Sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus – The stoa of Abaton or “Enkoimeterion” (incubation hall) was the place in which patients were cured, through the contact with the healing god Asklepios during the “enkoimesis” (incubation). This kind of healing was a mystery, so the scoa was an “abaton” (impenetrable), which means blocked for those who had not prepared themselves to encounter Asklepios.
Sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus
Abaton was a long narrow building, 70 m long and 10 m wide, built in two levels on a rather steep slope north of the temple of Asklepios and the Tholos. It was constructed in two phases. In the early 4th century B.C. the eastern half of the stoa was built on the higher part of the slope. The architect of the second phase (late 4th century B.C.) exploited the difference of level produced by the slope to the northwest and added there a two-storeyed stoa doubling the original length of the building.
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The Lion Gate Mycenae – Not far from the Treasury of Atreus or Agamemnon’s Tomb we find the ancient city of Mycenae. The entrance to the city was guaranteed by a very particular door: The Lion Gate Mycenae.
The fortification wall of the Mycenaean acropolis follows the natural contour of the ground and is founded directly on the outcropping bedrock. It is in the shape of a triangle and covers an area of 30,000 sq. m. with a total length of 900 m. It was built in three construction phases.
The oldest fortification, which dates to 1350 BC, contained the highest part of the hill. For the construction of these walls were used boulders of hard limestone bedrock.
The Lion Gate Mycenae: Video
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The Lion Gate Mycenae: description
The Lion Gate Mycenae is characterized by a central slab supported by two lateral ones. Rectangular stone rocks are placed one above the other except for the suspended central slab. A pure aesthetic factor?
The heavy stone rocks were not placed on the central slab in order not to weigh them down. There was in fact the risk that otherwise it could be broken. For this reason, it was left empty. In order not to leave it completely empty and to complete the work, a decorative plate was placed.
Why is it called Lion Gate?
The Lion Gate Mycenae takes its name from the decorative plate placed on the top of the door. It is called the Lion Gate but it would be more correct to call it the lionesses Gate. The lions on the slab lack the characteristic mane of the lions.
The decorative slab is now partially ruined by time but the 2 lionesses must have originally had their heads turned towards those who entered.
For many peoples the main reason to visit the Archaeological Site of the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus is the Epidaurus Theater.
The Epidaurus Theater is in fact the best preserved monument in the Sanctuary of Asklepios.
Let’s see a few information about the Epidaurus Theater!
How old is the Epidaurus Theater?
The Epidaurus Theater was erected at the end of the 4th century B.C.
Who built the theater of Epidaurus?
According to the ancient traveler Pausanias (2nd century A.D.), it was the work of the architect Polykleitos, who built also the Tholos in the same Sanctuary.
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How many people could the original Theatre of Epidaurus seat?
The auditorium of the Theatre the koilon or cavea, consists of two unequal parts, which are divided by a horizontal walkway, known as the diazoma. The lower part is divided by 13 radiating staircases into 12 wedge-shaped segments, the kerkides or cunei, with 34 rows of seats each. At the upper part of the cavea 23 radiating passages divide it into 22 wedge-shaped segments with 20 rows of seats.
To each segment of the lower part correspond two segments of the upper part. The seats of the lowest row were provided with backrests and used as “prohedriae” (front seats of honour); similarly shaped were the seats of the upper part’s first row. Uphill pathways outside the Theatre led on both sides to the horizontal passage which divided the upper from the lower part of the cavea.
It is estimated that the Epidaurus Theater could accommodate 12,000 spectators.
What is remarkable about the theater at Epidaurus?
Epidaurus Theater is a characteristic example of Hellenic theatres’ tripartite structure (orchestra – cavea – stage building). Its original form remained intact in Roman times, during which most Greek theatres underwent major changes. The floor of the circular orchestra (diameter 20 m) is beaten earth. It is outlined in stone, while at its center, a circular base of an altar, the thymele, is preserved. A walkway surrounds the orchestra on the lower level, which served additionally as a drain for rainwater.
The scene (stage building) in front of the orchestra and the cavea served the needs of the actors and had a parallel use as storage room of theatrical equipment.
The scene building was composed of
a rectangular oblong hall with two smaller square rooms on each side,
a proscenium (stage), on whose facade was fixed panels representing the setting of each play,
two ramps, one on each side, which provided access to the roof of the proscenium for the actors, and
an upper storey of the scene building, of which no evidence has been preserved.
