Turkish Odyssey
Turkey Mediterranean Region

Contents
of this Page

Aksu (Cestrus River)

Perge

. Apollonius of Perge

. History of Perge

. The Site

Koprucay (Eurymedon River)

Aspendus

. History of Aspendus

. The Site

Side

. History of Side

. The Site

Manavgat (Melas) River

Oymapinar Dam

Alanya (Coracesion)

. History of Alanya

. The Site

Mediterranean Region of Turkey Part 3
Perge - Aspendus - Side - Alanya

   

AKSU (CESTRUS RIVER)

 

It is 162 km / 100 miles long and originates from Akdag (2,276 m / 7,465 ft) near Isparta. Because of its sharp descent the water is not clear and deposits a great amount of alluviums. The river was navigable in the past.

PERGE

Perge is the best example of a complete Roman city in the Pamphylian plain. It developed from a Hellenistic hilltop settlement to a proper Roman city.

Apollonius of Perge (3C-2C BC)

Anatolian mathematician of the 3C and 2C BC, was known as the Great Geometer. In his Conics, an investigation of the mathematical properties of Conic Sections, Apollonius introduced the terms Ellipse, Hyperbola and Parabola. He was also an important founder of ancient mathematical astronomy, which applied geometric models to planetary theory.

History of Perge

According to ancient tradition the city, like Aspendus, was founded by Mopsus and Calchas in the 13C BC. Nevertheless, Perge did not appear in history until the 4C BC. Because the city was not fortified at the time of Alexander the Great, Perge willingly opened its doors to him. In the Hellenistic period Perge enjoyed rights of minting and considerable freedom under the Pergamene kings. The dominant motif used in art and on coins was Artemis of Perge. Artemis was associated with the Virgin Mary in the Christian period and worshipping her continued. Perge flourished and expanded in the Roman Imperial period during the first three centuries AD.

St. Paul and Barnabas visited Perge on their first journey on the way to and from Antioch. By looking at the existence of basilicas in Perge it could easily be concluded that Perge might have played an important role in the spreading of Christianity.

After the Roman period Perge remained inhabited by the Byzantines until the Seljuks when it was gradually abandoned.

The Site

The Theater was originally a Hellenistic style theater with a horseshoe-shaped orchestra, but later, especially with the construction of the stage building in the 2C AD, the style was modified to Roman. The seating capacity was 14,000. At the base of the building, running around the stage area, there were many reliefs showing scenes from the life of Dionysus or river-god, Cestrus. By the outer facade of the stage building there was a 12-meter-high (40 ft) nymphaeum whose five fountain niches have survived. The theater was probably combined with the nymphaeum.

The Stadium was built in the 2C AD, and is one of the best preserved in Anatolia. Others are in Aphrodisias and Laodicea. The 30 diagonally placed barrel-vaulted rooms under the rows of seats were used partly for access and partly as shops. The stadium seated approximately 12,000 spectators.

Access to the city was through the Roman gate which was located on the 4C AD outer wall. The Baths Complex, located to the west of the courtyard before the Hellenistic gateway, is preceded by a propylon. The typical succession of three rooms is notable, frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium. Their basins, floors and walls were covered with marble. Statues which decorated the rooms are exhibited in the archeological museum in Antalya. Perge did not have marble quarries, all the marble was brought by sea mostly from Marmara Island in the Marmara Sea.

The Hellenistic gateway and walls are the only pre-Roman structures, 3C BC. The gateway consists of two round towers, which are a characteristic of the town and a horseshoe-shaped courtyard. These imposing twin towers were "updated" by Plancia Magna (the daughter of the Governor of Bithynia, chief priestess of Artemis and a benefactress of the city) in the beginning of the 2C AD. She also commissioned a gateway with three doorways behind the courtyard in the direction of the colonnaded street. She was by no means the first to decoratively enhance the main gate of a city and its environs. What she accomplished there may have stood as a fine example of improvement to all the aristocrats and officials of the later Empire. To enter the city the visitor would pass from the large courtyard into the horseshoe shape of the smaller one, decorated with statues of gods and of founders or legendary heroes of Perge. It is important to realize that such statues were not simply decorative, but were used to express the heroic past of a city and to proudly salute its intellectual and physical achievements - scholars, gymnasts, heroes, lawyers, emperors and benefactors.

The Colonnaded Street was a 20-meter-wide (65 ft) street lined on both sides with shops fronted by a wide, roofed colonnade. It was flanked by statues of prominent citizens. An unusual feature of this city was the water canal lying in the middle of the street. It was not for drinking nor draining but to provide a delight to the senses by cooling the atmosphere during hot summers, giving a relaxing sound and reflecting sunlight on its moving water.

