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The Sanctuary of Asclepius

Situated just to the west of the “Dionysos Theatre”, you will find the remains of the “Sanctuary of Asklepios”, which was dedicated to the God of Medicine, Asclepius. According to legend, Asclepius was born a mortal, but was given immortality after his death as the “constellation of Ophiuchus”.

Sanctuary of Asclepius under the Acropolis

As with the “Stoa of Eumenes”, it was built by Eumenes II, in the 2nd Century B.C. This stoa was inspiring in size, measuring 163 meters (535 ft) in length, and was built around a sacred spring. On the terrace you will come across the ruins of the Asklepeion, which contained two sanctuaries from different eras.

A 50 meter (164 ft) Doric gallery stands at the face of the rock. It was here that patients would sleep, and have dreams in which the God would reveal what form of therapy or medication they should follow. Next to the gallery was a circular temple, known as a “Tholos”, which housed the sacred spring. It was here at this spring that the patients would purify themselves in the water.

Prominent remains of a Byzantine church (or Basilica) have been uncovered at this site, which can be attributed to the Saints of Cosmas and Damian, who were two Christian doctors of Arabic origin This is seen by many as a sign, that while replacing the old Gods, the new religious beliefs was one that maintained the medical profession of the sanctuary.

Image by Tomisti (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons