Epidavros, Greece: Perfect Acoustics

Epidavros, Greece: Perfect Acoustics

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More info about travel to Greece's Peloponnese: https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/gre... The sanctuary at Epidavros, Greece, has the best-preserved theater in the ancient world and the scant remains of its city. Though it hasn't been in operation since 426 A.D., the theater still has perfect acoustics.

At http://www.ricksteves.com, you'll find money-saving travel tips, small-group tours, guidebooks, TV shows, radio programs, podcasts, and more on this destination.


Ancient Epidaurus

You are in the Peloponnese, in the concave of the ancient theatre of Epidaurus. From the upper tier, peace and tranquillity reign over the horizon and you understand immediately why the ancients chose this place to construct the famous Asclepion (or holistic healing centre) of Epidaurus. Now take a deep breath and look around at the grandstand and the stage down below, from which you can hear the proverbial pin drop.

You’re in possibly the most beautiful open-air, ancient theatre in the world, the birthplace of Psychagogia, meaning entertainment – in the fullest sense of the word. The theatre of Epidaurus was built as a place for patients to have therapeutic fun and has become renowned for its extraordinary acoustics. Now a Unesco World Heritage Site, it is still a therapy for body and soul. And best of all, it is an ancient theatre that is still alive today as, since 1955, performances of ancient tragedies have found their natural home here, nowadays during the annual Athens and Epidaurus Festival.


Site Plan: Ancient Epidavros Sanctuary of Asklepious is the best preserved theater in Greece with perfect acoustics!

Epidavros is a top ten ancient Greek site and has the best preserved theater in all of Greece.

The sanctuary itself is not in the nearby towns of New Epidavros or Old Epidavros. Click here for more info on Ancient Epidavros.

In ancient times, ancient Epidavros was the main mainland medical center sacred to the healer-god Asklepious and was known as the Asklepion.

Healers are first encountered in Homeric literature and they were typically kings, heroes, generals or all three. Often they carried out the duties of priests.

Herbs were often the method of treatment but Asklepious elevated medicine to a 'divine' science using faith and dream healing.

Many miraculous cures were afected as testified to by the many votive offerings and gifts to be seen in the museum many of which are in the form of the healed body part.

Epidavros was the ancient equivalent of the Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins and attracted the sick from all over the mediterranean world. Surgery was preformed in dire instances but sleep therapy was the primary treatment with divine healing visitations through dreams, the sought after remedy.

The best preserved structure at Epidavros is the ancient theater which seats 14,00 and has perfect acoustics. Each summer many theatrical presentations are enacted, usually in the Greek language (or in ancient Greek) of ancient Greek plays and tickets sell out quickly. At the Odeon of Herod Atticus in Athens similar presentations are also made so bear that in mind if theater is your bag and you cant make it (the two hours drive) to ancient Epidavros.

Ancient Epidavros Tour very popular! Click above! Click here for more info on Ancient Epidavros.


Sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus, Greece

Epidaurus is considered by many to be the birthplace of modern medicine. It began as a sanctuary dedicated to the god of medicine, Asclepius. People, who suffered from illnesses, travelled long distances to be blessed by the deity. Over the years, the holy men at the site began using herbs, cleansing rituals, and other techniques that transformed the treatment from divine to scientific. The knowledge developed here became the basis for future medical innovations.

For travellers curious about the roots of European culture, a visit here—with its hospitals and temples—provides insight into an early approach to medicine and a fascinating view into the healing cults of Ancient Greece and Rome. As well, the main buildings are excellent examples of the architecture of the era and the theatre, in particular, is considered a masterpiece.

Epidaurus is a one-of-a-kind archaeological site, featuring the remains of one of the most complete Greek sanctuaries of the ancient world. Walk through the foundations of a hospital, where worshippers of Asclepius believed his divine powers would heal them. Visit the well-preserved theatre, with its miraculous shell-like structure and amazing acoustics and harmonious architecture, which provided an escape for visitors from their everyday problems. The athletic and artistic contests held here formed an integral part of the activities conducted in honour of the god of medicine. In the warmer months, don't miss the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, which hosts performances by internationally acclaimed theatre, dance, and music artists.

