The Herion and Epidauros

Epidauros Travel Blog

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We left the gorgeous views of Loutraki and headed to the nearby Herion. This wasn’t originally on our itinerary, but our professor Stavros asked if we wanted to see it. I answered for the class that of course we did, and our bus driver, Giorgos agreed to drive us. The Herion was incredible. The archeological remains were very fragmentary, but it was on this gorgeous hidden alcove, with an ancient dock. One of the buildings there is possibly the most ancient temple in Greece, but this is hard to prove. Most of the remains at the Herion are similarly problematic, atypical and hard to identify. The Herion was dedicated to Hera Akraia, meaning Hera of the Peninsula. There were no personal homes in the Herion, but remains of a town dating to the 4th or 5th centuries BCE was discovered nearby. There are also Roman ruins including an impressive cistern and a taberna behind it, most likely frequented by pilgrims.

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We didn’t spend much time there before heading on to the main event of the day – Epidaurus. Epidaurus is famous for its largest surviving Greek theater, which still has perfect acoustics. I walked to the very top, while my friend Aubrey stood on the stage and spoke to me in a normal voice. I could hear her at the very top of the theater. It would have been incredible to see a play there.

Epidaurus was significant back in the day for it’s temple to Asclepius. The iconography of Asclepius is one that most people would recognize even to this day – It’s a serpent curled around a staff – used today as a symbol for pharmacies or general medicine. This is because Asclepius, son of Apollo was the God of healing. The temple to Asclepius was a sort of medical/religious center where pilgrims would come for physical and mental healing. Pilgrims would sleep, sometimes with snakes, and would hope to be visited by the Gods in their dreams. There were bath complexes and gymnasia as well as medical centers on the campus. Even the theater was part of the healing process.

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It was so hot at Epidaurus, and full of tourists. We were all starving, overheated and cranky by the time we left. We spent that night in Nafplio. We didn’t climb up to the Palamidi this time, because we arrived too late in the afternoon. We had an optional evening class with Stavros, and we climbed up to a nearby, smaller hill that had a really beautiful view of the Palamidi and the port. We hung out there and watched the sunset. No one else wanted to hold hands and sing Kumbaya, but it would have been the perfect time and place. Those of us who attended the optional class then went out afterwards with Stavros. Nafplio seemed to have a really charming night life, with lots of cafes right on the water.

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Epidauros
photo by: sylviandavid