APHRODISIAS

The Roman city of Aphrodisias, set among beautifully scenic mountains, in one of the most picturesque and ancient sacred sites in Turkey.  Evidence suggests that, as early as 5800 BCE, Neolithic humans came here to worship the Mother Goddess.  In Greek times, the site was dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and fertility.  The site took the name Aphrodisias under Roman rule, during the second century BCE, and the Temple of Aphrodite was constructed in the first century CE.  Today the temple to the city’s patron goddess is well-preserved and partially restored.

Enter the site by the Tetrapylon, a lovely second-century gateway with four groups of four columns (from which it gets its name).  The Aphrodisias stadium is one of the best-preserved from the Roman era and sports a unique elliptical shape.  It was designed specifically to host athletic contests.  The city also houses extensive ruins of a large theater that was completed in 27 BCE; nearby is the odeon, a building used mainly as a concert hall and lecture room.  The orchestra and stage building of the odeon were richly adorned with mosaics and statues, now on display in the site’s museum.  A fairly large architectural complex constructed in the late Roman period near the Temple of Aphrodite is thought to have been used in Byzantine times as the residence of a governor or bishop, suggesting that the temple and its environs preserved its status as a religious and administrative center well into Christian times.

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