Turkey: Afrodisias – A Town Devoted to a Goddess
The ancient town of Afrodisias is one of Turkey’s most beautiful place, still not many tourists visit it. I decided I have to visit it...
When I entered this historical city it was around one o’clock. I enjoyed delicious kofte (Turkish meat balls) in a village nearby. Then a tourist tractor took me to the gates of Afrodisias, the center of art which was famous for the art of sculpture It seemed the statues want to move and speak. First I fallow a stone marble path up to the gate of Tetrapylon which separates the non sacred road from the sacred road going to the temple of Aphrodite . Many pilgrims traveled there to honor the goddess of beauty and love. Not just anyone was allowed to enter the sanctuary, only priests and priestesses. Impunity assured within temple walls so many of those serving were fugitive criminals. Normal pilgrim could put his gifts on temple’s main yard and leave. Monumental Aphrodite statues stood in the middle.
So what was up with Aphrodite? The legend has it she was born of sea foam. Naked and radiant she sat in white seashell pulled by doves. Sweet and gentle western wind of Zefyros took her to the island of Kythera. Yet she got off on Cyprus. Her beauty made her one of the most powerful goddesses. Mortals and even gods couldn’t resist her …
From the temple, you can follow a beaten road. After 10 minutes you appear at a large and well-preserved stadium for 30000. I was astonished by it. In the fornt part, a specially build space looking like a stage stood. There took place fights of gladiators with wild animals.
I go further following a road to the town. Then I reach local spas with beautiful pool decorated with a torso of a man. Right next to it is grandiose Portico Tiberia with a pool of 265 meters! So 5 times of an Olympic size pool. It is 60 meters wide but only 1 meter deep. There used to be marshlands so they used water from there for the pool of Portica. Water was then redirected to the spas.
In the Byzantine Age, the archbishop had his residence here. He changed the name of the town to Stavropolis in the 6th century. It means the town of cross, it was supposed to expel pagan goddesses. Yet they didn’t make it. The people of Afrodisias loved their old gods too much. Later the name of the town changed to Caria and today its called Geyre …
I go straight up across beautiful Odeon for 1700 visitors. It was even roofed. Then I climb a hill where the oldest settlement dating to pre-Afrodisias times in the 5th century was found. Then there is a beautiful platform where I can see the whole of Portico, and a really long pool which is not done yet. My breath is take away...
To the right, wee see a theatre in great condition. Only 8 000 could be there at once It originates in the Hellenic period. It was renovated in the 1st century BC. Inscriptions suggest it was devoted to Aphrodite and the people of the town. Stage part of the theatre was divided to six rooms, probably dressing rooms. In the 2nd century AD, the theatre was renovated so gladiators could fight animals there. Under the Seljuks, people built houses at the bottom of the theatre, well stage, in the 11th century. Well, they lived on planks that mean the world… They used even marble from theatre’s construction or local buildings to build their houses. Barbarians…
To be continued...
Text and photo: Sylvie Halouzková
The cars on highway from Sabiha Airport, distant from Istanbul city a couple of kilometres, move slowly ahead. So, it is time enough for the first quick acquaintance with the biggest Turkish town and way of life there.
As we mentioned in the previous, opening article, the most visitors are far from attracting its historic center to Istanbul. Whether it is the Hagia Sophia mosque, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the Topkapi Palace, or just its unforgettable atmosphere in narrow, hilly streets with countless shops. Let's get rid of our article and video.
I knew that Turkey's largest city offers a many things to do and to see. But it totally surprised me. One week there was like nothing. I can imagine that I would discover even more of local streets, monuments, gastronomy and modern parts much longer. Let's visit Istanbul through video and photos together.
Efes is the most preserved antique city in Turkey and it is rightfully one of the most popular spots. This place was known already in the 2nd century BCE. More than 250 thousand people lived there during its greatest time. In the present, thousands of tourists come here to admire what is left of fascinating buildings. Today, you walk with us on its marble pavement.
Today I arrive from the historical town of Afrodisias to the small village of Pamukkale often visited by holidaymakers.
