Did you know? The most famous of the legends about the Tiber Island is that in 291 BC, during a plague epidemic in Rome, a galley sailed to Epidaurus, a Greek city sacred to Asclepius, most important healer-deity, with a commission of learned men to ask the god of medicine his help. In Epidaurus, during the propitiatory rites, a large snake left the temple of Asclepius and ran and hid in the Roman ship. Considering it a sign from the god, they sailed back to Rome. Once the commission returned to Rome, the snake left the ship and swam to the island where it disappeared, showing the Romans where to build a temple to Asclepius. Very soon the construction started and was inaugurated in 289. The collocation of the temple coincides with the one of the present S.Bartolomeo church. The medieval well, still close to the church’s altar, should coincide with the miraculous fount of which the temple was certainly supplied. The temple used to function as an actual hospital. Inscriptions testifying to miraculous healings, ex voto and dedications to the deity. The sick were healed by the properties of water. In remembrance of the miraculous origin of the fount, the island was shaped into a trireme ship with bow, stern and mainmast represented by an obelisk. In 997 emperor Otto III wanted to honor St. Adalbert of Prague, building a church dedicated to him on the ruins of the temple of Asclepius. When in 1180 the church welcomed the relics of St. Bartholomew, it was renamed San Bartolomeo. During the middle ages again the miraculous water became popular, but this time water was found polluted and unhealthy, making people fall sick and die. The well was permanently sealed with two iron bars, still visible to this day.
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