Situated off the Saronic Gulf in a small valley in the Peloponnese, the ancient city of Epidavros is known to have been the birthplace of Asclepius the healer, son of the god Apollo. Epidavros hosted the most renowned healing center in Classical Greece, called the Asclepion, of course. Famed for its healing power, the sanctuary of Asclepius, which housed and treated the ill, prospered throughout the years. Local government was then able to perform the reconstruction of large buildings and monuments, as well as the construction of the famous Epidavros theater.
Amazingly, the symmetrical theater of Epidavros is used to this day for musical and theatrical performances. It is said to have been designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BC and was expanded under Roman rule to fit up some 14,000 people. Surrounded by trees and admired for its astonishing acoustics, this theater is not only an artistic masterpiece, but also a work of science and mathematics.
A testament to ancient Greek life, culture, and the healing gods Apollo and Hygeia, it’s no wonder why the area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Notable monuments in Epidavros include, aside from the theater, the Tholos, the Sanctuary of Apollo, and the Temple of Asclepius. The Sanctuary of Asclepius includes a number of structures such as the ancient stadium, which hosted games every four years, a gymnasium, patient quarters, and natural spring baths.
The Archeological Museum of Epidavros, opened in 1909, features artifacts unearthed on the ancient site and surrounding area. Here, you will find columns, marble statues, temple reconstructions, and more. A two-hour drive from Athens and just a half-hour drive from Nafplio, a visit to Ancient Epidavros makes for a great day trip.