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Theatre of Epidaurus


On the headland called "Nesi" at Palaia Epidaurus, the theatre of the ancient city is quite well-preserved, in the shape it acquired during the latter years of its function. Apart from a few rows of seats, the cavea is made of limestone with poros staircases.
Until now, nine cunei with eighteen rows of seats have been excavated, which originally could accomodate about 2000 spectators. All the benches and thrones of the theatre carry inscriptions with the names of the donors while implying a direct relationship of the monument with the cult of Dionysos.
From the inscriptions on the monument it is deduced that it was constructed in sections, starting at the middle of the 4th century B.C. and continuing into the Hellenistic period. There may have been an earlier, simpler form of the theatre. During the Roman period, the orchestra bacame semi-circular with the erection of a stage nearer to the cavea, of which the lower part has survived until now. Benches from the cavea have been used for the construction of the city-wall, situated on the top of the second hill of the headland.
The theatre of the city of Epidaurus was discovered in 1970. The excavations began in 1972 by the then director of the Ephorate, Mrs E. Deilaki, and lasted a few months, bringing to light most of the monument. A second, restricted investigation was carried out in 1989, without entirely revealing it. For the required study, the protection and promotion of the theatre, as well as for the consolidation and restoration of the monument, supplementary excavations have been scheduled. Once the required works are in progress, the monument protected and the safety of its visitors assured, the Town Hall of Ancient Epidaurus has the intention to institute a yearly music festival. It will bring to life this small theatre which had been in use for centuries along with the larger and more famous one at the Sanctuary of Asklepios (Lygourio).

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