Asklepieion

The Asklepieion was erected during the first half of the 3rd century B.C. Earthquakes played a significant role in both its formation and in its development. An earthquake in 155 B.C. was the reason for significant changes that were made, while the earthquake in 554 A.D. was the final blow for the sacred structure, which was crushed by tons of silt.

By this time the Asklepieion had already reached a period of decline because Christianity (which by this time prevailed) was in fierce conflict with the remnants of "idolatry". Thus the destruction of Asklepieion by natural causes was final and decisive and no attempt was made to reconstruct it.

On the first terrace a "stoa" (portico) in the shape of a "Π" (Pi) enclosed it on three sides, leaving only the south side exposed. To the east was a more recent complex of Roman Thermes (Baths) (3rd Century A.D.), with porticoes, living quarters for the patients and their families and a plateia (square) with fountains (artistic taps) completing the picture. It is possible that the structures on the first terrace also housed the medical school.

There used to be statues in niches on the restored columns that supported the second terrace. What has remained is a stone representation of the god Pan to the left of the staircase leading to the second terrace.

On the second terrace one can see the ruins of a large altar dedicated to the Cyparissian Apollo, which is also the oldest structure in the Asklepieion. The altar was built during the 4th Century B.C., but nothing has remained of its sculptured adornments, which have been attributed to the sons of Praxiteles.

To the left and to the right of the altar one can discern the ruins of two smaller temples, while to the west one can see the restored columns of the Ionian Temple of Apollo dating back to the 2nd Century B.C.

The remains of another structure to the south of the altar may possibly be the "avato", an area where the patients waited for Asklepieion to appear in their dreams and to cure them.

On the third and highest terrace one can see the great Doric Temple of Asklepieion (2nd Century B.C.); that is, what has remained of it. It seems that this temple was also surrounded by a "Π" -shaped portico, similar to the one on the first terrace.
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