Dear Steemit friends :
Did you know that there are more ancient Roman ruins in Turkey than there are in Italy?
In our travels around Turkey thus far, we've had the pleasure of visiting some of the worlds greatest historic sites, taking us back to the prime of the bygone ancient civilisations. Today, these ruins are littered all over Turkey, reminding us that Turkey was once a pivotal region for empires ruling Asian Minor.
Perhaps one of the most amazing ancient ruins that we've seen so far is Ephesus, the ancient city cited in the bible's Book of Revelation. It's ruins are so well preserved that walking amongst them, little imagination is needed to reconstruct them in their past glory.
Central to almost all significant settlements are the Theatres which themselves command presence because of their sheer scale and utility. The theatre at Ephesus was a well preserved and a classic example of the ancient amphitheatre. A very large, building leaning on a side of a hill, built on higher ground, and it's size, a league of it's own.
Another ancient city ruin we visited was Hierapolis, famous for its massive necropolis and not to forget the Antique Pools which Cleopatra herself once bathed in. Hierapolis was built beside the famous Pamukkale mineral springs and "Cotton Castles". As one of the largest ancient cities, it too has an impressive Theatre, one which remains very much intact and situated against a hill at the highest point of the city. The theatre grants magnificent views of the entire valley below the White Travertine Terraces as well as the entire city of Hierapolis.
Today, we'll be taking a visit to two ancient ruins near Antalya, first up, Aspendos.
Aspendos is an ancient town located about 40km east of the modern city of Antalya. Perhaps the most famous of it's ancient monuments is the theatre, considered the best-preserved theatre of antiquity.
Most hotels will have day trip excursions here, you only have to enquire and agree to a price. I was very lucky to find a taxi driver offering a set price to take me there. He was even happy to wait in the car park whilst I went inside. This method of transport is probably the most straight forward if a tad more expensive.
From this angle, the theatre almost looks like a regular building. Most other ancient theatres I've visited do not have such a tall skene building. I certainly wasn't expecting such a large round structure on the other side of it.
To enter the theatre, there is a side entrance which leads into this dark tunnel. On the other side, the stage area.
As soon as you come out of the Tunnel, this is the exact view you get. Pretty amazing right!?
This must be the largest Skene I've ever seen. It consists of a facade and a proscenium. The facade is two tiered and visually divided into two levels. There also used to be a wooden roof on top.
There are five doorways which give entrance inside the proscenium, the largest of which was in the middle and marked by the stone steps.
At the top of the auditorium, there is a colonnade which was primarily used to shade the spectators.
You can also see the auditorium is divided into an upper level and lower level by a horizontal diazoma.
This is another view of the skene building from the upper level of the auditorium.
This is the arcade supported by the colonnade at the top level of the auditorium. It curves all the way round the entire horseshoe shape of the auditorium.
Sitting right at the top of the auditorium, this is the view you can expect of performances. Here you can see just how well preserved the theatre is. The skene building is almost entirely intact.
As you can see, the building has the typical features of a Greek theatre, the horseshoe shape of the auditorium, and it's back resting on the hillside. However, the theatre was actually building in the 2nd century AD under the rule of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, thus, the skene building gives it's Roman heritage away.
Interestingly, the architect of the theatre is known to be Zeno - a Greek architect who was born in Aspendos. He is one of the few architects known for ancient ruins.
There is supposedly a story behind the construction of the theatre.
A competition was setup by the ruler of Aspendos to marry his daughter. The winner must build something which contributes most to the cities' prosperity. Of the two finalists, one was the architect of this theatre, and the other was responsible for building the systems of canals and aqueducts which supplied Aspendos with water.
At first, the ruler was more impressed with the canals and aqueducts, but then upon visiting the theatre, he stood in this exact spot and heard a whisper in his ear.
"Your daughter will be mine"
It was the builder of the theatre and he was in fact down at the scene of the theatre. Impressed by the amazing acoustics of the theatre, the ruler awarded his daughter to the architect of the theatre. Of course, the wedding ceremony was also held here too.
