4 The Most Remarkable Ancient Cities in Turkey

Turkish land, being a crossroad of cultures and civilizations over the centuries, holds some of the best ruins from Ancient Greece and Roma...

Turkish land, being a crossroad of cultures and civilizations over the centuries, holds some of the best ruins from Ancient Greece and Roman Empire. Most of today's Turkey used to be called Anatolia or Asia Minor in ancient times. And the most 'generous' part of Anatolia in terms of old ruins lied along the southwestern shore of the country closer to Greece. I read a dozen of books and articles while preparing my trip to Turkey, so here is the top four most impressive lost cities I hand-picked for you among dozens of others in Turkey.

1. Aphrodisias. 
This site is devoted to the goddess of love, Aphrodite. For its beauty and authenticity, it rivals and even outstrips Ephesus, the most famous site with Greco-Roman ruins in Turkey that gets the most crowd, thanks to its proximity to the Aegean ports and big cities.
Aphrodisias lies not far from Pamukkale (only 1 1/2 h drive), but far enough to ensure that buses with mass tourists do not reach this place. 
As a result - you can almost have it for yourself. Especially if you come early enough which is the must in the summer.
There are a few highlights in Aphrodisias that you won't easily find anywhere else in Turkey. First one is its beautiful gateway to the Sanctuary of Aphrodite built circa 200 A.D.
It was reconstructed in 1991 thanks to its amazing preservation - about 85% of the structure's marble blocks were intact. 
Council House (or Bouleuterion) not only was a place where the city council would gather for meetings, but also it hosted concerts and other performances and could cit up to 1,750 people. 
The public baths is where people in Roman Empire would socialize.
The baths were built on the Roman model with parallel hallways each serving a different function - as a hot, cold or changing room.
But the biggest attraction in Aphrodisias is its gigantic stadium - the largest and one of the best preserved ancient stadiums in the world. It's 270 m / 886 ft long and can easily be used for a soccer game.

2. Myra. 
Myra ruins lie in the heart of Lycia, a very distinct branch among other nations in Ancient Greece. Lycians mostly lived along the Mediterranean coast between modern Fethiye and Antalya, in the southwestern part of Anatolia.
Lycians so much valued their freedom and independence, so that Lycia was the last part of Anatolia incorporated into the Roman Empire.
Lycians formed the Lycian League - the first known democratic union in history.
Lycians even had their own language.
The site with Myra ruins is very small and surrounded by greenhouses and residential area. But it is also one of the most beautiful and unusual ones, especially because of its tombs carved in the limestone.
Myra's theatre is very well preserved and impressive. It held gladiatorial games among other social activities.  
There is another important place near Myra worth mentioning. But it warrants a separate article. Stay tuned.

3. Olympos. 
Olympos is another Lycian city which experienced the highest prosperity in the 5th-6th centuries B.C.
Olympos was deemed to be a city of hedonists - people who believed that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life. And I kind of understand why Olympos was full of pleasure - it's nicely nestled at the river's delta by the coast surrounded by gorgeous mountains.
The site is very shady, and lush green so you can easily explore it any time of the day.
This building with mosaic floor is believed to have been built in the 5th century A.D.

4. Arykanda. 
Location-wise, Arykanda is by far the most impressive site among the ones I have seen in Turkey. It's overlooking a huge valley rimmed by tall mountains.
Arykanda joined the Lycian League in the 2nd century B.C., even though it's nowhere near the coast as was the case for the majority of other Lycian cities. 
You can easily spend 3-4 hours strolling around the Arykanda's beautifully preserved ruins.
As it's located on the hill, you'll need to exercise a little bit to reach the theatre.
But the view from up there is so rewarding.

My other posts from the Trip to Turkey
Be Ready to Get Wet in Saklikent Canyon

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