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
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).
Restoration work is scheduled to start after the completion of the
excavations of the theatre to allow for its study before submitting some restoration
proposals. In June 1995, four musical performances took place as experiments in
the theatre, with the collaboration of the Town Hall of Ancient Epidaurus and
the Ministries of Culture and Tourism.