The Beginning of Medicine

The sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus, situated in a quiet valley in the northeastern Peloponnese, is a tribute to the origins of Greco-Roman healing cults. The vast site, with its temples and hospital buildings devoted to gods, provides evidence of the transition from belief in divine healing to the science of medicine. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1988 on the basis of being the earliest organised sanatorium and as one of the most complete ancient Greek sanctuaries—renowned for its architectural brilliance and influence.

Initially it was a site of ceremonial healing practices in the 2nd millennium BC, and these curative associations were enriched through the cults of Apollo Maleatas in the 8th century BC and Asclepius by the 6th century BC. The sanctuary of the two gods was developed into the single most important therapeutic centre of the ancient world. These practices were subsequently spread to the rest of the Greco-Roman world and the sanctuary is considered the cradle of medicine.

An extensive construction programme was undertaken during the 4th and the 3rd centuries BC and included the striking theatre of Epidaurus. Renowned for its perfect architectural proportions and exemplary acoustics, the structure was erected in the southern part of the sanctuary in order to host performances.

The theatre was discovered during the first systematic excavation of the sanctuary in 1881. Its magnificent level of preservation led to the decision to host events consistent with its character and cultural significance. Since 1975, the theatre has staged numerous plays from ancient and modern (like Shakespeare and Becket) classical writers. In 2017, an initiative was launched—Epidaurus Lyceum—to teach ancient drama to new actors and drama students from around the world.

How to Get There

By car, the Sanctuary of Asclepius in Epidaurus is approximately two hours from Athens. Follow the signs to Corinth. After the Corinth Canal, turn right and pass under the highway and follow signs to Epidaurus. The theatre parking lot has plenty of spaces for cars and coaches.

Please keep in mind that the name of the site on signs can vary and it may be written “Epidaurus” or “Epidavros.” They both refer to the same location. When you are headed to the Sanctuary of Asclepius, don’t be distracted by signs to New Epidaurus or Palaia/Old Epidaurus because they will lead you to a modern coastal town and not to the archaeological site of the sanctuary.

There are daily buses departing from Athens's central bus station in Kifissos to Epidaurus direct or via Nafplio. From the Athens International Airport take the X93 direct bus to the Kifissos bus station.

When to Visit

Epidaurus is a year-round destination. Weather conditions are especially reliable during the spring and summer.

Performances in the ancient theatre take place during the Epidaurus Festival in the summer. The official programme starts in June and ends in August. The programme includes ancient and modern theatre, opera, dance, music concerts, and visual arts.

How to Visit

To get a complete overview of the site and surrounding area, spend at least one full day and night. This will give you the chance to enjoy the main archaeological sites, regional museums, traditional food in the taverns, beautiful beaches, picturesque villages, wineries, ceramic workshops, and shops with local products.


Epidavros, Greece: Perfect Acoustics - History

The god Apollo had a son, Asclepius, who was raised by a centaur, a creature who is part man, part horse. The centaur had immense knowledge of medicine and healing herbs, and Asclepius grew up to be a highly skilled physician. His daughter, Hygeia, worked with him. She was the goddess of health, and her name is the source of the word hygiene. Asclepius was born in Epidavros - where the myth ends and we move into reality.

Based on the stories of Asclepius, it was natural for the ancient Greeks to build a health centre in his birthplace. This soon became the best health centre in antiquity, and wealthy citizens went there for both diagnosis and curing. The first night they had to spend in a particular hall, and the dreams they had that night would help in the hunt for the correct diagnosis. The centre, begun in the sixth century BC, was actually in operation until the 5th century a.d., but eventually it was not Asclepius one requested healing from, but the Christian god.

