The Asklepieion of Epidaurus: The sanctuary of Asclepius or Asklepieion as it is called, in Epidaurus was a sacred healing place devoted to Asklepius, the healer god, the god who had the power to cure people of their pain and illness. Such sanctuaries were frequent in ancient Greece and in fact, they were quite popular as people from all over the Mediterranean would come to find healing.
Asclepius was believed to be the son of god Apollo and a mortal woman named Arsinoi, the daughter of the king of Messinia. At first, he was mortal but he had so unusual healing powers that people made him a god. It is said that Asklepius had found the cures for all diseases and that people would no longer die. Asklepios had thus disturbed the natural way of life and that is why Zeus killed him with a flash of lighting. An Asklepieion was the temple of Asclepius, where people would go with the hope to be cured.
There were many such sanctuaries scattered along Greece, but the most famous one, visited by people from all over Greece and from other areas of the Mediterranean Sea, was in Epidaurus, where Asklepius was born, according to the myth. To find out the right treatment for them, people spent the night in a sleeping room and the god himself would come to their dreams and tell them what to do in order to be cured. Apart from the sleeping rooms, the sanctuary had a guesthouse with 160 rooms, a stadium and mineral springs.
In order to please the visitors of the temple and pay tributes to the gods, people in 340 B.C. built a theatre, which is nowadays known as the Theatre of Epidaurus and it is considered to be a masterpiece of architecture. Polykleitos the Younger constructed this theatre, which is famous for its great acoustics.
In 87 BC, the sanctuary was looted by the Roman general Sulla and in 67 BC by pirates. Excavations were held there in the 19th century by the Archaeological Institute which revealed the temple of Asclepius and some temples devoted to Artemis and Apollo. The sanctuary and the close by theatre form nowadays a popular archaeological site.
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