Epidaurus

The wonder of the theatre is just the beginning

If you believe that Epidaurus is just the theatre prepare to be amazed

There are picturesque villages, secret beaches, Venetian castles, idyllic gorges, Mycenaean bridges (the oldest in the entire Europe) and even… pyramids that await to prove you that there are so much more. Not even the theatre is merely a theatre. But let’s start from the beginning.

A small guide for the newcomers

There are three villages and two theatres. It makes sense if you are confused the first time you come here. So let’s get this clear: The one that most people call “the theatre of Epidaurus” is located 14 kilometers outside the city of Epidaurus, at a village called Ligourio. In ancient Epidaurus, the most beautiful of the region’s villages, there is the Little Theatre, which is also ancient and small, and of the same era (4th century B.C.). There is also a third village, Nea Epidaurus, that hasn’t got a theatre- however, it has a nice beach and one of the most beautiful gorges of the Peloponnese that the lovers of hiking will find it thrilling.

The theatre of Epidaurus in numbers
  • It counts 2.358 years of History. Its construction is estimated in around 340 B.C.
  • It operated for 766 years before Theodosius of Byzantium, in 426 B.C., prohibit by decree its operation.
  • Precisely 80 years ago, after 1.512 years of silence, the performances started again with Sophocles Elektra, in 1938.
  • In 1955 the Epidaurus Festival was officially established and continues till today.
  • The Ancient theatre can fit 12.000 spectators and the little theatre 2.000.
  • 1071 words (of this text) are not enough to describe the awe you feel when you climb the stone steps, smell the pine trees, hear the song of the crickets and when you wait for the lights to turn off so that you can see the first stars above the theatre’s orchestra as the performance begins.
The (rest of the) archaeological site

The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus wasn’t just a theatre: It was part of Asklepieion, the most important therapeutic center of the whole known world. The sanctuary of Asclepius was considered the place where modern medicine was born: More than 200 therapeutic centers, in all the East Mediterranean, were institutions of the Epidaurus Asklepieion.

Today, at the archaeological site where the theatre is, are saved among others the impressive 5th century B.C. stadium, on which were held athletic games in honor of Asclepius, the Tholos or Thimeli that is considered as the most perfect circular building of ancient Greek architecture, and the renovated Stoa of Abaton, in which the patients after they were cleansed with water from the sacred well, they slept on the ground- the underground dwelling of the god-and then the god or his sacred animals appeared in their sleep and healed or showed them the right treatment.

  Within the archaeological site, very close to the theatre, there is the Archaeological Museum of Epidaurus that hosts important findings from the excavations of the Asklepieion and the Theatre: From large sized statues to entire pieces of the temples of Asclepius and Diana. 

Strolling the villages around the theatres
Pallia Epidaurus

As we mentioned before, it is one of the most beautiful villages of the region. Built around a picturesque harbor and next to a small green peninsula called Nisi, Pallia Epidaurus has a wonderful coastal walking path, on which every summer are held the Agricultural/Agro tourism Celebrations with the pure, exquisite products of the Argolis land.

In Pallia Epidaurus are also the region’s organized camping, as well as the prettiest beach, Kalamaki, with its pine trees reaching literally the tip of the waves. To get here you have to walk 5 minutes under the pine trees of the cobbled path that starts from Vagionia. Vagionia also has nice waters, fine pebbled beaches and free beach umbrellas to lay under. Other beaches of the region are the sandy Gialasi in front of the camping, the pebbled Panagitsa close by and families favorite, Nisi, in front of the little theatre.

 Ligourio

Built at the place of ancient Lissa, the closest village to the Ancient Theatre gathers in its taverns crowds of spectators after every performance. However, this is not the only reason to walk down its alleys. In its sights are included twelve byzantine churches, one of the best Greek Museum of Natural history and the famous Ligourio Pyramid of probably the 4th century, from which only its base is saved today (if you are interested in pyramids you can visit the pyramid of Elliniko, near Argos, which is in better condition). 

Ten kilometers outside Ligourio, on the road to Nafplio, is the most ancient bridge of Europe. It is called Kazarma Bridge. It is Mycenaean and built with big stones that dates back to 1300 B.C. Next to it starts a stone and dirt path that leads to two more Mycenaean bridges. The route is fantastic, especially in spring with an amazing view to the green hills and the flowery landscape.

Nea Epidaurus

It is built on the outer side of a steep cliff so that it wouldn’t be visible from the sea, even though it’s near, and to avoid pirate attacks. It is also known by History books as the place where the A’ National assembly of the revolutionized Greek state took place in December 1821- on that National Assembly it was decided that the national flag would be white and blue.

 Nowadays, Nea Epidaurus is a beautiful village with red- tiled roofs covering the houses and a Venetian castle as a crown on its top. A paved path will bring you up here after ten minutes of walking- the last meters are somehow steep and the castle is not in the best condition but the view is rewarding.

If you like hiking the gorge of Vothila is one of the prettiest walking routes in Argolis. The path that crosses it starts near the A’ Ethnosyneleusi (National assembly) Square and it has 4 kilometers length and moderate difficulty (some rocky spots needs extra carefulness during ascending). However, it crosses an amazing natural landscape, next to old watermills, under lash vegetation and between steep rocks. The view of the beach and of the Epidaurus valley at the end of the gorge and between two green hills is breath taking. 

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