Epidaurus – more than just a theatre

Our last day trip in the Peloponnese is Epidaurus (or Epidavros, or many other variations of the name for this UNESCO world heritage site).

We travel by public bus, so we are again at its mercy regarding the number of tour groups will be at the site when we arrive. The bus timetable forces us to be dropped off at the height of the midday sun and we won’t be picked up again until later on in the scorchio afternoon – a little concerning as we have heard that Epidaurus has very little shade.

The bus is barely half full when we leave Nafplio and, once it has finished weaving in and out of a number of small villages perched on the side of the mountains, only us and another couple remain. Only one coach is in the car park and there are barely a dozen cars, so we’re very hopeful of a quieter time than Mycenae.

We have been spoilt by scenery here in Greece, and Epidaurus is another archeological site in a truly stupendous location. It is surrounded by mountains, deep valleys and olive trees for miles around. Considering it is the height of summer, it is so green – spring here must be something else.

We hit the main attraction first, the theatre. Built in the 4th century BC it holds 14,000 and is still used for some concerts and Chloe gets to see the arena where her current read – The Oresteia – has been performed for many centuries. The acoustics are meant to be outstanding, they allow performers to be heard everywhere even when talking normally. However, our own attempts are not entirely successful, probably because of the wind.  The theatre itself is visually stunning, atmospheric and not at all busy, although it is the definition of a sun-trap.

With two hours to spare, we wander around the rest of the site. We see the ancient stadium (unfortunately, unlike Olympia, it was not possible to run a Stadia), the Gymnasion, a bath-house that the Romans invariably added and a lovely little museum. The site rivals Delphi as the best we’ve seen in Greece in terms of scenery but also genuinely interesting things to see.

Job done, all that was left was to drink a freezing-cold, luminous-yellow, lemon-flavoured slushy, find some shade and wait for our bus.

A great way to finish our time in the Peloponnese, although our sight-seeing wasn’t quite finished. We left Nafplio the next day and were treated to one of the best travel journeys of the whole holiday, climbing up mountains, vistas over coastal villages (including Ancient Epidauras) and a slow descent into the port of Galatas.

A suitable end to our time in this beautiful part of Greece.