The area is large, the archaeologists have done a comprehensive job, and a visit here can put your mind back to the horrors of many illnesses in the past - especially if you visit the small but good museum first, and take a look at the surgical instruments they used in ancient times.

The health centre and the city of Epidavros, which then was in the same place, attracted so many people that in the 4 century BC a theatre was erected. This theatre could accommodate 15,000 people spread over 55 rows - counting the last 21 rows added by the Romans. The acoustics are so perfect that you can hear people whispering on stage even if you are on the back row!

The theatre is still in use, primarily showing ancient Greek comedies and tragedies, like Antigone, Oedipus, Oresteia, and Lysistrata. The performances are given in July and August each year, and it is an indescribable feeling to sit on the ancient pews and experience the same as people did over 2,000 years ago. It’s even ok if you don’t understand Greek, it is possible to read a little about the actual play in advance, for instance online, and get good results anyway. Lately, many of the plays comes with "subtitles" an a screen above the scene. The black velvet Greek night and the atmosphere in general help, of course, to the enjoyment and beauty. Sometimes even English-speaking theatre companies come to perform here.

Tickets should be booked in advance, for example on greekfestival.gr

KTEL tends to set up a bus service between Nafplio and Epidavros on the evenings of performance, but just to be sure, you should check it out beforehand.

Entrance fee: 12 E (2016), tickets for plays cover the entrance fee at time of performance.


GREECE PRIVATE TRAVEL TOURS & TRANSFERS

Best tour / guide for Epidavros, the greatest healing center

Tour in Epidavros, Asclepious healing center. visit Asclepios Temple, Hospital, Theater famous for its acoustic, enjoy a classical performance. Greece Private Tours

EPIDAURUS/ ASCLEPIOUS

Visit Epidaurus/ Epidavros, Asclepios sanctuary and theater. Do not miss.

Another famous site in the Argolis is Epidaurus. In the hinterland of Epidavros, on a site enjoying a mild climate and plentiful water from healing springs, the Epidavrians founded the sanctuary of Asklepios, the most brilliant center of healing in the ancient world, which flourished from the late 5th century B.C. until the end of Roman era. The towns magnificent theater, still almost intact, stands in a wooded hollow of a hill not far from the Archaeological Museum.

The prestige and reputation acquired by Asklepios as the major god of healing led to great economic prosperity for his sanctuary, which made it possible to implement a large building programmed in the 4th and 3rd C. BC, to house his cult in monumental buildings. The peripteral Doric temple of Asklepios, erected between 380 and 375 BC, was the work of the architect Theodotos. The pedimental sculptures were carved by Timotheos, while the chryselephantine statue of Asklepios was the work of Thrasymedes of Paros. The tholos was built next to the temple in 360-330 BC. This circular, peristyle building was the center of the chthonic mystery cult of Asklepios and its famous sculptures are attributed to the Argive architect and sculptor Polykleitos, who is also considered to be responsible for the theater at Epidavros, one of the most perfect and the best preserved of the ancient Greek theaters.

The theater , which can accommodate 14000 spectators, forms a section of a circle slightly larger than a semicircle. It consists of 55 rows of seats divided by a promenade (diazoma) into an upper and a lower section. The seats of honor, reserved for the magistrates and the priests, were situated in the first row of the upper section and in the back and first row of the lower section, the spectators in the rest of the lower section have cushions to sit on. The performance could be heard and seen perfectly from every seat in the theater as can be demonstrated today by whispering or rustling a piece of paper in the centre of the orchestra, the sound carries without distortion to the top back corner of the huge spread of terraces some 22.50m/74ft from the ground.


