excavations led in Aprhodisias by Turkish archaeologist
Kenan Erim have revealed marvels. The name of
the ancient city has the same root as “aphrodisiac”
a word that derives from the name of Aphrodite,
the Goddess of Beauty and Love who was also the
symbol of life and fertility in all its aspects.
This city was dedicated to her. Founded in the
5C BC, the capital of Caria was very florishing
during the Roman period
because it had obtained, from Mark Antony, the
status of free city as well as the inviolability
of the sanctuary. Aphrodisias was a religious,
artitistic and literary center, and its school
of sculpture was extremely reputed (sculptures
were carved from Carian marble, a white,grayish
blue local marble). The licentious and very popular
cult of Aphrodite survived Christianity
during a long time. This is why the Byzantines
changed the name Aphrodisias into “Stavropolis”
(the city of the Cross) and the temple into a
The most significant vestiges are:
The Propylon orTetrapylon is a monumental
gateway built in the 2C AD under the reign of
Hadrian, at an intersection where a sacred way
led to the Temple of Aphrodite.
The Stadium built in the 1C AD, is the
best preserved in Anatolia. It is 262m/240yards
long and 59m/54yards wide. 22 rows of seats have
a capacity of 30,000 spectators.
The Temple of Aphrodite from the late
Hellenistic period, was originally designed as
an Ionic Temple with 40 columns. It was modified
and converted into a basilica by the Byzantines
in the 5C AD. The goddess Aphrodite altogether
was the compassionate mother of all life who brought
fertility and relief from sickness, and the goddess
of love and war.
The Bishop’s Residence was an ancient
Roman governor’house later used by the Byzantine
The Odeon is a semi-circular building
with 12 tiered rows of seats decorated with lion’s
feet. It had a capacity of 1,700 people. The orchestra
was ornemented with mosaics and statues which
can be seen in the museum. The Odeon was linked
to the Agora by a porticoed area adorned with
statues of important inhabitants of the city.
The Baths of Hadrian (beginning of the
2C AD) were an imposing center composed of five
large galeries, a palestra ( a columnated courtyard)
and many rooms intended for the different stages
of the Roman bath (caldarium, tepidarium, sudatorium...)
The Portico of Tiberius has its central
area occupied by a huge pool. The portico with
its Ionic colonnade, may have been a gymnasium.
The theatre with a seating capacity of
10,000 people, was built in the late Hellenistic
period around 100BC, and was modified at the end
of the 2C AD.
The Tetrastoon from where people had access
to the theatre, was a meeting and a market place
with small shops.
The theatre Baths with the Imperial Hall.
The Sebasteion (1C AD) which means “august
and magestic”, was a courtyard with two parallel
storied porticoes on both sides, where the emperor
The Museum contains an impressive collection
The Temple of Aphrodite
Located near Denizli, Pamukkale which means
“ Cotton Castle”, is a unique naturel site
that has always been reputed for the healing powers
of its calcite-laden hot springs (35 C/102 F). The
waters leaving their limestone deposits have created
an unreal landscape, made up mineral forests, petrified
waterfalls and a series of terraced basins and fascinating
The ancient city of Hierapolis was founded in the 2C
BC by Pergamum king Eumenes II who wanted to compete
with Laodicea. It was named after Hiera who was
the wife of Telephos, the legendary foundater of
Pergamum. In 133
BC, the city was bequeathed to the Romans.
Destroyed by a terrible earthquake in 17 AD, the
city was rebuilt, and then became a very prosperous
thermal resort until the 3C . Like in Laodicea,
a large population of Jewish people who lived here,
contributed to the expansion of the Christian
belief. During the Byzantine
period it was the diocesan center.
Pamukkale has been declared by the UNESCO
to be one of the Eminent Cultural Heritages of
The archaeological site includes:
The Necropolis is
the largest ancient cemetery in Anatolia with approximatively
1,200 graves of different shapes: tombs, sarcophagi,
tumuli... There are many Christian tombs because
the faithful wished to be burried near the place
where the Apostle Philip was martyred.
The Martyrium, built
in octogonal shape in the 5C on the spot where he
is said to have been stoned to death.
The Basilica (
5C) was originally a 2C-3C transformed Roman bath.
The Triple Archwas
the northern gateway and was flanked by two circular
The Colonnated Street is
The Public Roman Baths
are huge buildings were the local museum has been
The Sacred Pool contains
many fragments of columns lying in the water. It
is not to be missedbecause
today it is located in the Pamukkale Motel.
An unusual swim in the thermal water through the
remains of the columns (or a glimpse) is recommended.
The theatre with
a seating capacity of 20,000 people, is a 2C well
preserved building where reliefs depicted Emperor
Septimus Severus and Dionysos.