Archeological Site of Epidaurus (1988)

Back to index

In a small valley in the Peloponnesus, the site of Epidaurus sprawls out over several levels. 

Greece 1980. The Antique stadium of Epidaurus, with an ancient coin from Epidaurus. Greece 1998. Europa Stamp. Culture Festival in the Epidaurus Theatre.

The cult of Asclepius first began there in the 6th century B.C., but the principal monuments, particularly the theatre which is rightfully considered one of the purest masterpieces of Greek architecture, date from the 4th century. 

The vast site is a tribute to the healing cults of Greek and Roman times, with temples and hospital buildings devoted to its gods. 

The Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus was the most celebrated healing centre of the ancient world.
The cult is attested as early as the 6th century B.C. when the hill-top sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas was no longer spacious enough for the public worship of the Epidaurus city-state. The authority and radiance of Asklepios as the most important healer god of antiquity, brought to the sanctuary great financial prosperity, which in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. enabled the implementation of an ambitious building program for the construction of monumental buildings for the worship (the temple and the altar of Asklepios, the Tholos, the Abaton, etc.), and later, of buildings mainly secular in character (the Theatre, the Ceremonial Hestiatoreion, the Baths, the Palaestra, etc.). The Asklepieion survived until the end of antiquity, having experienced a second heyday in the 2nd century A.D. 

The French Scientific Mission to the Peloponnese was the first to conduct excavations on the site. However, all the monuments of the Asklepieion have been brought to light in systematic excavations carried out by the Greek Archaeological Society (1879-1926) under the direction of P. Kavvadias. Additional investigations were conducted in 1942-43 on the Abaton and building E, by E. Martin and H. Metzger. The excavations were resumed from 1948 to 1951, and have been continued since 1974, mainly in the sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas. Since 1985, complementary archaeological research has been undertaken by the Committee for the Preservation of the Epidaurus Monuments.

The first restoration works at the Asklepieion started on the Theatre in 1907, and continued in 1954-1963. In 1984, the task of rescuing the sanctuary from decay as well as improving its presentation as a whole, while organizing an instructive and controlled route for the large number of visitors, was undertaken by the Committee for the Preservation of the Epidaurus Monuments.
The restoration of the Abaton, the Tholos, the Propylon of the "Gymnasium", and the Gate of the West Parodos of the Theatre, with extensive conservation treatment of the authentic material, is in various stages of implementation. Also, for the direct rescue of the authentic material of other monuments, Greek and Roman, conservation is currently in progress. 

Other World Heritage Sites in Greece (on this website). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Greece-section, for further information about the individual properties.

Back to index

Revised 21 jul 2006  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
All Rights Reserved