After spending some time in Aspendos, it was time to head to the next destination of the day, and half way back towards Antalya to another ancient city named Perge
This ancient city was once a flourishing city in Pamphylia. One of the four great cities of Pamphylia, the other three being Sillyon, Aspendos and Side.
Most of the ruins which survive to this day date back to the Roman period which began around 188 BC. It was under the Roman imperial rule that Perge flourised.
Perge was also visited by St. Paul as cited in the bible's Acts of the Apostles. He visited the city twice as a missionary and helped spread the influence of Christianity in the region.
Aside from St. Paul, another notable person who lived in Perge was Apollonius - a student of Archimedes and the author of a series of books which describe what we know today as Conic sections.
Perge also had it's own theatre, as you can see the city had no clear boundaries, and this was in-fact by design. There was no fortifications of the city and thus, Alexander the Great was able to conquer the city with little to no resistance.
The theatre is the first major landmark you will see as you come to the site. However, it's condition is much poorer than the theatre at Aspendos and as a result, is going through a lengthy restoration process that bars anyone from visiting or seeing it from the inside.
After purchasing the entrance tickets, you are led a long a long path to the ruins. Along this park, you can see a lot of the pieces of the buildings being collected and organised as they are unearthed. Surprisingly, there were no people at all. It was as if the city was haunted and I was the only person that didn't know..
Most of the surviving ruins are from the Roman period although some signs suggest that some were from the Hellenistic period.
This is the path that leads into the city. On the left, the remnants of the Roman city gates doubling up as the "main entrance".
This is the Roman city gates. To the right of the picture, are where the baths would have been
Today, the baths lie almost completely in ruin. It's hard to make out what it would have looked like from the scattered rocks.
In the distance, you can see one of the two remaining cylindrical Hellenistic towers left in partial standing. To the right of it, there was another one being restored.
Behind the two Hellenistic towers, there is another cylindrical area which leads to the street crossings and colonnade.
This is the long colonnade, some of the pillars are still standing.
This is the Agora. Around this area, the pillars seem to be more intact, so perfect for some more photography..
I realised after walking around for about an hour that the whole area is actually very expansive. A walk further along the colonnade would take me to the necropolis. If you remember before, I mentioned there was absolutely nobody else here, I now understood why. There was little to no shade, and during the mid afternoon, it was extremely hot.
To my surprise.. on my way back, I found this little turtle just hanging out in the middle of the path.
There are also little lizards and newts everywhere you look.
The route back out of the city leads us to the Stadium. It's not especially tall but it is very long. So long in fact, that it could seat up to 12,000 people in it's heyday. I managed to wander into the stadium through one of it's many archways which supported the seating. Surprisingly, most of them are still intact.
A closer look at Perge's theatre. Sadly, it was out of bounds, but you can clearly see it's shape is still mostly there.
Just a further walk up this route and we're back at the entrance.
Not sure if this was the guard dog, or just a stray, but it was sitting confidently in the shade by the entrance/exit gates looking very cute!
As we drove away, I was so surprised to see a family of ducks cross the road! It was so adorable!
A final look at the Perge theatre, and I hope if I return, I will get to see inside it next time!
Please check out my video to see some more footage of today's visits!
And that concludes are expedition to Aspendos and Perge. I always thought that structures built over 2000 years would now look like arbitrary rocks scattered all over the floor. In the case of Perge, a lot of it was, however Aspendos was incredibly tidy and very well looked after. It's really amazing to see the scale of it in person, climbing from the bottom to the top, and then walking a long the arcade in the colonnade. The skene building was a formidable site to see, especially from the scene looking up. These structures were built prior to any of the technological machinery we have today, and shows just how advanced these ancient civilisations really were in terms of engineering, mathematics, and architecture.
Hope you enjoyed the tour and see you in the next post!
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