Epidaurus History

The history of Epidaurus is strongly associated with the healing god Asklepios. According to ancient Greek mythology, Epidaurus was the birthplace of Asklepios, the healing god, and son of Apollo. In fact, Epidaurus is home to the most popular healing center of antiquity. During the 4th and the 3rd century BC, this building was enlarged and partly reconstructed by the Romans. Famous as an important healing center, the Asklepieion of Epidaurus used to gather sick people from all over Greece. As the sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas was no large enough to room all these people, the sanctuary of Asklepios was created.

The physicians of the Asklepieion were wise and careful, as reflected in the numerous records displayed in Greek museums. They relate the famous 70 miracles of Asklepios and other well-organized medical procedures to treat a variety of diseases in a natural way. In the sanctuary, there was also a temple, dormitories, and baths to help patients recover from various diseases. Those who had skin disorders got the most benefit from those bath-based treatments, and they could also benefit from the gym.

Although most diseased people came to Epidaurus to get a miraculous cure, they usually had to stay and undergo some treatment. They also used to take natural baths, to have a rest before going back to their place of origin, to thank god Asklepios with offerings and participate in games that would take place every 4 years. These games would take place in the stadium of Epidaurus and the theatrical performances in the Ancient Theatre were part of religious festivities.

Unfortunately, two major earthquakes, in 551 and 522 AD, caused many damages in the sanctuary and gradually it was entirely destroyed by wars, attacks and natural disasters. In the late 19th century, archaeologists excavated the sanctuary of Asklepios and the Ancient Theatre, famous for its remarkable acoustics which allows voices to be heard from the scene until the last row. The ancient theatre of Epidaurus has a capacity of about 14,000 spectators.

After the antiquity, the region of Epidaurus fell in decline. In the Middle Ages, a Medieval Castle was constructed in Nea Epidaurus village to protect the region from enemies. Only in the early 19th century, Epidaurus obtained an important political meaning when the first Greek revolutionary government was set there and established the first Greek constitution (1822). Today Epidaurus is a very popular archaeological site and ancient dramas are still played in the Ancient Theatre during summer festivals.

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