Vita Gazette

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The Traces of the Roman Empire

The historical structure of the city of Rome: Aspendos

Vita gazette – Once upon a time, the ancient city of Aspendos had a good king. He was loving his daughter, famous for her beauty, and his country. One day, he had an idea for his two loves. He declared to his people that would marry his daughter to the person who rendered the most advantageous service to the city. When the king’s announcement was heard, an exciting race began in the city. Single men began carrying out projects they thought would help the city to marry the king’s daughter. The twin brother architects of the city also participated in this competition. They created two architectural works, both of which are “still competing” for splendour and functionality. One of these architectural works that everyone left behind was the “Aspendos aqueduct” and the other was the “Aspendos Theater”.

The king first examined the aqueducts. He was struck by the aqueducts that bring water from distant lands to the city and meet the water needs of all of Aspendos. It is both gorgeous and functional. But our king, who is known to be righteous, set out to see the theatre building, even though his heart was in favour of choosing the aqueducts.

The king was also fascinated by the theatre. It was a magnificent masterpiece. But his mind and heart were still in the aqueducts. He started wandering around the theatre. He went up the stairs. From there, while observing the entire theatre from above, his senses were frightened by a whisper. A voice was saying, “His daughter must marry  to me.” Turning his head towards the sound, he saw a man standing in the centre of the stage below. When he looked carefully, he saw that this person was the architect of the theatre. From the scene below, the architect was saying: “I am in love with the king’s daughter. Inspired by my love for her, I made this theatre. The king should give me his daughter.” he whispered again. The architect whispers from below, the king listens from above. This acoustic theatre, ahead of its time, which will make Aspendos’voice heard far away, has a great influence on the king; While choosing the aqueducts, the king prefers the theatre and decides to marry her daughter to the architect Zenon. These two magnificent structures still retain their existence in the historic town of Aspendos. The magnificent theatre that carries the voice of Aspendos far away continues today to host important concerts and festivals.

Legends, stories and myths don’t end when the ancient period is the subject! But these two architectural works that compete with each other in their beauty and that emerged with the rivalry of two twin brothers are real and still alive …

We are in Antalya, Turkey’s own coast, to see this fascinating city that has been the subject of legends, bearing the footprints of the Roman Empire. From here, we will pass to the ancient city of Aspendos. We will see these two architectural works, each more beautiful than the other, which are the subject of legends, with our own eyes. We will also participate in the competition…

The central part of the region where the city of Antalya is located today was known as Pamphylia, which in ancient times meant “The land of all tribes”. The most important and well-known ancient city of Antalya and the Pamphylia region was Aspendos. It was one of the rich cities of ancient times, founded by in the 10th century. The city was founded on two hills, one large and the other small. Aspendos today has an international reputation as having the best-preserved Roman theatre. Köprüçay, which passes close to Aspendos, and the Eurymedon River, as it was formerly called, is another important city value. The first name of Aspendos, as evidenced by the minted coins, was Esivediiys. Today’s word Aspendos is formed by the combination of the Persian words Aspa and Spanta, which means “Horse and Holy Place”.

The main structures of the town of Aspendos are located above the river bed, that is, in the upper town. So we have to climb the hill. In ancient times, the upper town was accessed through 3 monumental gates. One of them has survived to this day. We started climbing the street next to the Ancient Theater. This stubborn door appeared first. Under this gate passes one of the main roads that enter the city. As we walk, we see the sewer system laid under the road. This demonstrates the importance given to the infrastructural system present in all Roman cities.

From Troy to Rome

Aspendos witnessed many wars along with other cities of Pamphylia, which were his contemporaries. The Pamphylia region is believed to have been colonized by the Greeks from Argos (the northwestern city of the Peloponnese) in 1000 BC. But there are also those who associate its foundation with the survivors of the legendary Trojan War. Indeed, Karatepe Castle and the surrounding landscape significantly overlap with Homer of Troy’s descriptions in the Iliad. According to this theory, Homer had combined his knowledge of the Trojan legend into a historical account, using his own experience as a scribe in the service of the Assyrians in Karatepe and his access to the writings. According to some, the name of the city derives from the hero named Aspendos.