Scholars estimate that the total height of the stage building was 7.60 m. Spectators entered the Epidaurus Theater through two impressive gates situated on both sides of the stage building, between it and the lower part of the retaining wall of the cavea. The seats of the cavea were made out of local grey at reddish hard limestone, while for the stage building, a yellow soft limestone was used.
The cavea was constructed at the end of the 4th century B.C. while the stage building was modified during the 2nd century B.C. A characteristic feature of the Theatre was (and still is) its excellent acoustics. It had largely to do with its design. The creation of the circular shape of the cavea was based on three centres. The eight central cunei corresponded to a circumference which had as centre the centre of the orchestra.
The two lateral cunei were designed with different centers, which lay further away from the orchestra’s center, providing a larger radius and, consequently, a larger circle. Besides its contribution to acoustics, this “opening” on the edges of the cave allowed a better view of those sitting in the lateral cunei.
What was the Theatre of Epidaurus used for?
The Theatre of the Sanctuary was closely connected to the cult of Asklepios.
During the festivals held in honor of the god, athletic games, musical and dramatic contests also took place. The latter was surely housed in the Theatre, where most probably deep-rooted ceremonies were closely connected with the cult.
Why is the Theatre at Epidaurus still famous?
Today theatrical plays are again performed in the Epidaurus Theater during the summer (Epidauros festival). The Theatre was excavated in 1881 by P. Kavvadias, who then carried out partial restorations. Restoration works by An. Orlandos took place in the monument in the years 1954-1963.
He proceeded then to a reconstruction of the proscenium, which was later removed. The Committee for the Conservation of the Epidauros Monuments restored the western parodos gate, the last upper western cuneus (1988-1999) and the ancient drains (1992-2007). A third program includes restoration works in the cavea and the stage building.
Ancient Corinth is a very good day trip from Athens. From Athens it takes about 1 hour and 15 minuted by car. Ancient Corinth is worthy of a visit for several reasons.
Firstly it’s very interesting in trying to understand the life in the this rich city. It was a very multicultural city because of the Corinth Canal. It’s true it wasn’t navigable till the end of the 1800 so ships had to be transported to the other side and they prefered this option rather than navigate all around the Peloponnese Region. You can see how the Corinth Canal is now, watching the video below:
Ancient Corinth is also linked with the Apostle Paul who lived and preached in the city for several time.
In order to enjoy more the visit we examine a few information about the Ancient Corinth.
What are the characteristics of the Ancient Corinth? What was life like there? You’ll discover it while reading this post.
Outside the walls of Ancient Corinth
Ancient Corinth covered a range of 900 km2 because there wasn’t only the main city but also many smaller settlements.
Already from the 8th c. B.C., it was a rich and a powerful city-state especially due to two ports:
At Lechaion in the Corinthian Gulf
At Kenchreai from the side of the Saronic Gulf
Ancient Corinth and its reign
The eastern region of Corinthia was relatively underpopulated. The most important settlement of the region must have been Solygeia, close to the modern village Galataki.
The most northern settlement of Corinthia was Krommyon, close to the modern village Ayoio Theodoroi. According to myth, this is where Theseus killed the dangerous sow, Phaia.
Corinth consisted of dozens of settlements, small and large. But what did their residents have in common?
These people drew their common descent from the Dorians. And of course, they shared a common language and alphabet.
Ancient Corinth was built at the foot of the Acrocorinth, a majestic hill, dominating the landscape.
The home’s life in Ancient Corinth
In ancient Greece private buildings were usually humble structures unlike many public magnificent constructions.
Households were run by women. They were responsible for raising their children and supervising the slaves, who were given the heaviest duties in the house.
Men were usually absent. mainly occupied with political and professional engagements.
Visiting the Ancient Corinth you easily understand how the women’s habits were very similar to ours. In the museum you can see face care sets, such as profumes and cosmetics, hair accessories and eyebrow tweezers.
Gods Venerating And Heroes
The Corinthians worshiped Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Demeter, Kore, Hera and Poseidon. Hero cult was a distinctive aspect of ancient Greek religious life.
Heroes, men who had showed remarkable activity during their lifetime, were honored after their death with rituals performed at their tombs or at an open-air sanctuary. Heroes’ sanctuaries were built along side roads or over older graves.
