Greek Festival at Ancient Theater of Epidaurus
Greece’s foremost cultural festival, the Athens & Epidaurus Festival presents numerous theatre, dance, and music artists, acclaimed in Greece and worldwide, attracting large audiences from around the world. History of the venue
The Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus, within which the Epidaurus Ancient Theatre is situated, was one of the most extensive sacred sanctuaries in ancient Greece. It belonged to Epidaurus, a small citystate of the Classical period located on the nearby western coast of the Saronic Gulf, where the village of Palea Epidavros (Old Epidaurus) stands today. The buildings of the Sanctuary - temples, athletics facilities, the theatre, baths, etc. - were built in an elevated valley surrounded by mountains. The Sanctuary was linked to the ancient city of Epidaurus by an ancient road, large parts of which survive alongside the modern asphalt road leading to the site. The construction of the theatre
As Epidaurus developed, various athletic and artistic contests, including theatrical ones, were added to the worship of god Asklepios, through which systematic medical care was developed in antiquity. These contests at the Sanctuary (held in the theatre, the stadium and elsewhere) formed an integral part of the activities conducted in honour of the god of medicine. Unlike other theatres of the Classical and Hellenistic periods, the theatre at Epidaurus was not modified during Roman times, and thus retained its original form throughout antiquity.
The prevailing view among experts is that the theatre was built in two distinct phases. The first dates to the 4th century BC, a period of significant construction activity at the Sanctuary. The second corresponds to the mid-2nd century BC. The original layout of the Epidaurus Theatre stage shows that it was intended for the performance of dramatic works at the level of the orchestra. During the second phase, actors would have performed on a raised proscenium, leaving the orchestra for the chorus.
The theatre is the best preserved monument of the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus. It has a perfectly executed tripartite structure characteristic of Hellenistic period theatres: auditorium, orchestra, and stage building (skene). The orchestra is perfectly circular (19.5 m in diameter), with a floor of beaten earth bounded by a ring stones at its perimeter. An open duct running around the outside of the orchestra collects and drains the rainwater that runs off the auditorium.