of medicine, and his daughter Hygieia (Health), it lies west of the Theater of Dionysus and east of the Pelasgic wall, between the peripatos, the ancient pathway that girded the Acropolis, and the Sacred Rock.

The chronicle of its establishment is carved on the Telemachos Monument, a tall, double-sided marble column topped by reliefs illustrating the moment when Asclepius arrived in Athens from Epidaurus and was received by Telemachos Acharneas, the Athenian citizen who founded the sanctuary.

The complex comprises a temple and an altar, as well as two galleries. The first one was the so-called Doric stoa, where the patients spent the night, waiting for the god to appear in the dreams and reveal the cure. According to the inscriptions found, the Doric gallery was two-storied and its facade numbered 17 pillars, framed by the Sacred Spring at the eastern end and by the Sacred Bothros on the western edge. The Sacred Spring gushed inside a small cave on the rock, and its existence was a prerequisite for the construction of the Asclepieion, as the water was considered to have both purifying and healing properties and was an integral part of that deity’s cult. The Sacred Bothros, on the other hand, was a deep pit with polygonal masonry built into the cliff face and accessed from the second floor. It was here that the Heroa, the sacrifices to the Chthonic gods and heroes, were performed by pouring drink offerings into the hole.

The other gallery was the Ioanian stoa, where the priests and their visitors dined and lodged, and it consisted of four rooms and a facade with Ionian pillars. During the Roman times, a third gallery was added to accommodate the increasing numbers of worshipers who came here to be healed. On its west side, the sanctuary was enclosed by a propylon, a monumental outer gateway that facilitated visitors’ access from the ancient promenade.

Archaeological research at the site has brought to light several votive offerings, many of which portray body parts thought to have been healed by the god. These can be seen at the Acropolis Museum.

In the early 6th century AD, when Christian worship replaced that of the ancient gods, all the buildings of the Asclepieion were incorporated within the complex of a big basilica, while during the 1000s-1200s, two small single-aisled temples took the place of the basilica to serve the needs of a small monastery. Nevertheless, the Doric facade’s western edge, the Sacred Bothros and the main temple have now been partly restored.

How to get there

There are many ways to reach the Asclepieion from any location in Athens.

Private transfers: We recommend using an online pre-booked transfer service, which provides transfer by taxi, minibus, or private VIP car and arranging a pickup directly from the port, airport, or your hotel. Alternatively, there’s the option of arranging a pickup by a local driver directly at the following numbers: (0030) 18288, (0030) 18222, (0030) 18180. You can also book your taxi online.

On foot: As the Asclepieion is located in a central area of Athens, it can be easily reached on foot from Syntagma Square in approximately 20 minutes.

By metro: The closest metro station is Akropoli (Red Line). Note that the Asclepieion is located within a 10-minute walking distance from the metro. Get a map of the metro here.

By bus/trolleybus: The closest bus stop is "Monastiraki". Check the routes and the official timetables on OASA Telematics.



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