Visited ancient Epidavros theatre and the seaside village of Ancient Epidavros – the latter mainly for Dave to revisit old ground from 1977 that was rekindled by the previous day’s visit to the small but quite amazing Archaeological Museum in Nafplio where there was a display about excavations at Ancient Epidavros.
We drove quite easily out of Nafplio and were soon at the famous and well known site of Epidavros. Jan could hardly walk due to having walked down the 909+ steps the previous day, but battled on bravely. This Epidavros is mainly known for its theatre – seats about 14,000 people and is used still very summer for concerts. Dates from about C 3rd BC, and most tourists go to see it and not what it was really famous for, which is the similarly aged sanctuary of Asklepios, which was known over many years for its healing powers and in fact seemed to act in many ways like a hospital. There was also something to do with Apollo who had displaced the Mycenaean deity who also practiced there. And then there was the god of healing – Asklepios, which this whole thing seemed mainly to be about. Basically it seemed that they gave the sick a good feed, a pep talk and some special (probably clean) water and then you had a sleep and woke up OK. There was also some attempt at surgery in the later years – and on display they had some of the surgical instruments. Give me a good feed and a sleep any day.
We visited the theatre end first and were blessed with not too many tourists performing on the centre stage, where it reputed that all the audience can hear a coin drop – people dropped coins, sang solos, sang in groups etc. It was easy to hear them from up in the theatre – quite amazing for such a big open air space – and you could hear a coin drop. We spent a couple of hours then pottering around the large and expansive Asklepios site. They are restoring a few of the temples, but there was plenty else to look at, particularly more water systems and drainage, one of Jan’s passionate interests. It appears her real aim in life was to be a drainage/sewerage archaeologist. I have suggested she starts another travel blog about drainage systems in Greece. She has a good collection of photos to include.
Went on to Ancient Epidavros and found the area Dave remembered – but I think he should write about it. Ok, tis Dave talking now. Barb/Tig and I camped in Ancient Epidavros and on a walk in the evening came across a theatre that was partly excavated – but the more important olive trees were all left alive and intact, like pillars metres high amongst a few rows of what looked like very old seats in some ancient theatre. I have photos of the theatre (and the olive trees). From what I saw in the Nafplio museum it seemed likely that the theatre we saw back in 1977 was now part of much bigger excavations in Ancient Epidavros.
So after the big Epidavros, Jan and I pottered down to Ancient Epidavros to see if we could find it. We sure did – and the nearby camping ground under an orange grove where Tig and I had camped. Unfortunately the site was fenced off to tourists as there were still excavations being undertaken. The theatre part was fully excavated and easily visible, and then there were covers over some very extensive and complete Roman baths that were adjoining the theatre. There was a team of guys digging in a new trench nearby (well as is the habit, one of them was digging and the other 5 were talking/arguing/gesturing). After we’d had a look we wandered over to them and spoke to one of them – and he told us about the theatre and baths. He was very passionate about it all and asked where we were from – when he knew it was Australia the conversation moved to bushfires which sidetracked us from more talk about Ancient Epidavros. We wandered around some more and there were bits and pieces of evidence of old buildings everywhere. A fun and intimate site –a nice finish to the day.