ASPENDOS

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.

History of Aspendos
According to ancient tradition the city was founded by Mopsus in the 13C BC. In the 6C BC the Lydian King Croesus took Aspendus. After Cyrusís victory over Croesus in the same century the city became Persian. In the 5C BC Aspendus minted its own silver coins. Alexander the Great took over from the Persians in the 4C BC. In the Roman period Aspendus entered into good relations with Rome.

The Site
Aspendus was founded on a hilltop near the Eurymedon river and it later spread down to the plain. The remains on the hilltop have not been systematically excavated. There are remains of an agora, a basilica, a market hall with shops and a nymphaeum on the hilltop. Water was brought to the city through a marvelous aqueduct, remains of which can be seen from the road further away from the theater. Remains of two water towers belonging to the aqueduct can still be seen. The aqueduct was the most impressive building after the theater.

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.
The fact that the stage building is as high as the upper end of the colonnaded arcade surmounting the auditorium proves that it is a Roman theater. This is because the skene and auditorium is one complex and not separate constructions as in the Hellenistic style.

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.

Aspendos