Its marble paving still shows the ruts of wagon-wheels. To the east of the street there are a few columns decorated with some reliefs on their tops. These reliefs are Apollo, Artemis with her bow and arrows, and a male figure in his toga pouring a libation. The colonnaded street stretches from the Hellenistic gate to the Nymphaeum and intersects with the other main street. The Agora of Perge is a small symmetrical rectangle surrounded by colonnades of shops. It was built when the city was enlarged in the 4C AD. There is a round structure in the middle of the agora either dedicated to Hermes, god of merchants or Tyche, goddess of fortune. There are still some signs of shops. Note a butcher's sign with a hook and a knife at the northeast corner of the agora.

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The Hellenistic Gateway, 3C BC, Perge
 
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Water Canal Stretching through the Colonnaded Street to the Nymphaeum, Perge





 
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KOPRUCAY (EURYMEDON RIVER)

 
   
   
It is 184 km / 114 miles long and originates from the small rivers out of the southeast of Lake Egirdir. It passes through the Koprulu Canyon (14 km / 8 miles) and flows into the Bay of Antalya. There are 2 Roman bridges on the river. In ancient times the Eurymedon was navigable as far as the city of Aspendus.  
 
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ASPENDUS

 
   
   
Aspendus was a major port city in the Roman period with the navigable river of Koprucay. Visitors usually only see the theater on the hillside, however the aqueduct is also recommended.

History of Aspendus

According to ancient tradition the city was founded by Mopsus in the 13C BC. In the 6C BC the Lydian King Croesus took Aspendus. After Cyrus's victory over Croesus in the same century the city became Persian. In the 5C BC Aspendus minted its own silver coins. Alexander the Great took over from the Persians in the 4C BC. In the Roman period Aspendus entered into good relations with Rome.

The Site

Aspendus was founded on a hilltop near the Eurymedon river and it later spread down to the plain. The remains on the hilltop have not been systematically excavated. There are remains of an agora, a basilica, a market hall with shops and a nymphaeum on the hilltop. Water was brought to the city through a marvelous aqueduct, remains of which can be seen from the road further away from the theater. Remains of two water towers belonging to the aqueduct can still be seen. The aqueduct was the most impressive building after the theater.

Aspendus Theater is one of the largest ancient buildings in Anatolia and may well be accepted as the best preserved theater of antiquity. It was built by a local architect Xenon during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (2C AD). According to an inscription, it was a gift from the two brothers, Curtius Crispinus and Curtius Auspicatus, who dedicated this monument to the gods of the country and to the Imperial House.

The theater's capacity is estimated to have been 20,000 people. The cavea has a diameter of 95 m / 313 ft and a height of 30 m / 98 ft. The stage building was three stories high. The uppermost facade was used to support an awning-like roof that projected out over the stage, erected more for its acoustical effect than for the shade it provided. The lower levels of the facade were decorated with a double colonnade, ten pairs of columns on each level, Ionic capitals below and Corinthian above. The central four columns on the upper level were surmounted by a pediment with a relief of Dionysus. Other panels were also decorated with many statues, portrait busts and reliefs. The doors under the stage building provided access to the orchestra for animals. The paradoi, unlike Hellenistic theaters, are roofed and parallel to the auditorium. The first row of the auditorium had special seats reserved for high officials.

The fact that the stage building is as high as the upper end of the colonnaded arcade surmounting the auditorium proves that it is a Roman theater. This is because the skene and auditorium is one complex and not separate constructions as in the Hellenistic style.

In the 13C during the Seljuk period the theater was restored to be a royal caravansary for the sultans who resided there on the way to their winter residences in Alanya. Red zigzag paintings are decorations from that period. There is a small museum to the left of the entrance exhibiting theater entrance tickets, coins and masks.

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A water tower of Roman Aqueduct, Aspendus
 
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Roman Theater, 2C AD, Aspendus
 
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SIDE

 
   
   
 

Side is located on a peninsula penetrating into the Mediterranean. It was one of the important civilizations and has become one of Turkey’s major holiday centers.

History of the City

Side was founded by Aeolians of the Aegean region. The history of the town extends back to the 7C BC. "Side" meant "pomegranate" in the local language. Until the Roman Imperial period, pomegranate was the symbol used on the coins of Side. In the two centuries following Alexander the Great, Side was dominated usually by the Seleucids of Syria and less often by the Ptolemy of Egypt.

The peak period of the city of Side started around 2C BC when it had established and maintained good relations with the Roman Empire. This period continued until the 3C AD. The most impressive of the structures to be seen in town had been constructed during those times.

Side lost its prominence during the 4C AD, however it prospered as a clerical center in the 5C AD. With earthquakes, Christian zealots and Arab raids, by the 10C AD, the site was completely abandoned, left to be buried.

The last massive settlement to Side has been in 1895 when Turkish immigrants from Crete were settled in the town. This settlement is the nucleus of the present town. But the old and the new are insolubly merged and intertwined in Side.

