Ancient Epidavros is a beautiful farming and fishing village laid out on the site where the ancient Epidaurian capital once stood. The latter has been widely known since the pre-Hellenic Era.
The area is endowed with a beautiful natural harbor, while on the adjacent peninsula known as Nisi (the word signifies "island" in Greek) is sited the Small Ancient Theater of Epidavros, the so-called "Shell of the Saronic Gulf" which has hosted in recent years various cultural events, and in particular, the July Music Festival.
The settlement of New Epidavros is located 8 km off Ancient Epidavros. The landscape here is varied, as the village is laid out on rocky slopes, amid the ruins of a Venetian castle. At the foot of the slope a gorge of unique beauty is formed, known as the Gorge of Vothila, one of the most beautiful ravines in Greece. In the opposite direction, another slope is covered by a wonderful pinewood, its pine tress running down from Mt Akros.
It was at this place that the first National Assembly was held in December 1821, shortly after the Greeks had liberated themselves from the Ottoman rule. In the course of this assembly, blue and white were officially chosen as the colors of the Hellenic flag, while the Constitution of Epidavros, one of the most progressive constitutions at the time, was drafted.
The village spreads out towards the sea and ends in two naturally formed bays, one of which serves as a harbor to the area.
All this beauty, enhanced by the revival of ancient drama is a pole of attraction for every visitor. Every summer artists and political leaders disembark at the port of Ancient Epidavros to attend theatrical performances and to indulge afterwards in the delicacies of local tavernas.
The festival of Epidavros begun in 1954 with three performances of Eyripides’ Hippolytus. Since then, all extant tragedies, comedies and satirical plays have been staged. Although theatrical performances are regarded to be a means of entertainment, ancient drama can only be taught and presented in selected places, near sanctuaries.
Cult temples abounded in the area: the temples of Dionyssus, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hera, Maleata-Apollo, and of course the Temple of Asclepius where a cult statue in gold and ivory sculpted by Thrasymedes of Paros was erected. Above the throne of Asclepius, the sculptor depicted the achievements of Perseus and Vellerefontis, two of the greatest heroes of Argos. The same temple bears two of the very few inscribed descriptions pertaining to ancient Greek paintings created by Pafsias. One of them depicted Eros and the other one Methi (meaning drunkenness) drinking wine from a glass.