Aphrodisias - History and Facts | History Hit


Dortyol, Aegean Region, Turkey

The ancient city of Aphrodisias was named after the Goddess of Love; Aphrodite. Established in what is now modern day Turkey in the 6th century BC, it expanded into the thriving capital of the surrounding region.

Peta Stamper

22 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Aphrodisias

Aphrodisias was once a thriving Hellenic and Roman city in what is now modern day Turkey. Today, Aphrodisias is an archaeological site, whose ruins include the remains of a beautiful ancient stadium.

Aphrodisias history

Established during the late Hellenistic period, Aphrodisias became a prosperous city under Roman rule from the 1st to the 5th century AD. In the 1st century BC, the city came under the personal protection of the Roman Emperor Augustus and many of the structures which can still be seen today date from that period and the following two centuries.

The city became an artistic centre as a result of its location near a marble quarry and the city is now littered with sculpture. Artists even travelled to Aphrodisias to take part in annual sculpting competitions. However the city fell to ruin after a series of earthquakes and was eventually abandoned in the 12th century.

Aphrodisias today

Upon arrival to the ruins you will be greeted by the renovated Tetrapylon, a gateway of Corinthian style columns decorated with reliefs of the god Eros and goddess Nike. The stadium, dating as a far back as the 1st century BC, is beautifully preserved and is one of the biggest ancient constructions still surviving with a capacity of 30,000.

The Temple of Aphrodite would have been in the busy heart if the city. Originally over 40 columns of the temple would have stood, a number of which have been realigned today, giving a great sense of the scale of the original building. The Temple was converted into a Basilica in the 5th century AD with the Roman conversion to Christianity.

There is also an onsite museum featuring thousands of pieces of Aphrodisian art including busts, decorative and religious sculpture, ceramics and a unique figure of the goddess Aphrodite herself.

Other features of the ruins include the Odeon, the baths of Hadrian and the 8,000-seater ancient theatre which was adapted for gladiatorial combat in the Roman period. Also, look out for some of the over 2,000 Roman inscriptions still decipherable around the ruin.

Getting to Aphrodisias

The easiest way of reaching Aphrodisias is driving: take the E330 towards Denizli and follow this scenic road up and around mountains until just before you get to Tavas, where there is a set of traffic lights with Aphrodisias (brown sign) signposted on the left. The car park is about a mile from the site but a free tractor ride takes you from the car park to the ticket office.

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