The Ancient City of Side is the ruins of an ancient Roman city founded in the 7th century. BC. Now this is the name of the antique area of the city of Side, located on the peninsula next to the port. Thanks to the numerous surviving buildings, it is an open-air museum. Most of the facilities are located in the resort area and are available for visiting free of charge.
- Location: Selimiye Mahallesi, Çağla Sk., 07330 Manavgat/Antalya, Турция
- Opening hours: daily around the clock, amphitheater from 08:00 to 19:30.
The city of Side was founded by the Greeks in the 7th century. BC. and was an important port of the ancient province of Pamphylia. In 334 BC. the city was conquered by Alexander the Great.
In 190 BC. in Side became the site of the naval war between Rhodes and Syria. The city was then captured by pirates and turned into a center for the slave trade. The end of the power of the pirates was put by the Roman general Pompey in 67 BC, who expelled them and provided the inhabitants of the city with freedom.
In the 2nd century, Side became a major port of international trade. The Roman period was the heyday of Side, many of the surviving ancient buildings date back to the 2nd century and later.
In the 7th century A.D. the Arabs completely destroyed Side, and its inhabitants had to move to Anatolia.
The revival of Side began in the 19th century. Now it is the main archaeological zone of Turkey, work on the search and restoration of antiquities is still ongoing in it.
The main objects in the ancient city
The port city of Side in the Roman period was in constant danger of threats from the sea, but despite the attacks of enemies and earthquakes, the city walls and city buildings are well preserved.
Some objects have been partially restored (theater, port, Temple of Apollo).
The length of the city walls reaches 6 kilometers, in some places they reach 10 meters in width.
The entrance to Side from Manavgat is framed by an arched gate, next to which there is an ancient fountain dedicated to Emperor Vespasian. Behind the gate begins a columnar street leading to the Agora square, which was used to gather people on important city issues, as well as a place for the sale of slaves. The Agora is connected to the building of the largest theater in Pamphylia.
The aqueduct, through which water was supplied to the city’s houses from the Manavgat River, has been partially preserved. Behind the city wall is a necropolis with a number of tombs and sarcophagi.
Temple of Apollo
The Temple of Apollo was built near the port of Side in the 2nd century. BC. entirely of marble with antique style columns. The high columns of the temple with the heads of jellyfish at the top have survived to this day. These columns are perfectly visible from the sea. The boat stop next to the Temple of Apollo is part of the many boat trips from Side.
The Side Theater was built in the 2nd century BC. and was designed for 17,000 spectators. The amphitheater was used not only for showing performances. Gladiator fights and water games were held here (a special stage space was filled with water). In the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. open-air services were held in the theater.
The entire theater is divided into three parts: a stage, an orchestra area and an auditorium. The orchestra area, often used for gladiatorial and animal fights, is fortified with a stone wall to keep spectators out of harm’s way.
The theater has been well preserved to this day. This is one of the few objects of the ancient city, the entrance to which is paid. Nowadays, city festivals and concerts are sometimes held here.
Temple of Dionysus
From the north-western side of the theater, the temple of Dionysus is adjacent to it. As you can see in the construction diagram, earlier the entrance to the temple was decorated with four columns, and inside the room there were half-columns along the entire perimeter.
The architectural composition of the building dates back to the 1st century. AD
The gates of the city with an arch were built in 71 AD. They connected two city walls. The height of the gate is about 6 meters. They were dedicated to Emperor Vespasian, whose statue was located in the central niche of the fountain next to the gate.
Now the gates and city walls are partially preserved, the statue of the emperor was transported to a museum in Berlin.
The ruins of the city market have survived not far from the theater. Here transactions for the sale of slaves were made, as well as political and economic affairs were discussed. A round temple with 12 columns was built in the center of the agora.
The city toilet was located in the corner of the agora. It was also architecturally decorated and connected to the underground sewage system.
A separate building with a garden in the ancient city is set aside for a museum. Previously, city baths were located here, then a gymnasium. Now it is a city museum, each room of which is designed as a separate exhibition.
The museum displays a large number of statues and figurines of gods and goddesses, sculptures, bas-reliefs, dishes, jewelry and tombs. The exhibits date back to the 2nd century. AD and a later period.
The entrance to the museum is paid.
Since the ancient city in Side is an open-air museum, it is available for inspection around the clock, with the exception of the theater and museum.
The Antique Theater in Side is open to the public every day, from 08:00 to 19:30, regardless of the season. Ticket offices close at 19:15.
Museum opening hours in Side: daily from 08:30 to 19:30.
You can walk along most of the streets of the ancient city for free.
Paid entrance only to the museum and the amphitheater.
The ticket price to the Side amphitheater is 55 liras.
Ticket price at the Side Museum – 30 pounds.
Entrance for children under 8 years old is free.
How to get to the ancient city of Side
Getting to the ancient city is easy:
1. On foot.
Living in Side itself, you can reach the antique part on foot.
2. On the dolmus (minibus).
The most economical option for those who live in the hotel area of Side is to get there by public transport. To do this, you first need to take a minibus (dolmus) to the Side Bus Station. Usually, their windshield has a Side sign and a list of the hotels they pass. The final stop of such dolmush is the bus station.
At the bus station, you can change to a free bus to the ancient city (the inscription on the glass Antik Side) or walk.
3. By taxi.
The easiest and most comfortable way to get there is by taxi. But in this part of Turkey, taxis are expensive, travel for short distances – 10-20 euros.
4. By rented car.
A good option for sightseeing in Side is to rent a car. This will allow you to visit not only Side, but also travel to neighboring regions. There is a large parking lot near the ancient city.
5. As part of the excursion.
Bus excursions around Side are offered both from the city of Side and from nearby villages such as Cholakli, Kumkoy, Sorgun, Kizilot, Kyzyligach. Such an excursion often includes a tour of the ancient city.
A boat trip on a yacht from Side usually includes a stop for photos and videos from the sea near the Temple of Apollo.