Aspendos Turkey, the former ancient city of Pamphylia, is noted for its magnificent Roman ruins and the famous Aspendos Theater. The site is located in what is now southwestern Turkey and is frequented by thousands of visitors each year because it is home to the best Roman ruins in Turkey. The site is situated on the banks of the River Eurymedon and is surrounded by two hills that are filled with ruins and fantastic Roman structures. There are various tours of Aspendos that visitors can take, including self-guided and guided options, and all the ruins are accessible by foot. The grand site provides wonderful knowledge and insight on the Roman stronghold and influence in the Turkish area.
Aspendos Turkey was settled in the early fourth century BC and quickly became an important trading post with its access to the water and the minting of coins. The city then became occupied by Alexander the Great in 333 BC because it refused to pay tribute to the Macedonian king. During the Battle of Sipylum of 190 BC Aspendos became an ally of the Roman Empire, and Aspendos officially entered the empire in 133 BC. Although this transition of power had beneficial impacts on the city, it was plundered many times by rebels and enemies who took their artistic treasures that are now lost. Under the Roman Empire, Aspendos continued to mint coins and saw an increase in trade at its river port and large improvements in infrastructure.
The most famous structure at the archaeological site is the Aspendos Theater. It is carved out of one of the sides of the hill and was designed by the Roman architect Zeno. The theater was built in honor of the famous emperor Marcus Aurelius, who ruled from 161 to 180 AD. The Aspendos Theater remains largely intact and is the most finished structure in all of Roman Turkey. The theater was built of calcareous stone and brick was added later on. There are 39 rows of seats and when packed to capacity, the structure could hold about 20,000 spectators. The theater at Aspendos Turkey is also blessed with an elegant gallery and shaded arcade at the top of the structure for those with money. The acoustics here are amongst the best in the world and plays and performances are still put on throughout the year for visitors to enjoy. The annual Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival is also held at the theater from mid-June through August.
On the other hill of Aspendos, only ruins remain. During its wealthy times, an acropolis, basilica, and council chambers were all located on the hill. The hill, referred to as the Great Hill, also provides visitors with great surrounding views of the countryside and of the aqueducts that were constructed to bring fresh water to the Roman settlement. The aqueduct is still largely intact and is made up of kilometers of arches that stretch to the mountains in the north. It is a splendid site to see the aqueduct emerging from the now ruins of the once prosperous city.
Tours of Aspendos are included in many organized excursions put on by travel agencies, tour groups, and school groups. The majority of these tours include trips to the nearby ruins of Perge, Sillyon, and Side. All of these former great cities were part of ancient Pamphylia and went through numerous conquerors and emperors. The ruins at Perge are the best out of the group as it experienced wealth and flourished during the Roman period. Some of the structures here are still intact whereas the sites at Sillyon and Side are predominantly in ruins. Tours of Aspendos are highly recommended for those interested in learning the diverse history of the area and the meaning of each structure and exploring all of the ruins Aspendos has to offer.