Amphiareion in Athens

Situated on the hills, 6 km from the port village of Oropos in the northeastern region of Attica, the archaeological site of Amphiareion is one of the least known places of Athens - and one of the most fascinating ones.

The sanctuary of Amphiareion dates from the late 5th century BC and was dedicated to the hero Amphiaraos. Amphiaraos was supposedly not born but emerged from a spring nearby the location of the sanctuary, and was renowned in antiquity as he partook in the expedition of the Argonauts. Besides his heroic deeds and protected by the grace of Zeus, the heroic Amphiaraos was known for being gifted in dream interpretation and after his death, he had been declared a Chthonius deity (meaning one of the underworlds) and was extensively worshiped, with temples dedicated in his honor in numerous locations.

The sanctuary of Amphiareion is located at the channel of Charadra, lying between the regions of Attica and Boeotia. The area is close to the ancient port of Delphinion, quite crowded and busy during antiquity much like the nearby one of Oropos, reportedly one of the oldest Greek cities.

The archaeological site of Amphiareion included a variety of edifices; the sanctuary, where pilgrims went to ask for oracular responses and seek healing; the ancient theatre, where visitors would attain the religious and cultural events; a temple of unusual Doric style dedicated to various deities, (such as Zeus, Aphrodite, heros and their wives, nymphs as well as certain ones with healing powers such as Hygeia, Panacea and Apollo); a stadium, the location of which nowadays remains unknown; the renowned baths; the statues and dedication steles, many in honor of Roman rulers and benefactors; a well-preserved to this day clepsydra, treasured for its time-calculating properties.

The sanctuary of Amphiareion had an outstanding reputation as a place of worship, and was frequently visited by major figures and regular citizens from the Greek territory, Asia Minor and Italy alike. The annual festivals, known as the Great Amphiareian Games, were rather popular and included contests in athletic games, horse races and music.

The worship of Amphiaraos gradually declined due to the expansion of Christianity in the Greek dominion and the sanctuary begun to lose its former glory. From 1884 to 1929, systematic excavation operations conducted by the Archaeological Society brought to light the beauty and silenced secrets of the sacred site, while nowadays it is open to the public and offers a unique opportunity to get acquainted with the magic of the ancient Greek world.

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