A temple dedicated to Apollo
The Temple of Apollo is the archaeological site biggest monument. The temple was built in the 6th c. B.C., when Corinth was at its zenith, on the site of an earlier temple. It was constructed from the local poros limestone.
The temple is in Doric order and originally had six columns at each end and fifteen along each side. Notable characteristics of its archaic date include the great length of the temple relative to its width, the large monolithic columns, and the squat, widely flaring capitals. Although most of this mid-6th century B.C. building has been destroyed, the bedrock preserves cut-tings made to receive the foundation blocks and thus allows a reconstruction of the temple’s plan.
The main part of the temple (sekos) was split into two non-communicating rooms. The roof was decorated with colorful architectural elements.
The interior of the temple consists of a porch at either end and a long central part (the cella) divided into two rooms by a cross wall. The traditional reconstruction of the plan makes this cross wall a solid wall and provides access to the western room of the cella through the western door.
The seven standing columns of the Archaic temple are one of the most prominent landmarks of Corinth.
The Acrocorinth: The sanctuary of Demeter and Kore
Demeter and her daughter, Kore or Persephone, were worshiped in a large sanctuary on the northern slope of the Acrocorinth.
In the 4th c. B.C., a small theater was carved into the rock. Three small temples were also built in the Roman Period.
Odeum & theater of Ancient Corinth
The theater was a place in which dramatic and musical events were staged. In the roman period staged fighting was added.
The theater has several phases. The original structure was built late in the 5th c. B.C. and had permanent seats but only a wooden stage building.
This was supplemented with a new orchestra and stage structure in the Hellenistic period.
In later antiquity theatrical tastes changed and the orchestra was converted into a gladiatorial arena.
Ancient Corinth and Cristianity
Ancient Corinth is also important because is linked with apostle Paul’s or Apostle of the Nations. Paul lived and preached in Corinth. When you visit the ancient Corinth you can also see the famous Bema.
This was likely the tribunal were Paul was brought for judgment before the proconsul Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus. He was accused of illegal proselitism and they brought him in the tribunal or bèma.
Because of its position the bema was used to speak to the crowd. Not only the Ancient Corinth has a bema. In the ancient greek cities it was in fact common to meet in front to a Bema.
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Greece Mycenae. Treasury of Atreus: the Legendary Tomb of Agamemnon. The Tholos or ‘Beehive’ tomb dubbed the ‘Treasury of Atreus’ or the Tomb of Agamemnon is one of the most splendid monuments of Mycenaen architecture.
Let’s see something about it so you can appreciate more your visit.
This tomb is incredibly large and what makes it amazing is how it was made. It has been preserved down to our days, in fact it is just as it was originally made. Some details could go unnoticed but with a more detailed examination we understand the purpose.
This applies for example to the empty triangle above the entrance door. This triangle was used in case of earthquakes to keep the structure intact.
Another extraordinary detail that strikes our imagination is the stone block always placed above the entrance. This is in fact a single huge and very heavy block placed at a considerable height. One wonders how they got it. Maybe with rollers? In any case, it must not have been easy.
We understand the size of the Treasury of Atreus by comparing the size of the door with a person placed at the entrance. In this comparison, the person is tiny. Just think that when you go outside on top of the monument it seems to go up a hill. This becomes an observation point for the surrounding landscape.
Treasury of Atreus
The Treasury of Atreus was built between 1350 and 1250 BC, it consists of a domos or passage, stomion or entrance, tholos or vaulted chamber and a smaller side chamber.
Distinctive features of its construction are the use of megalithic elements in the entrance such as jambs and lintel and its carefully coated masonry.
The monumental facade was decorated with a variety of materials. Parts of the sculpted decorations are today in the British Museum in London and in the National Archeological Museum in Athens.
The tomb was found robbed, like all the tholos tombs, and there is no information on either the grave goods or the burials it once housed. It was never buried by earth and remained always visible, attracting the attention of ancient and later travellers.
Watch the following video! Then see what I described above about the Treasury of Atreus
The Treasury of Atreus is located very close to the archaeological site of the ruins of Mycenae. The visit to the Treasury of Atreus does not take long. Therefore it is easy to visit on the same day both the Treasury of Atreus and the ruins of ancient Mycenae with its attached museum.
In addition, the ticket you buy at the Treasury of Atreus is also valid for Mycenae. So don’t make the mistake of buying the same ticket twice!