An enormous stone clam-shell with superb acoustics and elegant and symmetrical proportions, which were extolled already in the second century AD by the traveller Pausanias. This means that those who flocked to the Theatre of the Asklepieion of Epidavros were well aware of the privilege of being there, as is exactly the case with modern audiences, after the revival of performances there in 1954.
The theatre is part of the building complex of the Asklepieion and was directly linked with the cult of Asklepios. It was built on a slope of Mount Kynortion, in the mid-fourth century BC, to designs by the architect was Polykleitos. It functioned until at least the third century AD, hosting theatrical and musical events.
The monument comprises a circular orchestra, where the chorus and the actors performed, the long narrow skene building and the cavea with the seats (edolia) for spectators. In the orchestra there was an altar of the god Dionysos, whose cult gave birth to drama (tragedy and comedy). At the sides of the skene were two large impressive porticoes.
The cavea was constructed of local grey and red limestone. Its capacity of 8,000 spectators initially was increased to 13,000-14,000 when the upper sector was added in the second century BC. The two sectors are separated by a paved diazoma, while radiating stairways divided it into cunei.
The monument ranked first in a special study of the acoustics of the ancient theatres. The exceptional acoustics are due to its planning, in order to ensure that what was said in the orchestra could be heard clearly by members of the audience in the uppermost tiers. Visible, despite the accumulation of fill over the centuries, the monument was revealed in its entirety during excavations (1881-1883). Extensive conservation and restoration works were carried out before it was opened to the public.