The ancient city of Epidaurus was on the coast, at a village now called Archaia Epidaurus. However, the impressive ruins are not in the city, but rather at the asclepeion - a ritual center devoted to Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, to which ancient Greeks would journey to in search of a cure for their diseases. The Epidaurus asclepeion is near the modern town of Lygourio, about 12 km inland from the ancient Epidaurus city.
The asclepeion was divided into a sanctuary, and what nowadays might be called a health resort or sanatorium. Medicine of the day took a holistic approach - believing that diseases of the body could only be cured if the mind was healthy. For this reason, an asklepieion would include an theater, library, stadium and other cultural attractions.
There were about 300 asclepeia in the classical world. But that of Epidaurus became the most celebrated healing center of them all, attracting visitors from far away. This led to the construction of numerous impressive buildings and monuments.
The Epidaurus asclepeion is known to have existed by the 6th century BCE. It reached its peak in the 4th and 3rd century BCE, and remained popular into the 4th century CE. Even after the rise of Christianity it continued to exist for some time as a Christian healing center. However in the 6th century it was destroyed by earthquakes.
It's about a 2-hour drive from Athens.
Buses run from Athens (KTEL Bus Terminal A). There are limited departures throughout the day, and additional trips scheduled around theatrical productions. See details.
There are also tour bus companies that run day trips to Epidaurus.
Fees and permits
Admission to the site and museum is €12. Reduced admission is €6. Fees might be lower in winter, when there are fewer visitors.
The site opens at 08:00, every day of the week. Closing time varies by season: 17:00 (Nov-Feb), 18:00 (Mar, Oct), 19:00 (Apr, 12-30 Sep), 20:00 (May-11 Sep). The site is closed or has reduced hours on a few holidays. See details.
- 1 Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. This stunningly well preserved theater held (and still holds) up to 14,000 spectators. It is particularly admired for its exceptional acoustics - 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. It was first constructed in the 4th century BCE, and seating was extended in the 2nd century BCE. It is still used today for theatrical performances, particularly as part of the Athens-Epidaurus Festival in the summer.
- 2 Archaeological museum of Epidaurus.
- 3 Katagogion. The main sleeping place for ancient visitors to the site.
- 4 Stadium.
- 1 Restaurant Mike, Μανιαδάκη 2, Palaia Epidavros 210 59 (Head down towards the carpark on the waterfront from Epidaurus town centre and the sign is on the left.), ☎ . Daily 11AM-11:30PM. Nice mid-range restaurant on the waterfront. Great service and a good range of vegetarian and vegan dishes (albeit unlabelled). €4-6 starters, €8-15 mains.