Didem Doğan

The ancient city of Aphrodisias

Between Ephesus and Hierapolis is Aphrodisias, a beautiful ancient city dedicated to the Queen of beauty and love Aphrodite. It is listed among Unesco heritage sites in modern day Turkey and was unknown until late ‘50s. A Turkish photographer, Are Guler who was in the region as a photo reporter he sees locals using ancient grave stones, columns in their daily lives such as tables, playgrounds for kids, etc. He comes back and takes several pictures to be sent to Times magazine. The archeologists, assuming the place could be the ancient city of Aphrodisias, arrive to start excavations. With a group of them from the New York University and a Turkish professor, Kenan Erim, who dedicated his life to this work, this ancient city of nearly three thousand years is open to public visit.

The history of the city goes back to fifth century B.C. Between the first and third centuries it was developed as a centre of sculpture. The marble stones taken from the mountain Babadag nearby were processed at the marble quarries which were later turned into sculptures. This form of artwork was highly advanced in the city, you may see some examples at Aphrodisias Museum which is right at the entrance of the city. This first Greek, later Roman city was an important place, the capital of Lydian State until the seventh century. It then shared the same destiny with Ephesus, which was also destroyed by earthquakes, then reconstructed; however during the Byzantine period it starts to loose its importance and is almost abandoned in the twelfth century.

As you enter the city you will fall in love with it when you see the gate; the gate Tetrapylon, named after four pillars in Corinthian style is a marvel of reconstruction. You will see relics of gods such as Eros, Nike, as well as hunting scenes. You will then continue your visit to see the amphi theatre, the Roman baths. The surprise at the end is the huge stadium which has almost thirty thousand people capacity and most of the sitting areas are well preserved. Do not miss the museum and make it in your list when you are traveling from Hierapolis to Ephesus or vv (from Denizli to Kusadasi in modern day Turkey).

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