At the heart of Aphrodisias

Hidden amongst the mountains about an hour drive from Denizli, the ancient city Aphrodisias opens up to another world with its green fields and local wildlife (birds and frogs mostly) amidst which some of the original structures still stand. The overgrown paths and thickets certainly give an exotic and wild feel to the whole site, which probably could be annoying for the casual tourist but it just made me fall in love with the place even more. Thank god I wore my good walking shoes at the last minute, due to the rain from the day before, the terrain was quite marshy and slippery in some places.

Aphrodisias at a glance
Aphrodisias at a glance

I joined a tour bus from Pamukkale (30 TL) which took us to the site and left us to explore on our own. From the parking lot, we then got towed to the site in an open train carriage pulled by a tractor. Bumpy but definitely exciting!

Our ride for the day
Our ride for the day

Settlement in Aphrodisias goes back as far as 5000 BC but the temple of Aphrodite, built to honour the goddess of love later became a pilgrimage site. By the 3rd century AD, the city had become the capital of Roman Caria. In the early Byzantine period, it then became an Orthodox City with the temple was turned into a church but was abadoned about the 12th century – probably due to earthquakes.

The Temple of Aphrodite, partly restored
The Temple of Aphrodite, partly restored

The remoteness of Aphrodisias protects it from the crowds – quite refreshing after visiting the tourist magnets that Ephesus and Pamukkale are. Except for one group of British tourists, I was mostly left alone to appreciate the beauty of the site.

Listening to the guide of the British tourists telling about the politics of the time. Less interested tourists ended up looking for frogs in the pond.
Listening to the guide of the British tourists telling about the politics of the time. Less interested tourists ended up looking for frogs in the pond.

Excavations are still ongoing by archaeologists and there certainly is much work to be done until it’s up to Ephesus’s level. What I saw was probably just a taste of what was to come.

Carvings on some part of the puzzle that the temple represents
Carvings on some part of the puzzle that the temple represents
Quite hard to imagine how the Bishop's Palace was though
Quite hard to imagine how the Bishop’s Palace was though
The tetrapylon, restored using 85% of the original blocks
The tetrapylon, restored using 85% of the original blocks

However, it was quite interesting how some of the other individual ruins were still in quite in good shape, almost undamaged.  I left the last for the best – one of the biggest and classical stadiums with about 30,000 seats.

The stadium where some gladiator fights were also held
The stadium where some gladiator fights were also held

Unfortunately, I was unable to visit the on-site museum, about which I had heard good things, because it was a Monday and museums are usually closed on Mondays in Turkey. But that’s alright, since I will be definitely be visiting again!

Exhibits in the museum garden
Exhibits in the museum garden
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