32km (20 miles) E of Nafplion; 63km (39 miles) S of Corinth
Just as the stadium at Olympia brings out the sprinter in many visitors, the Theater at Epidaurus, one of the most impressive sights in Greece, tempts many to step stage center to recite poetry or burst into song. One of the best-preserved classical Greek theaters in the world, Epidaurus, probably built in the 4th century, is a magnificent arrangement of 14,000 limestone seats set into a hillside. Pausanias, the 2nd-century-A.D. Greek traveler and chronicler, commented, “Who can begin to rival. . .the beauty and composition?” Or, he might have added, the acoustics? They are so perfect that a whisper onstage can be heard at the last row of seats, as demonstrated at productions of the summertime Hellenic Festival. Unlike so many ancient buildings, including almost everything at the Sanctuary of Asclepius, the theater was not pillaged for building blocks in antiquity. As a result, it is astonishingly well preserved; restorations have been both minimal and tactful. Some say that the theater's architect was Polykleitos, a native of nearby Argos, who gained fame as a sculptor and quite probably designed Epidaurus's round tholos. To the ancients, Epidaurus was best known for the Sanctuary of Asklepios, a healing center that featured such remedies as dream interpretation and the flickering caress of serpent tongues. Many of those who came here did so in hopes of a cure—or to give thanks for one.
The village of Palea Epidaurus, a beach resort 10km (6 miles) from Epidaurus, is confusingly sometimes signposted ANCIENT EPIDAURUS; the theater and sanctuary are poorly signposted, but there are some road signs saying ANCIENT THEATER.
To confuse things further, Palea Epidaurus has its own small theater and festival. If you want a swim, Palea Epidaurus is the nearest beach—but it is often quite crowded.