Rich coins indicate that in the 5th century BC Aspendos was the most important city in Pamphylia, but although it was a rich trading centre, it did not play an important role as a political power. Its political history during the colonization period was limited to the Pamphylia region. It remained for a period under the rule of Lycia, Persia and Athens. After Alexander the Great took Phaselis, which was conquered by the Persians, he captured Perge, an important city in Pamphylia, and BC. He also entered Aspendos in 333. The city was later dominated by the Ptolemies and Attalides, and finally by the Romans with the death of Attalus III. It began to decline during the Byzantine period. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the city no longer resisted earthquakes, epidemics and pirate attacks, and after the seventh century, it was withdrawn from the stage of history.

Timeless monuments of Rome

During the Roman occupation, the city expanded and was filled with monuments, and became an important trading centre for salt, oil, wheat, wool, oil, wine and horses. The Aspendos ruins that we can still admire today date back to this period. The wide range of its coins throughout the ancient world indicates that, by the 5th century BC, Aspendos had become the most important city of Pamphylia. At that time, according to Thucydides, the Eurymedon river was navigable up to Aspendos.

The earliest period building remains that can be identified in the city is the three-storey market building to the east of the agora. Other structures are from the Roman and post-Roman periods. Among these structures, there is a second two-storey market building, a Christian Basilica, a fountain, an Odeon, a monumental gate, a temple, aqueducts, Roman baths and a theatre, as well as a bridge built during the Ottoman period. The siphons of the aqueducts, one of the most important structures of Aspendos, are unique and have been the most studied structure. The theatre building, which is shown as one of the best-preserved theatres in the world, is one of the most important structures of the Ancient City. According to the inscription on the south parados, the building is from the period of Marcus Aurelius and was built by the architect Zenon, the son of Theodoros of Aspendos.

Ancient Roman theater

The Ancient Roman Theater, built by the Romans in the 2nd century AD, has survived to this day thanks to the fact that the seating rows and the stage building were built as a whole. The Ancient Theater hosts various cultural events and festivals from time to time. It was built during the reign of King Marcus Aurelius by the “architect Zenon”, son of Theodore of Aspendos. We enter the theatre through the entrance door, built much later. However, the original entrance is located at either end of the stage building. The theatre is shaped like a semicircle, with 20 rows of seats below and 21 above. The theatre has a capacity of 7000 people. But when other areas are used, this number reaches a capacity of 7500 people. At the top of the theatre seating, there are 59 arched galleries. According to protocol, the lodges above the entrances on both sides belonged to the imperial family and the holy virgins. Starting from the orchestra and going up, the first row was reserved for senators, judges and ambassadors, and the second row was reserved for the other notables of the city. Other parts were open to all citizens. The women usually sat in the upper rows. There are the remains of a theatre, basilica, agora, nymphaeum, and a 15-kilometre (9.3 miles) Roman aqueduct. Nearby is also the Roman bridge of Eurimedonte, rebuilt in the 13th century.

The Roman Aqueducts

The Aspendos aqueducts, about 1 kilometre long and 15 meters high, are located in the northwestern part of the city. About 25 km. It carried water from the mountains of the far north to the city. The Aspendos aqueducts, a masterpiece of Roman hydraulic engineering, the artificial barriers created in the watercourse and the outflow of holes in the pipes, met Aspendos’

water needs. The siphons in the aqueducts slow down the water coming from a distance of about 25 kilometres to press the city and make it proportional.

In the ancient city of Aspendos, there are not only Roman aqueducts and ancient Roman theatre. As we have listed above, an entire city awaits its visitors, from the basilica to the bazaar and stadium. To live the spirit of the times … Us? We were amazed by the splendour and functionality of both works. We couldn’t make a decision. According to a legend, not even the king could decide. And he cut his daughter in the middle and gave her to two architects. We think it’s not fair enough to cut out the daughter he loves so much. But it is a fact that both the ancient theatre and the aqueducts are too perfect architectural works to decide …

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