Aspendos Located in the second kilometer of the road turning to North at the 44th km. of Antalya - Alanya highway, Aspendos is famous for having the best-preserved Roman Theatre not only in Anatolia but also in the whole Mediterranean world. The city is situated over a flat hill nearby the Köprüçay (Eurymedon) River, one of the largest rivers of the region. It is called Estvediys in the ancient coins descended from the 5th century B.C. The Anatolian-origin name proves that the city had inhabitants in ancient times. Today, Aspendos, which owes its access to the Mediterranean Sea and its development to the river nearby and the fertile lands, is visited by tourists mostly for its theatre and the waterways. Other remains from the city are situated over the hill behind the theatre. The hill is accessible through a path which has been set out in recent years. With its architectural features and well-preserved structure, Aspendos Theatre is one of the most prominent examples of the Roman Era theatres today. The building which was dedicated to Gods and emperors of the era exhibits the last forms of the Roman theatre construction and architectural techniques. Although influenced by older construction traditions building the lower parts of the cavea (auditorium) against the eastern hillside of the city, the upper cavea ascending over arches, the architectural harmonization of the stage building and the auditorium, covered semi-circular auditorium side entrances (parodos), and the parallel position of the side walls to the auditorium are typical features of Roman theatre construction. The upper and the lower levels of the cavea are separated by a horizontal passageway called diazoma. The auditorium has a total of 41 rows of seat, 21 in the lower section and 20 in the upper section. Over the main side entrances (parodos), there are lodges where notables of the city take seat. Surrounding the uppermost row of seating at the top of cavea is a colonnaded gallery with fifty-eight vaulted aches. One of the most spectacular buildings of its era, Aspandos Theatre had a capacity of 7-8 thousand people. It is clear from the inscriptions dated back to the era of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 A.D.) that Aspendos Thetre was built by the wealthy brothers Curtius Crispinus and Curtius Auspicatus. As apparently seen in the upper galleries, the entrance and the stage building, the theatre which is still in use was renovated in Seljuk era. The Great Leader Atatürk visited the site in 1930 and instructed the Aspendos Theatre to be 'renovated and reused'. Every year in summer months, 'Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival' is held in Aspendos Theatre under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Besides the theatre, one of the most spectacular remains in the city is the waterways. Aspendos waterway system is one of examples to the best-preserved antique waterways until today. The general view of the waterway is composed of water pressure towers situated in both edges of 1-kilometers-long vaulted bridge in north-south direction. The towers show deviation with 5 degree at north and 50 degree at south over the shaft on which they stand up. Surrounded with scattered city walls, the hill against which the theatre leans includes city centre buildings such as agora, basilica, monumental fountain, house of council, as well as constructions unearthed during excavations carried out by Antalya Museum such as monumental arch, road and Hellenistic temple. Such a small city owes its widespread currency throughout the Mediterranean Region and numerous monumental buildings to its well-being in economy. The most important export commodity was salt which was obtained from Kapria Lake and is used in cotton agriculture today. Along with other export commodities, the salt which was carried to other Mediterranean markets via the river suitable for transportation was the most important source of the city. Also, viticulture, wine-making, olive, olive-oil, other cereal crops and fresh fruit were other exported agricultural sources of the city. Many historians say that horses raised in Aspendos were the most popular ones in the Near East and the Mediterranean World. Moreover, it is recorded that textile products such as rug, etc. and very special furniture made of lemon tree were high-quality souvenirs particularly in Rome and other Mediterranean centres. The most famous celebrity throughout the city history is the philosopher Diodoros who was said to wonder around the city with bare feet, long hair and grubby clothes, and who was also said to be the representative of the Pythagoras philosophy. Aspendos is one of the cities that continued their existence in Byzantine and Seljuk periods. One can observe the Seljuk period restoration traces in the famous theatre particularly in the monumental gate placed in the middle of the front facade and over the stucco coat with red chevron motive against the gate. It is a common belief that it was Seljuk restoration and preservation that enabled the stage building which was thought to be built as caravansary for Seljuk Sultans remain solid today. The Great Leader Atatürk visited the site in 1930 and instructed the Aspendos Theatre to be 'renovated and reused'.
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