Aspendos

Where is ancient Aspendos

Aspendos is an ancient city in the historical region of Pamphylia (a coastal region in the southern part of modern Turkey) located about 40 km east of modern Antalya. The distance from Belek to Aspendos is 18 km, from Side 35 km, and from Alanya and Kemer 94 km. The city is located on the banks of the Evrymedon River (now Kopruchay), 16 km from the Mediterranean coast. The mouth of the Kopruchay (Eurymedon) river has naturally changed over the centuries due to alluvial deposits. Eurymedon became famous as early as 469 BC in a war in which the Athenians sank thousands of Persian ships (Battle of Eurymedon). The river, which at that time was navigable, today is completely unsuitable for ships.

History of Aspendos

It is believed that the city of Aspendos was founded after the Trojan War  in the XIII-XII centuries. BC e. colonists from Argos – the Argives. The Argives are residents of the ancient Greek city of Argos on the Peloponnese peninsula. Aspendos was first part of Lycia, but later the city was captured by the Persians. After the Battle of Eurymedon, the Athenians successfully held Aspendos until 425 and collected large taxes here.

In 334 BC, Alexander the Great arrived in these lands, which passed from one empire to another over the course of a century. The inhabitants of Aspendos first signed an agreement with the great commander, but when he set off in the direction of Perge , they changed their minds. During the siege of Sillyon, Alexander suddenly decided to withdraw his troops and sent the entire army to Aspendos. Frightened by this, as well as the fact that Alexander the Great until then did not know defeat, the inhabitants of Aspendos surrendered and submitted to the authority of Alexander, who appointed a governor and forced them to pay a large tribute. Wars continued even after the death of Alexander, these lands passed into the control of the Kingdom of Pergamon until 133 BC. e.

  • Plan of the ancient city of Aspendos
  • Aerial photography of Aspendosa

Like neighboring Perge , Aspendos was subdued by Rome in 129 AD. Then he was robbed by the Roman administrator Verres. This robber dismantled all the sculptures near all the temples and other buildings. After the partition of the Roman Empire in AD 395. e., Aspendos became part of the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire. It was then that the decline of the city began, accelerated by the Arab raids. From the beginning of the thirteenth century, Aspendos began to be populated by the Seljuks. During the reign of Allaedin Keykubad, the theater was restored. Decorated with exquisite Seljuk tiles, it was used as a caravanserai. This is one of the main reasons why the theater has been preserved in its original form, while retaining its unique acoustics.

Aspendosa Theater

Among all the buildings of Aspendos, the most attractive and most sonorous is the theater of the master Zeno, built in the second century AD. The theater has a capacity of 17,000 spectators. The front facade consists of five tiers, built of huge stones with relief cutouts. Three large doors with Greek and Latin inscriptions on them represent the entrance to the theater. The theater building can be accessed through a door on the central façade, but this façade was built much later. The original entrance was through two arched passages located on both sides of the stage. The royal entrance to the theater is the largest and previously had five doors.

Niches in front of the stage, surrounded by Ionian and Corinthian columns, house the statues under small triangular or semicircular pediments. Although the patterns in the form of bulls’ heads, flower wreaths and fruits that adorn the pediments have worn out in places, they have generally been preserved in fairly good condition. On a small pediment in the center of the upper-level columns, there is a sculptural representation of Dionysus, the god of wine and the founder and protector of theaters.

  • Skene (stage) theater in Aspendos
  • Dionysus – god of wine, founder and protector of theaters

The two-tiered stage and the staircase leading to the spectators’ seats are all designed to meet stringent acoustic requirements. At the top of the staircase, the entire arched gallery has been preserved, which completely surrounds the theater. In the spring, if you walk from the theater towards the ruins and ruins, you will see the market square and palace, dotted with daisies and purple wild flowers, just like in ancient times.

  • Roman Theater of Aspendos
  • The vaulted gallery of the theater

Other attractions of Aspendos

In addition to the famous Roman theater in Aspendos, there is another masterpiece of ancient architecture – a 15-kilometer aqueduct, built in the 2nd century. AD The aqueduct starts at the foothills of the Taurus Mountains and ends at the base of the hill on which the city is located. Also not far from the aqueduct are the ruins of the stadium, but it is much worse preserved. In the acropolis (fortified part) of the city, the remains of the agora, the basilica, the bouleuteria (the building where the rulers of the city gathered) and the nympheum (the monumental fountain) have been preserved.

  • Ruins of an aqueduct in Aspendos
  • Facade of the theater in Aspendos

The legend of Aspendose

Legend has it that the king of Aspendos organized a competition to see who was most loyal and useful to him and the city, and as a reward the winner was promised a princess as his wife. By the appointed end date of the competition, one of the applicants has built an aqueduct, claiming that it will supply the city with water from the purest mountain springs. Another built a theater. Both structures were magnificent and the king liked very much. Not knowing who to give preference to, the king suggested that the rivals divide the girl in half. The creator of the aqueduct agreed, but the architect of the tetra chose to abandon the girl in favor of his rival. The Tsar realized that the noble theater architect loved his daughter and would be a good husband to her. It was this architect that the princess married.

  • Teatr Aspendosa – inside view
  • Arched gallery of the theater

Regardless of whether you are walking among the ruins of the old city or come to see a ballet, listen to music or see a theater performance, you will certainly plunge into the world of the old city, smell those flowers, feel the presence of that time. After all, everything here breathes with antiquity, and legends come to life, forcing you to return to Aspendos again and again.