Aspendos was a major port city in the Roman period
with the navigable river of Koprucay. Visitors usually only see the theater on
the hillside, however the aqueduct is also recommended.
Aspendus Theater is one of the largest ancient buildings in Anatolia and may well be accepted as the best preserved theater of antiquity. It was built by a local architect Xenon during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (2C AD). According to an inscription, it was a gift from the two brothers, Curtius Crispinus and Curtius Auspicatus, who dedicated this monument to the gods of the country and to the Imperial House.
The theaterís capacity is estimated to have been 20,000 people. The cavea has
a diameter of 95 m / 313 ft and a height of 30 m / 98 ft. The stage building was
three stories high. The uppermost facade was used to support an awning-like roof
that projected out over the stage, erected more for its acoustical effect than
for the shade it provided. The lower levels of the facade were decorated with a
double colonnade, ten pairs of columns on each level, Ionic capitals below and
Corinthian above. The central four columns on the upper level were surmounted by
a pediment with a relief of Dionysus. Other panels were also decorated with many
statues, portrait busts and reliefs. The doors under the stage building provided
access to the orchestra for animals. The paradoi, unlike Hellenistic theaters,
are roofed and parallel to the auditorium. The first row of the auditorium had
special seats reserved for high officials.
In the 13C during the Seljuk period the theater was restored to be a royal caravansary for the sultans who resided there on the way to their winter residences in Alanya. Red zigzag paintings are decorations from that period. There is a small museum to the left of the entrance exhibiting theater entrance tickets, coins and masks.