Sanctuary of Asklepios

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The theatre was designed by Polykleitos the Younger and built at the end of the classical era (340-330 BC), during the overall construction of the Asklepios sanctuary. It seats up to 15,000 people.Until the third century AD, music, song and drama competitions were hosted. Especially during the Asklepian games, which took place every four years in spring, drama performances were dedicated in the worship of Asklepios. The contemporary theatrical Festival of Epidaurus, is considered as one of the most prominent cultural events in the country.

Situated in a peaceful and harmonious environment, amongst abundant mineral springs and lush vegetation, the Sanctuary of Asklepios is known as the birthplace of medicine and as the most renowned healing centre of the Greek and Roman world.

The area was devoted to the worship of healing deities since Prehistory. The Asklepieion at Epidaurus is comprised of two sanctuaries: the earlier sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas (800 BC) on mountain Kynortion and the later, the largest and better known, sanctuary of Asklepios in the plain where the famous healing rituals and the Festival of Asklepieia took place.

The later Sanctuary contains the Temple of Asklepios which was surrounded by several buildings used for worship and healing rituals (the Abaton, the Tholos or Thymeli, the Banqueting Hall). There were also buildings for the needs of the patients and worshippers, and others used during the Asklepian Games, which were established in the fourth century BC. These included a large hostel for the patients and their aids, baths, a palaestra, a gymnasium, an odeon, a stadium and the most perfect example of a Greek theatre.

The remains of several small temples dedicated to Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite and other deities, related to the worship of Asklepios, are also preserved. Part of a complicated hydraulics system consisting of channels and settling basins are still visible today. Water from the mineral springs of Kynortion was brought to two distribution points in the northeast part of the sanctuary, the Doric Spring and the Sacred Spring.
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