Antalya: a Modern Ancient City
As we were planning our Turkey15 trip, we considered flying to Ankara instead of Istanbul to shorten the distance to Ani. This was until we found out that EasyJet had flights to Antalya from London Gatwick: a great cost saving and a good stepping stone to eastern Turkey… So we booked our tickets accordingly and decided to spend a few days in the town to get settled and arrange our onward journey.
We are not beach people, so we were a bit on the defensive side but we liked Antalya very much. We did not go to the seaside resorts, stayed in the town instead and discovered a very pleasant city, airy, clean, modern with some interesting sights, an amazing museum and worthwhile destinations for a day-trip or two. We will definitely make it again our point of entry for future trips to Turkey. There are still a lot of things we have not seen yet: the ruins of Termessos and Aspendos nearby are just waiting for us to be explored.
The town was founded in the 2nd century BC by a certain Attalus II of Pergamum and named Attaleia in his honour. His nephew Attalus III ceded the town to Rome in 133 BC. The Romans left many relics among others a triumphal arch built in honour of Emperor Hadrian's visit in 130 AD which is now known as Hadrian's Gate. Built of marble, it has three arches and is one of the most famous monument in town. However, to see really impressive remains of the Ancient world, Hellenistic or Roman, one should head definitely to the Archeological Museum, one of the best in Turkey and one of the highlights of this trip. We were particularly impressed by the Hall of the Emperors and the Hall of the Gods both featuring many well presented statues but best of all was the Sarcophagus Hall displaying well preserved and finely carved sarcophagi.
We have a photo gallery dedicated to this great museum.
The panorama below was taken in the Hall of the Emperors. From left to right, you see the statues of:
|1) Plancia Magna, high priestess and benefactress to the city of Perge (lived during the reign of Emperor Hadrian 2nd century AD).||2) Empress Julia Domna (lived 160-217 AD), second wife of Emperor Septimius Severus.||3) Emperor Septimius Severus (lived 145-211 AD).||4) Emperor Hadrian. (lived 76-138 AD).|
|5) Empress Faustina the Younger (lived 130-175/6 AD), wife of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.||6) Emperor Trajan (lived 53-177 AD).||7) Another statue of Emperor Hadrian. (lived 76-138 AD).||8) Empress Vibia Sabina (lived 83-136/7 AD), wife of Emperor Hadrian.|
Click on the panorama to open a larger version in a separate tab. Click again to activate scrolling and use the bottom scroll bar to navigate through the picture and view it in full detail.
The ruins of Perge and Side
Many artefacts in Antalya's museum originate from Perge, specially the statues of the Hall of Gods, so we decided to visit Perge and check what's left on the ground. Going there from Antalya is easy: take the tramway to Maydan, the last eastern stop and from there catch a dolmuş to the village of Aksus (15 km), it is then an easy two km walk north to the ruins. The first thing one sees when arriving at the ruins is the massive theatre, unfortunately closed for repairs as we visited. The next feature however makes up for this first disappointment: this is the stadium, most impressive with its horseshoe shape. It could seat 12,000 spectators and is the largest in Asia Minor (234 m x 34 m). Clearly visible are the seats and below them rooms with vaulted ceilings which served as support for the structure and were used as shops and entrance gates to the arena. Then comes the ticket booth and behind it the actual city. There is quite a lot left to see: passing two gates, one of them flanked by big towers, one follows a paved street lined with columns, some remains of houses/shop and Roman baths: enough to get a good idea of how the city might have looked. There was hardly any other tourist when we visited and this made the trip even more special. We definitely recommend it.
Moving away from Antalya to Konya, we decided to break the journey and spend one day/night in Side, which boasts further Hellenistic and Roman ruins. Honestly, we did not like the place, although the temples of Apollo and Athena right at the harbour, facing the sea are a very nice sight, particularly at sunset. We did not visit the theatre, this might have been a mistake but we wandered extensively around the ruins scattered around it. What spoiled the place for us was the constant stream of tourists strolling through the village with its gross, cheap and ugly souvenir shops. I have a great memory of leaving the town though: we were walking with our rucksacks along the road past the theatre to get to the bus station in the early morning and Thomas pointed down at the side of the road: I saw then some mosaics, just next to the tarred street, half overgrown with weeds. This impressed me very much, these remains of the past having as a miracle survived there so inconspicuously.
|Perge's horseshoe shaped stadium. Click on the panorama to open a larger version in a separate tab. Click again to activate scrolling and use the bottom scroll bar to navigate through the picture and view it in full detail.|
$updated from: Blog.htxt Sun 13 Dec 2020 16:00:07 trvl2 (By Vero and Thomas Lauer)$