Epidaurus

Epidaurus is 20 miles (32 km) east of Nafplio, and about 40 miles (62 km) due southwest from Athens. Although it is now best-known for the perfect acoustics of its famous 15,000-seat theater, the theater is there because of the Sanctuary of Asclepius, which was Greece's most famous healing center during antiquity, dating from at least 600 BC. About two hundred years later the theatre was built, where music contests and plays were held. The theatre is a testament to the large number of visitors who would come to Epidaurus for healing at the same time. A number of other buildings were constructed to house the pilgrims.

The location is said to be Asclepius' birth place. Although Homer says that he was a mortal, later myth made Asclepius into the son of Apollo, the sun god. The legend is that Asclepius was the child of Apollo and the daughter of the king of Orchomenes.

The locale is named after Epidaurus, who, Homer says, was a local ruler who took part in the Trojan war. Under his charge were two generals, Podaliro and Machaon, sons of Asclepius. In the 6th century a cult dedicated to Apollo was established there. Excavations have uncovered a sanctuary from hundreds of years before that, during the Mycenaean era.

Pilgrims seeking healing would converge here from all over Greece, leaving a gift for the gods of healing, Apollo, Asclepius, and Hygeia ("hygeia" is still the Greek word for "health."). The gift was usually a clay model of the body part that needed attention. The museum there displays hundreds of these clay body parts. Then the visitor would sleep in one of the rooms of the katagogeion (patients' dormitory), and hope for a visit from one of the gods.

Epidaurus' is sited in a small valley surrounded by higher hills. Overlooking the entire complex, at an elevation of 1400 feet (430m) was the sanctuary of Apollo Maleatas. About 200 feet (70m) lower is the theater, which is a masterpiece of Greek amphitheatre architecture designed by Polycletes the Younger of Argos. Not much lower than the theatre was the Sanctuary of Asclepius and a number of other buildings including a gymnasium, baths, a stadium and the katagogeion.

By the 5th century games were being held there every four years, which is when the stadium was built. Epidaurus reached its peak during the 4th century. The site was pillaged by the Roman general Sulla in 87 BC, but it still operated as a healing center. The famous Greek travel writer Pausanias writes about Epidaurus around 150 AD.

Epidaurus, when large numbers of tourists are absent, is a quiet place, with the feeling of being somewhat in the middle of nowhere, despite being not more than a couple days' journey from Athens.


Epidaurus

Epidaurus (Greek: Επίδαυρος, Epidavros) was a small city (polis) in ancient Greece, at the Saronic Gulf. Two modern towns bear the name Epidavros (Επίδαυρος): Palaia Epidavros and Nea Epidavros. Since 2010 they belong to the new municipality of Epidavros, part of the peripheral unit of Argolis. The seat of the municipality is the town Asklipieio.

The prosperity brought by the Asklepieion enabled Epidaurus to construct civic monuments too: the huge theatre that delighted Pausanias for its symmetry and beauty, which is used once again for dramatic performances, the ceremonial Hestiatoreion (banqueting hall), baths and a palaestra. The theater was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BC. The original 34 rows were extended in Roman times by another 21 rows. As is usual for Greek theatres (and as opposed to Roman ones), the view on a lush landscape behind the skene is an integral part of the theatre itself and is not to be obscured. It seats up to 15,000 people.

The theatre is marveled for its exceptional acoustics, which permit almost perfect intelligibility of unamplified spoken word from the proscenium or skene to all 15,000 spectators, regardless of their seating (see Ref., in Greek). Famously, tour guides have their groups scattered in the stands and show them how they can easily hear the sound of a match struck at center-stage. A 2007 study by Nico F. Declercq and Cindy Dekeyser of the Georgia Institute of Technology indicates that the astonishing acoustic properties are either the result of an accident or the product of advanced design: The rows of limestone seats filter out low-frequency sounds, such as the murmur of the crowd, and amplify/reflect high-frequency sounds from the stage.


Epidavros and Sanctuary of Asklepios, Hellas Greece

We start from Athens and via the Seaside National Highway we reach the Isthmus of Corinth, where we will have our first stop, which will last for 10 – 15 minutes. The Isthmus of Corinth is about 6km long and connects The Aegean Sea with the Ionian Sea, separating Central Greece from the Peloponnese.

