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Sanctuary of Asklepios in Athens

Sanctuary of Asklepios

<Location>Theatre of Dionysos Site, Athens, Attica, Greece

To the West of the Theatre of Dionysos, there was an important sanctuary of Asklepios. Asklepios was a god of the health and cure. Many people seeking for the cure flocked here.

Sanctuary of Asklepios
When I visited here in 2005, a large scale restoration work was going on. They seemed to reconstruct some part of the sanctuary, including the temple, using new materials. Three columns seen in the first photo looked completely new.
The cult of Asklepios, originally from Epidauros in Argolis (of the Peloponnese peninsula) to Athens is dated to sometime after 429 BC, when there was an outblake of plague. This temple was first constructed by an Athenian citizen Telemachos of Acharnai deme, who also said to have brought a statue of Dionysos from Epidauros. Before that date, there was a cult activity related to water. The original wooden temple of Telemachos was replaced by the stone one in the fourth century BC, but this latter was badly damaged by an earthquake and was reconstructed within the same century. Some inscriptions tell us that it was restored again around the middle of the first century.
The cult of Asklepios declined in late Antiquity, but in this same place, the cult of Christian saints of health and healing, Sts. Kosmas and Damianos (Aghioi Anargyroi), suceeded the pagan precedent, as can be known from the construction of a church in the fifth or sixth century.

Sanctuary of Asklepios
In the photos right and below are the sanctuary shot from above, from the acropolis. The one right is the eastern part, and the one below is the western part of the sanctuary.
Sanctuary of Asklepios Sanctuary of Asklepios

The photo right was shot in 2002, when the work has not yet started. The rectangular base in the right middle is the temple, which in 2005 was covered with scaffoldings.

The numerous votive offerings found here are now exhibited in the New Acropolis Museum.


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