Side & Aspendos
Duration: 4 1/2 hours
Tour Code: ala-001
Discover two of Turkey's hidden treasures on this half-day tour that showcases the ancient cities of Side and Aspendos.
Leaving from the pier, it's a 1-hour drive to Side, a stunningly seaside village where Marc Antony and Cleopatra played out one scene in their romantic saga. Side, meaning pomegranate in a long-lost local language, was an important seaport at the beginning of the first Millennium.
Upon arrival, you will walk through broad colonnaded streets lined by ancient buildings and then to a central agora, where pirates once unloaded and sold their cargo. Passing through the agora, you can admire Side's 15,000-person theater which was built in the 2nd century AD. This theater, once home to legendary gladiatorial bouts, was converted into a massive open-air church in the 5th century. Three temples lie on the fringes of the theater, one of Dionysus, the god of wine, and two others dedicated to Apollo and to Artemis. Also included in your tour of Side is a visit to the Archaeological Museum.
Side's blossoming period was long ago, between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD, when the city prospered due to good relations with the Roman Empire. Earthquakes, Christian crusaders, and Arab raiders all took their toll on the city and sadly, it was completely abandoned by the 10th century, left to be buried by the sands. Recently, Side has enjoyed a remarkable resurrection, and is home to an eclectic but tasteful blend of ancient ruins and modern beachside hotels, cafés and nightclubs.
Following your exploration of Side, you will travel to Aspendos. Founded on a hilltop near the Eurymedon River, with the splendid backdrop of the Taurus Mountains, Aspendos was a major port city during the Roman period. To date, only parts of Aspendos have been excavated, but the Roman theater here is the best-preserved of any on the Mediterranean coast, barely deserving the perhaps all-too-familiar label, ruin. The theater was built in the 2nd century AD during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. You may remember him as the pensive, brooding, and finally strangled old Emperor in Gladiator, the movie. Or perhaps the more literary will recognize him as the author of Meditations, the very first and very depressing book in the Great Books series. The theater he had built here is dedicated to the gods of country and the imperial house, and holds over 20,000 people. As you tour this theater, it's hard not to imagine what a show here might have been like in the time of Marcus Aurelius.
Amongst other sites you will see in Aspendos is a marvelous aqueduct that is located near the theater and which can be seen from the road. At one time, this aqueduct supplied the city with its water source.
Following your time in Aspendos, you will travel back to the pier in Alanya where your tour concludes.
Please note: This tour includes a moderate amount of walking, at times over uneven surfaces and there are some steps to negotiate. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Lightweight clothing; a hat; sunglasses and flat, comfortable walking shoes are suggested. The order of the sites viewed or visited may vary.