The Site

Entrance to the site is from among the well preserved city walls and through the main gate of the ancient city. But the gate itself has been damaged badly. After the main gate, starts the colonnaded street. The modern road follows exactly the course of the ancient avenue, although the marble columns that were once used do not exist anymore. A few broken stubs can be seen near the old Roman baths.

The colonnaded street reaches first to the agora and to the theater. It was one arm of the two avenues of the Corinthian style. At the left side of the avenue are the remains of a Byzantine Basilica.

The remains of a public bath have been restored and now serve as the Museum. This building is situated before the agora, on the right side of the street. At the Museum, Roman period statues and sarcophagi are on display. The remains of the agora can be seen on the left side. This was also the place where pirates sold slaves.

After the agora comes the theater with remains of a monumental gate and a fountain at the entrance. The fountain has been restored. The present remains of the theater date from the 2C AD. The skene of the theater is in a bad state. The theater had a seating capacity of 15,000 people and was used in the late Roman period for gladiator fights as well. The theater was used as an open air church in the 5-6C AD. Near the theater was the Temple of Dionysus of the early Roman period.

The colonnaded avenue which starts at the gate and leads up to the theater used to extend on the other side, up to the harbor. This part of the avenue is now beneath the present town of Side. Near the harbor there are two temples side by side. One of these has been dedicated to Apollo and the other to Artemis. 6 columns of the Apollo Temple have been restored and re-erected. In front of the temples was a Byzantine Basilica.

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Theater, Side
 
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Apollo Temple, Side
 
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MANAVGAT (MELAS) RIVER

 
   
   
It is 93 km / 58 miles long and originates from Seytan Dag (2,120 m / 6,954 ft). It has two dams; Oymapinar and Manavgat which has not been finished yet.  
 
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OYMAPINAR DAM

 
   
   
Location It is 12 km / 7.5 miles to the north of Manavgat waterfalls
Surface area 4.7 km2 / 1.8 sq miles
Depth 156 m / 512 ft
Altitude 185 m / 607 ft
Formation Artificial dam
Water Freshwater
Water capacity 300 million cubic meters / 392 million cubic yards


When it was built in 1984, it was the 3rd biggest dam in Turkey, but today it is in the 5th place. It has four turbines which are located underground and each of them has a capacity of 135 megawatts per hour. Total capacity is 540 megawatts. 45% of the electricity produced there is used in the Seydisehir Aluminum Complex.

 
 
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ALANYA (CORACESION)

 
   
   
Alanya is the last major resort on the Turkish riviera and reached by a scenic road turning north toward the Taurus Mountains and Konya through banana plantations. Alanya's pride is its sandy beaches and the great fortress that crowns it.

Alanya has grown considerably in the past 20 years. New hotels and apartment blocks line the broad, elegant boulevards running along the sandy beaches stretching on either side of the town. During summer the population nearly doubles and the town turns into a lively colony of predominantly foreign tourists.

History of Alanya

The town did not play an important role in antiquity. At the end of the 2C BC, notorious pirate ruler Diodotus Tryphon made it a base for his slaving activities. In 67 BC Pompey conducted a war on behalf of Rome against piracy on the Mediterranean coast of Anatolia. He completely destroyed the pirate fleet in a naval battle. Mark Antony presented Coracesion as a wedding gift to Cleopatra. A flight of brick stairs descending the cliffs is said to have been used by Cleopatra to go down for her morning swim. After the Romans and Byzantines Cilician kings ruled the city for about 150 years. Later the city was ruled by Seljuks. In the Seljuk period the town was renamed as Alaiye to honor the conqueror, and shortly after became the winter residence of the Seljuk sultans. Before the republic period the city was dominated by Ottomans.

The Site

The fortress is 117 m / 384 ft above the sea with medieval walls running 6 km / 3.7 miles around the summit. It was originally established as a smaller pirate fortress on the protected peninsula. It was conquered and destroyed by Pompey in 67 BC. Alaattin Keykubat captured the fort after a long siege and made Alanya an important naval base. Today's fine fortifications were built then. Church of St. George is a 6C AD Byzantine building. The platform pinned into the cliff at the edge of the citadel is said to have been the place from where condemned prisoners were hurled to their death.

The enormous dockyards (Tersane) and a defense tower, Kizil Kule (Red Tower) at the harbor contributed to the town's role as a naval base.

Among many caves the most famous is Damlatas (drop stone) on the western edge of the peninsula. It features an immense cavern with enormous stalactites and stalagmites that slowly continue to grow.

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Sandy beaches of Alanya
 
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Contents
of this Page

Aksu (Cestrus River)

Perge

. Apollonius of Perge

. History of Perge

. The Site

Koprucay (Eurymedon River)

Aspendus

. History of Aspendus

. The Site

Side

. History of Side

. The Site

Manavgat (Melas) River

Oymapinar Dam

Alanya (Coracesion)

. History of Alanya

. The Site