Aspendos – Antalya

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Aspendos – Antalya

Located on the second kilometer of the road that turns north from the 44th kilometer of the Antalya – Alanya highway, Aspendos is famous for having the best preserved Roman theater not only in Anatolia but also in the entire Mediterranean world. The city was established on the hill plain near Köprüçay (Ancient Eurymedon), one of the largest rivers in the region. Today, theaters and waterways are mostly visited in Aspendos, which owes its transportation and development to the Mediterranean Sea to the nearby river and therefore to the fertile lands around it. The remains of other buildings belonging to the city are located on the plain of the hill on which the theater leans.

Aspendos - Antalya

Aspendos – Antalya

Historians mention that the Greek side won the battle between the Greeks and the Persians in 467 BC, known as the Battle of Eurymedon, by the river flowing near the city. Although Aspendos tried to resist Alexander the Great by fraudulent means, they eventually surrendered and accepted the tax debt in exchange for the famous horses and gold bred in the city. The most brilliant period of the city, which came under the rule of Ptolemy after Alexander’s death, is undoubtedly the Roman Empire period, when the famous theaters and waterways were built.

Aspendos - Antalya

Aspendos – Antalya

 

Aspendos Theater is one of the most distinguished representatives of the Roman Period theaters today, with its architectural features and its well-preserved nature. Dedicated to the gods and emperors of the era, the building exhibits the last lines of Roman theater architecture and construction technique. Aspendos theater, one of the magnificent buildings of its time, could accommodate 15-20 thousand people. It was built by the architect Zenon, son of Theodoros, during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161–180 AD). It is understood from the Greek and Latin inscriptions that it was built by two rich brothers of the city, Curtius Crispinus and Curtius Auspicatus, at two moments of the entrance. Next to the theater, the most important ruins of the city that can be visited are the waterways. The Aspendos waterway system is one of the best preserved examples of ancient waterways. Its general view consists of water pressure towers at both ends of the approximately 1 kilometer long north-south arched bridge. While the water of the city was collected in pear-shaped cisterns carved into the bedrock, which can be seen from place to place on the hill, the waterway system was developed together with all the structures in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, and it was achieved to obtain water more regularly. On the hill where the theater leans, surrounded by city walls, the agora, basilica, monumental fountain, parliament building, monumental arch, street and Hellenistic temple, which are the structures of the city center, are the ruins that should be seen.

Aspendos

The fact that a city on such a small scale prints the most valid currency in the entire Mediterranean world and is equipped with monumental structures can be easily explained in its economy. The most important export product that sustains the city’s economy is the salt obtained from the nearby Lake Kapria, which is dried and used in cotton farming today. Along with other export products, salt, which was sent to other Mediterranean markets via the navigable river, was the city’s most important source of income. In addition, viticulture and, accordingly, winemaking, olives and olive oil, other grain products and fresh fruit were the other agricultural export products of the city. Historians write that the horses bred in Aspendos are the most sought after horses in the entire Near East and Mediterranean world. Aspendos is one of the cities that survived the Byzantine and Seljuk periods. It is possible to see the traces of the Seljuk period repairs in the famous theater, especially in the monumental door addition in the middle of the exterior and the dark red zigzag patterned plaster coating on the façade. The most important reason why the stage building, which is thought to have been arranged as a caravanserai and where the Seljuk sultans stayed, has remained intact until today is attributed to this Seljuk repair and protectionism. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk also visited here in 1930 and gave instructions for “repair and reuse”.

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