I wanted to visit Cappadocia, a land of beautiful horses as the Hittites. I bought a ticket bus and rode from Bodrum to Antalya where I slept over. On the following day I rode across the town of Konya where I visited caravanserai (an oriental pub by main roads where members of caravans and their animals ate) and the museum of Mevlana.
Right now I pass a shop with ice-cream made in Bodrum. I cant miss this place. I take sour cherry, watermelon, and tangerine called dondrumu in Turkish. I continue slightly uphill to less glamorous neighborhood in Bodrum. I go up until a low white wall that surrounds famous Mausoleum in Halikarnassos.
The enchanting port city of Side with monuments of ancient civilizations is part of the Turkish Riviera. In addition to swimming in the sea you can also visit the treasures of ancient history. So I set out to explore the beauty of this place. Are you coming with me?
We just enter the city of Konya, the capital of former Seljuk empire. I step off from a bus at a bus station. I pick up my map of the city and head to a tower that shows me the way to the museum of Mevlana. The city spreads on a plateau surrounded with mountains.
Many roads cross Central Anatolia. The most famous is the Silk Road. The Sejluks built there traveller’s inns or also called caravanserais to boost trade as it would protect travelling traders.
For many centuries, Anatolia was a center of Chrisianity, mostly thanks to Apostle Paul and his missionary expeditions. His activity took place mostly around the year 41 AD. Christianity spread due to fertile ground it found in Cappadocia.
My journey now goes across ticket barriers to the museum compound, and then to the St Barbora church, who became a Christian against the will of her father. Initially, he imprisoned her and then killed her. Legend has it that he was struck by lightning for this.
I had my balloon flight above Cappadocia at last. In my perspective, it is there where to do such thing is the best. We were at the place at 5.15 in the morning. There were more than 50 balloons being prepared for flights!
Right now I have been sitting on a bench on a railroad station. I am waiting impatiently for our bus to get started on a direction to Istanbul. I will see it with my naked eye, finally! This magnificent city attracts every traveler looking forward to fabulous adventure!
We are at the horse market. If you have imagination, you can still hear horses. It is here where the Hippodrome used to stand, it was a racing circuit for chariots of four horses. The race took place every year and the Caesar attended it every time. The audience divided into two groups, greens – regular citizens; and blues – nobility.
With so many memories from yesterday we slept so well. Now we are about to have delicious Turkish breakfast, i.e. white cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, bread… And black tea with much sugar. And we are ready to go. It is like we are invited to see the sultan personally in his Topkapi Palace.
Now we go downhill to the harbor. We embark a ferry and choose a bench on the upper deck. Soon the ship set sail. The name Bosporus means Cow ford. According the legend, there live beautiful princess Io in ancient Greece.
We cruise around the Ortakoy Mosque built by Sultan Abdulmecid in 1853. The construction was done by his architect Nokogos Balayn. It is in the baroque style and it is situated in the European part of the Bosporus. Now we flow under the Bosporus bridge built in 1973 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.
We have just landed. I take a deep breath. Finally we are at the Bodrum Airport. We get into a bus and 40 minutes later ride downhill to Bodrum. The air has a salty smell of distant lends, colors have numerous shades, and azure horizon seamlessly changes to the sky.
At the theater once again I try to hitchhike a dolmush and continue to Gumbet, another bay beyond Bodrum. I go there to see the Myndos gate. From there a road to the city of Myndos ran. The gate was on a strategically significant location.
Once again I continue by dolmush to Turgutreis to a memorial to an admiral, and than I walk trough a green park to the port. Then I hitchhike another dolmush and go north to Gümüşlük where the flooded city of Myndos is located.
Have you ever heard of the Silk Road? Do you know how long it is or its route? We will join one caravan and will see… We won’t start in China where the Silk Road begins because it would take us 9000 kilometers to its end in Istanbul. Except for Marco Polo not many people walked it through whole. Majority of merchants used just were using a part of the Silk Road, from bazar to bazar where they bought and sold goods.
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