DIDYMA

Didyma (nearby Didim, in the Aegean region of Turkey) was a cult center for the city of Miletus. It is located in the present day village of Yeniköy, about 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the site of Miletus. In ancient times, these two cities were connected to each other by a sacred road that had statues located on either side of it.

Medusa friezes of DidymaThe Didymaion, the temple of Apollo and its oracle at Didyma, had a considerable reputation in the ancient times. German archaeologists excavating at the site have shown that the earliest sanctuary here was built in the 8th century BC and that it was enlarged into an enormous temple around 560 BC. After their bloody suppression of the Ionian rebellion, the Persians sacked and laid waste to Miletus (which they regarded as the instigator) and the Didymaion in 494 BC. It was during this assault that the temple’s cult statue of Apollo was carried off to Ecbatana (modern Hamadan town in Iran). After Alexander the Great defeated the Persians in 334 BC, the Ionian cities regained their independence and work was begun on reconstructing the temple of Apollo.

Around 300 BC, King Seleukos I of Syria, who then controlled western Anatolia, had the bronze statue of Apollo brought back from Ecbatana to be installed in the new temple, to whose construction he also provided monetary assistance. The new building was designed by the architects Paionios and Daphnis. The former architect was from Ephesus and was one of those who worked on the Artemision there. The temple was planned on a much grander scale than the original sanctuary and indeed it was the third largest religious structure in the ancient world being surpassed only by the Ephesian Artemision and the temple of Hera on the island of Samos. The Hellenistic temple measured 109.34 by 51.13 meters and had a total of 124 columns. It was set on a seven-stepped platform measuring 3.5 meters high and in the center of the east front there was a separate flight of fourteen steps. The construction of this huge building naturally took a long time and continued during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. One section was only completed in Roman times. While the temple suffered repeatedly from fires and earthquakes, it sustained the worst damage in an earthquake in 1493.

columns of Temple of ApolloThe columns still standing measure 2.40 meters in diameter and 19.70 meters in height. The double row of columns surrounding the temple was covered over with a marble roof as was the temple proper. The central courtyard measured 53.63 by 21.71 meters and was the site of the Archaic period temple. During Hellenistic times, a small temple (called as naiskos) was built here to house the bronze statue of Apollo. Its surrounding walls were 25 meters in height and decorated with Gryphons. The cella was unroofed. East of the adyton (sacred courtyard) is a great stairway of 24 steps measuring 15.20 meters wide. This flight of steps leads up to a windowless, three door hall where the oracle was written down and delivered. The hall measured 20 meters high and had a marble roof. East of the chamber, a door 5.63 meters wide and 14 meters high leads to the pronaos. The pronouncement of the oracles could only be listened to from outside the chamber and there were stairways which led to the upper floor. On either side of the entrance there are doors measuring 2.25 meters high and 1.2 meters wide, and each connects to a narrow, vaulted tunnel leading to the adyton. At the far end of each corridor there is a small propylon-like room.

Today, the towns of Didim, Altinkum and Akbük are popular holiday resorts with their sandy beaches. Lately, many foreigners have bought (and continue to buy) property in and around Didim for their holidays or for the retirement. It became a popular area especially for the British nationals.

PRIENE

Priene lies in Güllübahçe at a distance of 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Söke town nearby Kusadasi, in the Aegean region of Turkey. The city was founded in the 2nd millennium BC in an unknown location nearby and then carried to its present location on the clifs around 350 BC. The visit of the archeological site requires some steep walking up after the car park, following a footpath and some steps through the Hellenistic city walls.

Temple of AthenaAt the point of entrance of the ruins, a road on the right leads us to the cisterns from the Byzantine period and to the Theater of Priene. The theater had been built during the Hellenistic period, and underwent modifications during the Roman period. The theater consists of 50 rows of seats and is capable of holding 5.000 people and, in the section of the orchestra of the theater, there are five marble armchairs reserved for eminent people. On the right side of the theater, the Temenos of Egyptian Gods is situated. The upper Gymnasium is in front of the theater and the Byzantine church is at its side. The Temple of Athena belongs to the 4th century BC and it’s the work of the architect Pytheos who also built Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The temple, with 6 x 11 columns, has dimensions of 19.55 x 37.20 meters. A few columns of the temple, which is a classical example of Ionian architecture, have been erected. Alexander the Great had the eastern half of the temple completed. The altar in the front was decorated with high relieves in the past, and it belongs to the 2nd century BC. The Stoa that displays a graceful example of stone workmanship, is on the south of the Temple of Athena.

