Aphrodisias, Turkey

The ancient city of Aphrodisias owes its name to the devoted worship of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Aphrodisias is known for its impressive sculptural and architectural works of art, which are amazingly well preserved to this day, including the best-preserved stadium of antiquity with seating for 30,000 spectators.

The ancient city of Aphrodisias on the southern Agaeis takes its name from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Her discovery about 100km from Pamukkale is considered the greatest archaeological sensation of the late 20th century. Aphrodisias is one of the top 10 sights in Turkey.


City of the Goddess of Love

At the time of its construction, around 700 BC, the Assyrians from the Tigris settled in this area. It owed its heyday to the Oracle of Delphi. The ruler of the time, Sulla, received the order to honour the goddess Aphrodite around 200 BC. His first official act was therefore to rename the city from Ninoe to Aphrodisias. This was only the beginning of an incomparable cult of Aphrodite.

The centre of Aphrodite worship also allowed trade and the economy to flourish, and the new wealth enabled the progress of science and art. Sculpture in particular flourished due to the nearby quarries. Marble statues from Aphrodisias were soon supplied to the entire Roman Empire.

For many years the works of art stood firm, the inhabitants of Aphrodisias did not want to incur the wrath of their goddess and defended their temples to the death. Aphrodite and her city were finally "defeated" by Christianity and Aphrodisias also lost its importance with the fall of the Roman Empire. The temples were built over with churches, under whose foundations the original columns were found centuries later.

Aphrodisias today

Many of the masterpieces of architecture and sculpture created at that time can still be seen today. For example, some of the columns of the Temple of Aphrodite, probably the best-preserved ancient stadium with a capacity of 30,000 spectators, unimaginable for those times, including the imperial box, the theatre, the agora, the ancient meeting place, framed by the former bishop's palace made of blue marble, ancient bathhouses and the ruins of the famous sculpture school.

There is also a tomb from the later period. In a modest marble tomb right next to the imposing tetrapylon, a gateway in several architectural styles with 4 columns on each side, lies buried Prof. Dr. Kenan Erim, who had dedicated half his life to the excavation of Aphrodisias.

Among other things, he arranged for the relocation of the dwellings that stood on the excavation site in the early 1960s to make excavation possible in the first place. Today, the excavations are managed by the University of Oxford.

Relics that could be transported were housed in the purpose-built Aphrodisias Museum to protect them from the weather. Among the treasures are monuments, imperial busts, statues and reliefs.


Related links:

Official website of Aphrodisias