Monday, May 04, 2015

Nafplion, Part 1: Epidauros

After the stop at the Athens Zoo, it was on to Nafplion, the first capital of the modern Greek state.

Here we are, during our first day in Nafplion, at the statue of Theodoros Kolokotronis, one of the heroes of the Greek revolution. Before Greek Independence Day (March 25), the kids learned in their kindergarten about the revolution and its heroes, and Benny has been particularly enamored with Kolokotronis.

The next stop was the Church of St. Spyridon, where another hero, Ioannis Kapodistrias, the first president of Greece, was assassinated. We even inspected the hole in the wall left by the bullet that missed him. After visiting that small church, we wandered around the alleys (see above), eventually making our way to the Archaeological Museum of Nafplion.

Afterwards, we stopped by a very nice park on the seaside.

And then had a pizza on the boardwalk. In the background you can see the island of Bourtzi, which hosts a Venetian castle. Unfortunately, the castle was closed for repairs, so we didn't take the boat over to the island.

On the hill in the background of the photo above, you can see another Venetian castle, the large Palamidi Castle, which overlooks the city.

In the afternoon, we headed over to the ancient site of Epidauros. On the way, we stopped by what is claimed to be the oldest surviving bridge in the world, built by the Mycenaeans about 1200 BC.

And here we are exploring the ancient site of Epidauros, which was a cult site for the worship of Asclepius, the healer god, from at least the 6th c. BC.

Epidauros was, in fact, the most famous healing center in the ancient world. There was a large, long, rectangular building called the enkoimeteria, i.e., the sleeping hall. Those who were sick would sleep in this hall, and the Asclepius would appear to them in their dreams to advise them of their course of treatment. The museum at the site even displayed some of the surgical instruments that doctors of that time used there. The kids had fun pretending to be asleep on the benches that have been preserved in the hall.

The site was also connected with games held in honor of Asclepius. In the background of the photo above is the race track. You can discern the posts demarcating the runners' lanes.

Here's Dami in front of a section of the sleeping hall.

Here we are walking over to the famous theatre. Dami is trying on Pelagia's sunglasses.

And here's the theater. The kids ran up to the top. Here's Phoebe running back down again.

We spent quite a long time in the theatre testing out the acoustics, which were truly astonishing. In the photo above, you can barely see the kids all the way at the top of the theatre on the opposite side. Despite the distance, we could hear each other perfectly clearly. As for the people standing at the center of the stage, you could even hear them snap their fingers.

The kids ran back and forth to the other side to test out the sound, as well as up and down. They had an excellent workout. They say that the acoustics are achieved both by the design as well as by the materials used in construction (limestone, marble, etc.).

Stay tuned for more posts from the trip.

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