Side Ruins and Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Side Ruins and Museum

Kumkoy, Mediterranean Region, Turkey

Impressive ruins and a fascinating museum, Side hosts a wealth of Graeco-Roman remains with the stunning theatre being a particular highlight.

Peta Stamper

24 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Side Ruins and Museum

Turkey’s Side Ruins and Museum are among of the most spectacular that remain in the modern world, showcasing hundreds of years of Greek life in the Roman Empire.

With ancient ruins dotted among the thriving modern city, Side truly combines a hands-on and hands-off approach to understanding the site’s jaw-dropping history and is well worth a visit to those seeking ancient exploration.

Side Ruins and Museum history

Side’s coastal location made it a desirable trading port and despite the prominence of piracy, Greek settlers flocked to the city around the 6th century BC. Unusually, this resulted in the preservation rather than destruction of the native culture and Side became a cultural melting pot; many original inscriptions found at the site are written in the indecipherable native language.

Hellenic influence in Side grew, however, and it was under Roman rule that the city really flourished – even gaining repute as the best slave market of the period. Many of the Roman ruins still remain, and the city has become a popular destination for eager explorers interested in discovering the rich history of the ancient Mediterranean.

Side Ruins and Museum today

Today, this ancient metropolis showcases the skill with which the Romans were able to seamlessly combine elements of Greek culture, which they so admired, with their own recognisable Roman stamp of identity. Certainly, when Titus Flamininus declared the ‘freedom of the Greeks’ in 196 BC he would not have imagined that the two cultures would have merged so comprehensibly centuries later.

Reflecting this combined cultural legacy, and ranking among the most prominent sites at Side is the 2nd century AD ancient theatre. A unique example of fusion design, it was born out of this combination of Hellenic plans and Roman construction.

Moreover, the theatre’s decoration dates to the period of the Antonine Emperors and the exterior columns tell the story of Dionysus (or Bacchus in Roman), the Greek God of wine and patron of the theatre.

Among Side’s other fascinating remains are the temples to Apollo and Athena, which are picturesquely perched at the very tip of Side’s harbour. The sight of these ancient columns set against the picture-perfect Mediterranean sea makes for an ideal sightseeing spot.

If that isn’t enough, the archaeological site at Side also features the remnants of the colonnaded main street, Roman baths, a nymphaeum and a Hellenic gate that decorates the exterior walls. The nearby museum, open during the summer, is itself housed within an ancient 2nd century baths complex and contains many of the 20th century finds.

Getting to Side Ruins and Museum

On the coast, both the ancient and modern settlements at Side are off the D400, just over an hour drive from Antalya via Mersin.

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