Epidaurus was a small Greek city that thrived in the 6th century B.C. until the 2nd century B.C. The city today is well-known for its Greek theatre, which is the best preserved ancient theatre in the world. Since the city is so remote, the stones were never looted. The most remarkable aspect of the Epidaurus theatre is the amazing acoustics, which are demonstrated over and over by the guides.
Epidaurus used to be a center of medical treatment. There was a temple dedicated to Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine. Sick people could come to Epidaurus, usually with their whole family, where they could stay for weeks to get treated. A large part of the treatment were the medicinal mineral hot water springs, where the sick could bathe every day.
Traveling to become better wasn’t as easy in ancient times as it is right now. While today, family is usually a short drive from the hospital, in ancient Greece, people had to travel for a few weeks to get to Epidaurus, so family and slaves came along with the patient. Because there were usually multiple people coming along with the sick person, who had to stay in Epidaurus for a long time, there were some facilities to entertain these people. There was a gymnasium, which was a place for people to exercise, and a theatre. Here, actors preformed tragedies and comedies, so the company of the sick person was amused while they were waiting for their loved one to get better.
The Epidaurus theatre is very well preserved, because of the remote location and because the theatre was partly covered by earth after a landslide. Because the theatre is still so intact, the acoustics still work and they are astounding. Guides often demonstrate how the acoustics work and how the sound of your voice changes according to where in the orchestra you stand. Once I was on the top row of the theatre, I could hear people talking down below in normal voices.
Today, there are still plays preformed in the theatre. This must be a special experience, but I was only there for an afternoon. Whether you are going there to see a play or not, I’d recommend going to Epidaurus to experience the amazing acoustics for yourself.
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