Archaeological Sites Around Antalya, Day 2
Our second day of sightseeing with an archaeologist specializing in Roman and Greek ruins in the Antalya region was just as fascinating. We visited two old sites, Termessos and Sagalassos.
Arriving at Termessos is a treat simply because you have to work to get there – it is located at over 1000 m of altitude on Gulluk Mountain. After the bus climbed and climbed, we had to hike an additional 30 minutes or so up the mountain to reach the outskirts of the city. Although the site is still mostly a pile of rocks, there are a few standout ruins to reward your aching muscles and knees.
The city pre-dates Greek civilizations, and thanks to its position at the top of a mountain, defied conquest by Alexander the Great in 333 B.C. It’s referenced by Homer as Bellerophon. The archaeologists think that the rich citizens who lived inside the city were supported by networks of agriculture and slaves who lived in the valley below. The city maintained its independence through Roman times, but was abandoned after an earthquake collapsed its aqueduct.
I liked Termessos because of its relativiely untouched nature. The ruins are slowly being buried by natural plants, and I think it shows in reverse how so many of these great cities were lost for centuries.
The first sight at the top of the hike is the Gymnasium, which was both a school, gym, and social club for the young men of the city. Amidst the wild plants and shrubs, some walls and arches remain.
Next we walked out to the edge of the mountain for the most impressive theater I’ve ever seen – who needs a show with a view like this!
Before descending, we wandered through the remains of the agora and some homes scattered around the area.
Our second site was Sagalassos, another ancient southwestern Anatolian town. It was another Pisidian town, with settlement in this location as far back as 8000 B.C.! The history took the standard tour of civilizations, from stone age to Hittite to Psidian to Greek to Roman. After Alexander the Great failed to conquer Termessos, the site we visited in the morning, he attacked Sagalassos with fury, and it became a Hellenistic city. Although it successfully recovered from a few earthquakes over the centuries, eventually the hillside location was abandoned and the people resettled to the valley below. The buildings that remain are mostly Roman.
The center of the square held an impressive fountain, with several statues. You can see them covered in thermal bags right now to protect from the cold. Recently huge statues of Hadrian, Sabine (his courtesan) and Aurelius have all been found at the site.
The town also boast an old library with impressive mosaics.
Other buildings include a statue to Dionysus (god of wine and fun!), a stadium, and some fountains. Remember, the Romans were always building water features to handle the extra water flowing in to the cities from their aqueducts!