Going downwards from the temple, you can see the Agora (market place) of Priene which belongs to the 3rd century BC. Next to that there was also an fish and meat market. The sacred Stoa belonging to the 2nd century BC is situated north of the Agora. The Bouleuterion (the Assembly building) which looks like a small square theater, with dimensions of 20 x 21 meters and a capacity for 640 people, is adjacent to the Stoa and, adjacent to it, there is Prytaneion (Town Hall) from 2nd century BC where the sacred fire used to burn. Temenos of Zeus Olympios is situated east of the Agora. There are houses on two sides of the avenue which connects the Agora to the western gate. Temenos of Kybele and the house of Alexander the Great are situated at the western gate side of the avenue. In the extreme south of Priene, the lower Gymnasium and the Stadium are situated.

MILETUS

Miletus is located in the vicinity of Söke town, nearby Kusadasi, in the Aegean region of Turkey). The city was built on the seashore in the ancient times. The Miletus people who had founded about 90 colonies in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, after 650 BC, had resisted the Persian invasions in Anatolia, but they were defeated finally and the city was destroyed by the Persians in 5th century BC.

Stoa of the AgoraWhen you arrive at the ruins, the magnificent theater of the city appears in sight at first. The theater had been constructed during the Hellenistic period and it acquired its present characteristics by means of the annexes made during the Roman period. The walls of the front facade of the theater are 140 meters long and 30 meters high, and are an interesting example of stone workmanship. The theater was large enough to hold 24.000 people, but a fortress was built upon it during the Byzantine period seizing its capacity down to 15.000 people.

On the opposite side of the theater there is a Seljuk Caravanserai and the baths built for Faustina II, wife of Marcus Aurelius who ruled between 161-180 AD. The Temple of Serapis, belonging to the 3rd century AD, is behind the baths. The rectangular buildings seen on one side are warehouse buildings. The adjacent Southern Agora building which has dimensions of 164 x 196 meters and is surrounded by stoas, belongs to the 2nd century AD and its southern gate was taken to the museum of Berlin during the early excavations.

When you go out through the northern gate of the Agora, you see the Bishop’s Church and the Martyrion belonging to the 5th century AD beside it, and the ceremonial road which is 100 meters long and 28 meters wide, extending in front of the Agora. On the east side of it there is a fountain (Nymphaion) in the Public Square from the 2nd century AD, and a Bouleuterion (the Senate Building) which was constructed between 175-164 BC is situated opposite to it. The Temple of Asklepios and the Sacred Place are situated at its side. At the side of these, the Northern Agora extends along the sacred road and at the right hand side of the sacred road there is the Gymnasium from the 2nd century BC, the entrance of which has been brought to an erect position at present.

The baths built by Vergilius Capito during the reign of Claudius are situated north of the Gymnasium, and some of these baths were used during the Seljuk period. At the northern end of the Ceremonial Road there is the Harbor Gate which was a passage with 16 columns, and on the east of this road there is a fountain (Delphinion) which is a work from the Archaic period.

When you go towards the north from here, you can see at the left hand side the port stoa, the Harbor Monument built in 31 BC, the Small Harbor Monument and the Synagogue. The statues of the lions on both sides of the port were used to block the entrance to the Military Harbor by a chain. On the opposite side you can see the Roman Baths.

The remains of the Stadium, the Western Agora and the Temple of Athena belonging to the 5th century BC are located in the south of Miletus. The only ancient Turkish work in Miletus is the Mosque of Ilyas Bey, ruler of the area at that time. The mosque was built in 1404 AD and it can be visited today.