The sanctuary of the God-Physician Asklēpiós in Epidaurus, southern Greece, is to get a makeover, as part of a project that will be included in National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds for 2014-2020.
Sanctuary of Asclepius in Epidaurus to get a makeover
Theatre at Epidaurus [Credit: Protothema]
Worship places of Asklēpiós were called 'asklepieia'. An asklepieion served as a temple, a hospital, and as a training-institute of the healing arts. The most famous of all the asklepieia was located at Epidaurus, and large parts of it are preserved. The site is open to visitors. In ancient Hellas, the sick would come to an asklepieion and offer a sacrifice to Asklēpiós--amongst the recorded sacrifices are black goats or sheep, gold, silver, or marble sculptures of the body part that required healing, and coins--in hopes of healing. They would then settle into the abaton or enkoimeterion, a restricted sleeping hall, which was occupied by the sick alone, or sometimes by a group of them, as well as a good few snakes.
According to Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis, the budget for the project amounts to 5,650,000 euros. The purpose of the initiative is to make improvements to the landscape surrounding this important archaeological site, including the addition of a herb garden with healing plants, new pathways for tourists, kiosks that will provide information about the history of medicine and promote local agricultural products with healing properties, etc.

Located in a small valley in the Peloponnesus, the shrine of Asclepius, comprises of three principal monuments, the temple of Asklēpiós, the Tholos and the Theatre – considered one of the purest masterpieces of Greek architecture – that date from the 4th century.

The theatre of Epidaurus was--and is--a huge theatre, seating 15.000 people. The theatre was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century BC. In the time of the Hellenes, the theatre had thirty-four rows. Another twenty-two were added in the time of the Romans. While there were many theatres in ancient Hellas, the theatre of Epidaurus is famous for its perfect acoustics. Even today, you can hear a match being struck on the stage from any point in the theatre. For a limestone construction that's 2400 years old, that's pretty impressive.

The vast site, with its temples and hospital buildings devoted to its healing gods, is a precious testimony to the practice of medicine in antiquity and it's brand new make-over should add much more allure to it.