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Aspendos

Aspendos

History and places to visit in Aspendos

Location​

The ancient city of Aspendos is situated almost in the middle of Antalya-Alanya highway, and 4 km. from this highway. The place where the city was founded is near Köprüçay (Eurymedon). Owing to this stream which was used as a canal in the ancient age, the ships were able to reach the city from the sea. The city is today 15 km. from the sea. Aspendos became famous with its theater which has survived to our day fairly undamaged. This structure with an extraordinarily perfect acoustics hosts every year local and international festivals and concerts.

History

Aspendos city is supposed to be founded by the Argos immigrants and the king Mopsos who led them. In an inscription dating back to 8. century B.C. and having statements in two languages, which was found during the excavations at Karatepe site in Eastern Kilikia, the names of Mopsos and the city were mentioned as “Muksus” and “Asitawa(n)da”, respectively. The name of the city appears as “Estwediyas” on old Aspendos coins (4. century B.C.) As a result, it is understood that the first immigrants came to Pamphylia and Aspendos, after the Troia wars.


City walls and gates

An important part of the walls surrounding the city of Aspendos vanished. Only three of the gates of the citadel could be determined. The gates at the northern, southern and eastern sides. Where the wall structure may be best examined is the section near the northern gate of the city.

Agora

It is located on the plain part of the hill, which is the larger one among the two hills on which the city was founded. There are public buildings around the wide square. There is a shopping centre on the west, basilica on the east and bouleuterion and nymphaion on the north of it.

Basilica

We believe it would be more appropriate to call this magnificent structure with a length of 105 m as “commercial palace”. It is formed by a longitudinal main place and two long galleriesThese three places are separated from one another by series of columns. It is understood that the main place had a higher ceiling. It is also understood that the gallery located to the east of the building had a lower floor due to the differences in height. The arched openings here can be clearly seen from the theater hill on the east.

The additional section of basilica, where public works were performed

It is in a fairly good state. Its dimension are 20 x 25 m, and it is 15 m. high. The wall thickness is 2m., and it is decorated with niches. It is understood that it was surrounded by columns. In this building appended to the basilica from the northern side, the public works were performed. With a main entrance located on its north side, the building has which provide entry to the basilica on the south side. The presence of the windows on the walls gives the impression that the building had two floors.

Shopping Centre

It is located to the west of Agora, on a place slightly higher than the courtyard level. It is formed by a series of magnificent shops with a stoa in front of them. These shops are two floored. Their total length is 70 m.

Bouleuterion

Situated to the north of agora, this building was covered with a roof, and one of its sides was round. It has the dimensions 38x30m. There is no sitting place. There was probably wooden sitting desks. The building dates back to 2. century.

Nymphaion

With a height of 15 m. and width of 37m., this building is formed by five lines of niches arranged on top of one another. The central niche is slightly larger there is a gate. It is understood that aedicula style structures each formed from two columns were present between the niches. The marble eaves on the niches provide evidence to this. None of the statues could be found, which were expected to be placed inside the niches according to the tradition. There is a large pool in front of it. The water was brought to the fountain by two canals from the aqueduct. The monument looks very similar to the monumental fountain in Side. Looking at the way it was built, one is able to judge that it is a monument of the 2. or 3. century.

Exedra

It is located on the road extending from agora towards the main gate. This is an open place prepared for wandering and sitting of the people and for lecturing of the scientists and the artists. The building has a square plan, with an edge opening to a semi-circular hall. Its walls are covered with marble and they were decorated with the niches. There were statues inside the niches.

Marble street, arcway and the temple

Extending from agora towards the north of the hill and attracting the attention with its drainage system, the marble street advances under an archway and reaches a square. It is possible to see the secondary connection canals coming from the buildings and small ways located on the side of the street to the main drainage canal below the street. Looking at the existing bases, one may judge that the square was decorated with the statues surrounding it. The road advances around the hill and continues downwards to the eastern gate. The stylobate and the cella foundations which have left from the temple located on the terrace to the north of the road presents its status in a satisfactory manner.

Aqueduct

is among the monuments of Aspendos city, which have survived through the present day in a very good state. It was built to bring water from the mountains on the north to the city. It reaches a height of 15m. at some points. Water was conveyed inside a pipe made of cubic stone blocks the centers of which were drilled to enable them to resist high pressure. The water was first brought down from the hills to the plain, and then it arrived the city within the same pipes, but this time on the archway. The aqueduct has two towers of 30 m. height ascended with stairs, which was built to adjust pressure and to rease the air accumulated in the system. One of these to is located on the slope of the mountain and the other is in a place near the acropolis hill. In an unearthed inscription dating back to 2. century A.D., it was written that a person called Tiberius Claudius Italicus donated two million denarius for the works towards bringing the water to the city.

Baths and gymnasium

It is understood from the remains of the buildings located on the foot of the hill where the city was located and also on the south that these were baths and gymnasium. Looking at the plan of the large building with multiple rooms and the water pipes on its ground, one is able to judge that this was a baths-gymnasium complex. A smaller building situated to the west of the baths-gymnasium complex was the city baths. Its plan bears all the characteristics of the classical Roman baths. Both buildings date back to 3.century A.D.

Theatre

​The building of Aspendos city which is even more famous than the city itself is the theatre. It bears all the characteristics of the Roman period theaters. It is among the Roman theaters on the earth, which have survived through the present day with best conditions. It has a semi circular plan, which is at the same time a characteristic of Roman theaters. According to an unearthed in scription, it was built by the architect Zeno, the son of Theodorus, during the reign of the emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 A.D.) Having a capacity of around 18.000 spectators, the cavea (sitting section for the spectators) is divided by a diazoma (connecting path) into two sections on top of one another. There is a longitudinal gallery in the upper section, which provides entry to the cavea from the upper section, and the entry was provided by arched passages. Cavea has also other entrances through passages opening to diazoma, from another gallery which is located on the same level as diazoma and which extends all along the building. The entries to Cavea from the lower section is provided with the covered side passages (paradoi). The name of the people to whom some of the sitting places were reserved were written by scraping.

The stage building of the theatre has multiple floors and it is high, again in accordance with the Roman style. The side of the building which faces the outside is simple. In the middle of this side is an arched staff entry, and there are the entrances for the spectators on both sides.

The part of the stage building which faces the spectators bears dense decorations. The stage has a part projecting 7m. towards the front and it is 1,5m. high. There are five stage doors on the surface of the stage, and below these, five small doors are placed. The wall of the stage background was decorated with two series of columns each of which rose on top of one another. In the openings left between these columns, there were niches surrounded by small columns and pedments placed on top of these columns. There were statues inside the niches. There was a large pediment above the second series of columns. This pediment was embroidered with a figure of “Dionysos”, placed among the plant motifs. The holes on the wall of the stage building reveals the fact that a shady spot built with a wooden frame was used.

Stadium

It is situated on the north of the theater. It is in a rather good condition. It has the shape of a horseshoe, with the dimensions of 220x30m. The sitting places on the long side were placed on the galleries having extended archways. There are small shops inside the gallery on the east.

Necropolis

It is located to the north and north east of the stadium. Many sarcophaguses and a grave which is carved in the rock were unearthed at this site.