The Epidaurus Sacred Road
The Epidaurus Road connected the ancient city of Epidaurus with the sacred temple of Asclepius and it was 15 km long. On the route there was an inscription dating back to the 3rd century BC and informed the passersby, indicating:
“ΑΔΕ ΟΔΟΣ ΕΙΣ ΙΑΡΟΝ ΚΛΕΙΝΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ Ω ΠΑΡΙΟΝΤΕΣ”
“Travelers, this road leads to the Sanctuary of the God of healing.”
With the spread of Asclepius’s fame, the road was very busy during the 5th century BC. However, its development reached its climax in the 4th and 5th century BC and was preserved during the Hellenistic and Roman times. However, in addition to being the pilgrims’ passage, the road also served for the transfer of merchandise.
During the celebrations of Asclepius every four years, the Epidaurus road was transformed into a sacred road, where scenes of majesty, reverence, faith and emotion unfold. A great procession started from the city of Ancient Epidaurus and went up to the Sanctuary of Asclepius, chanting hymns and songs. To this procession the rulers preceded, then the nobles, the priests, as well as the envoys of the colonies and other cities followed. They were all dressed in white and had wreaths of laurel or olive-tree on their heads. The end of the procession was followed by the animals to be sacrificed, the pilgrims, those who begged for healing, and those with pledges for their healing towards god Asclepius.
Αccording to some sources, in the middle of the route, in the area of Irnithio, near the current location of the church of Saint Andrew, there was a memorial to the beloved Queen of Epidaurus, Irnithus, daughter of the King of Argos and wife of the King of Epidaurus, Diephontes . The procession passed through the area of Irnithio, stopped to pay homage to the memorial, and then continued to the Sanctuary of Asclepius, where in an atmosphere of intense religious devoutness, through the Propylea, it entered the sacred grove with hordes of pilgrims awaiting. Afterwards, sacrifices, sports games and other events took place.