Our next stop is Epidaurus, with its majestic theatre, its wonderful museum and the temple of Asclepius, son of the God Apollo, where, according to Mythology he was born.

The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus is regarded as the best preserved ancient theatre in Greece in terms of its perfect acoustics and fine structure. It was constructed in the late 4th century BC and it was finalized in two stages. Originally the theatre had 34 rows of seats divided into 34 blocks by stairs and walkways. It is situated near the ancient sanctuary of Asklepios, a celebrated healing center of the classical world. It was used as a therapeutic and religious centre dedicated to Asklepios, the god of healing.

Today the sanctuary is an extended archeological site with interesting buildings. The theatre is surrounded by lush greenery, an integral part of the theatre itself. This famous ancient theatre distinguishes for its architectural symmetry and the great acoustics. Due to its incomparable acoustics the actors can be perfectly heard by all 15,000 spectators, as you can even hear the sound of a pin dropping. It is known from the antiquity until the present days for its size, the unique architecture and harmonious proportions. It was built by the architect Polykleitos on the side of a mountain and overlooking the sanctuary of Asklepius. This is a superb example of classical theater with an orchestra and the circular area between the seats and the stage. The highest distance of the concave is 58 metres, while the diameter of the stage is 20 metres. For centuries the monument remained covered by a slope of trees until the year 1881, when several excavations took place. As the theatre was built after the classical times, not a single original ancient drama had been presented there, but all performances were repetitions of classic plays. Since 1938, when modern dramas started to be presented again in the theatre, it has hosted hundreds of plays.

The famous Epidavria Festival, presently Athens Epidaurus Festival, begun in 1954 and it is held every summer with famous ancient dramas or modern plays. Over the years, the festival has hosted both Greek and foreign artists.

Trip duration: 7 hours.
Taxi sedan class (1 – 4 people): €230
Minivan (5 – 7 people): please contact us
Minibus (8 – 11): please contact us

Notes

We use German new brand car, with an English speaking driver.
The drivers are not professional tour guides, so they cannot follow you and are not licenced to guide you in archaeological sites and museums. The drivers know History and Mythology and can provide you with information concerning all sites that you visit. This knowledge is of adequate level. If you wish to have a guide we can appoint you to one and of course, this service comes with an extra charge.
Included in the price you will find all local duties, fuel, VAT, toll fees and the charge of luggage.
Drinks, refreshments, meals, admission tickets for the archaeological sites and museums are not included in the price.
The price concerns the vehicle and NOT each person individually.

Useful information

Wear comfortable clothes and trainers, also a hat and sunglasses. Photographing of the sites is allowed.


Argolida - Peloponnese (Greece)

Argolida (Argolis) is a Greek prefecture located in the northeast of the Peloponnese peninsula. Actually, it is a peninsula on a peninsula, though it is everywhere surrounded by sea. Argolida is a beautiful area, a combination of wonderful mountains, great plains and there behind, the beautiful sea. There are green fields, high and low mountains, olive groves, picturesque villages,historical towns and cities, great historical and archaeological sites, the most impressive ancient theatres and great sea resorts.

Argolida is bordered to the north of Corinth, in the west of Arcadia, in the northeast of the Saronic Gulf in the southwest and the Gulf of Argolis. Many of Greece's most beautiful sights are in Argolida. Mycenae and Epidaurus are among the most famous sights of Greece but there is much more.

Capital of Argolida is the fantastic city of Nafplion. It is a city, one of the most beautiful in Greece where some very historical places are located as the castle of Palamidi, Akronaflpia and the islet of Bourtzi.

Sights Argolis: Argos, Epidaurus, Kranidi, Methana, Mycenae, Nafplion, Asini, Nea Kios, Folegandros, Ligourio, Porto Cheli, Tolo


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