The vast and archaeological rich ancient city of Arykanda is harmoniously set in a magnificent natural position in the province of Antalya on the southern (Turquoise) coast of Turkey.
Built on a series of terraces on a rocky steep hillside overlooking stunning mountainous and valley landscape, Arykanda’s location resonates like mystical Delphi in Greece and is perhaps the most beautiful of ancient cities in the whole of Lycia, an ancient geopolitical region in Anatolia.
In antiquity Arykanda was a member (with voting rights) of the Lycian League and even minted its own coins. The city was well-known for its grand and ornate buildings, however according to ancient sources the citizens of Arykanda were somewhat lazy and in the habit of living lavishly beyond their means. It is said that they fell into debt; and it is believed they repaid their extravagance through new special taxes.
Arykanda was a small obscure settlement when it was invaded by the Persians in the 5th century BC. Like other Lycian cities, Arykanda heroically resisted the invasive powers, however they eventually succumbed to the might of the Persian Empire.
In 333 BC Alexander the Great arrived in Lycia (on his way to defeat the Persians) and was welcomed as a liberator by the citizens of Arykanda.
With Alexander came the irresistible force of Hellenism. Arykanda wholeheartedly adopted the Greek culture and way of life, which included the Greek language and it was transformed with all the buildings necessary for a Greek city.
Arykanda continued to grow and prosper after the untimely death of Alexander and remained under the control of the Ptolemaic dynasties. It briefly changed hands to Antiochus III and then to Rhodes around 190 BC (ally with Rome at the time). It was officially annexed to Rome in 43 Ad.
The city continued to prosper as a Greek city under Roman rule; however its growth was stalled when it was struck by two major earthquakes in 141 and 240 AD.
After a bitter struggle with the city’s pagans Christianity prevailed in Arykanda and the city became a bishop’s seat in the Byzantine age. However they city was on the decline and sometime between the ninth and eleventh century’s AD the site was abandoned due to the Arab invasions of the region.
Arykanda was rediscovered by British researcher and explorer Sir Charles Fellows in 1838.
The isolated archaeological site is large and well sign-posted. It contains a very impressive and rich array of excavated architectural remains from its glorious past including: Stadium, Theatre, Odeon, Agora’s, Baths, numerous Temples or Sanctuaries, Nymphaeums, Houses and Villas and at least 15 monumental tombs.
Further photos from Arykanda, Turkey can be viewed from my website – www.stevensklifas.com.
All Images, Text and Content on This Blog are Copyright Steven Sklifas
Image Above: Providing sweeping view of the surrounding landscape is the magnificently positioned and enchanting Hellenistic Theatre. Dating from around the 1st century BC, the theatre is extremely well-preserved and is entirely Greek in character. The cavea has 20 rows of seats built into the natural slop of the hillside and the stage building which consists of the Skene and Proskenion stands detached from the cavea. (Whereas with Roman period theatres, the cavea is supported by walls and the stage building is right up against the cavea).
Image Above: View of the orchestra and cavea of the enchanting Hellenistic Theatre which has 20 well-preserved rows of seats built into the natural slop of the hillside. The theatre dates from around the 1st century BC and is one of the finest examples of un-Romanised Hellenistic theatres in the region (Pinara has a superb Hellenistic theatre as well).
Image Above: The ancient Hellenistic stadium which is located just above the theatre at the highest terrace of the city at 810 meters above sea level. It has three rows of seating only on its North side and is approximately 117 metres long, however it may have been shortened by a landslide as the average size for a Greek stadium is 200 meters. It is believed to be built by the same architect as the theatre around the 1st century BC and then was restored in the Graeco-Roman age.
Image Above: View of an ancient sacred building with niches above the ancient Hellenistic stadium. Older than the stadium, the building is composed of eight niches and originally extended to the length of the stadium. It is thought to have been a sacred structure possible a temple where gods (Hermes and Heracles) were worshiped. On the ancient inscription found, it reads that every month a wealthy person names Hermaios organised sports competitions at the stadium dedicated to Hermes and Heracles.
Image Above: Sweeping view of the stunning landscape from above the Peristyle House Villa. It has a number of side rooms which are paved with fine mosaics. The House dates from the end of the 4th century AD.
Image Above: Mosaic found at Peristyle House Villa complex which dates from the end of the 4th century AD.
Image Above: View of a tomb styled in the form of a Classical Greek temple pediment at the Eastern Necropolis. The vault sits under the pediment and an ancient Greek inscription on the tomb gives the name of the owner as a man named Killortes, the son of Pigres. The Eastern Necropolis has the remains of at least 20 monumental tombs, many of them resembling Greek temples distyle in antis , some containing sarcophagi and most covered by vaulted roofs. They date from the Greco-Roman period.
Image Above: Close up view of the Medusa head relief that decorates the pediment facade of the Classical Greek temple type tomb at the Eastern Necropolis.
Image Above: Ancient Greek inscription on the temple type grave pediment at the Eastern Necropolis at Arykanda, Southern Turkey.
Image Above: Ruins of large Graeco-Roman tombs at the Eastern Necropolis. The tomb on the right is known as the Fellows Tomb, named so because of the tombs epitaphs helped the British archaeologist Sir Charles Fellows (1799-1860) identify the city. The Fellows tomb has a wonderfully ornate door lintel.
Image Above: View of the ornate door lintel of the so-called Fellows Graeco-Roman tomb. The lintel bears the badly eroded portrait relief of the tombs owner wearing a crown flanked by two-winged Nikes (Greek Goddess of Victory).
Image Above: View of the Grand Baths and Gymnasium Complex standing below the East Necropolis on a lower terrace of the ancient city. The Baths included the Apodyterium (Change room), Frigidarium (Cold baths), Tepidarium (Warm room), and a Caldarium (Hot baths).
Image Above: View at the Grand Baths complex of the Caldarium (Hot Baths) with broken hypocausts used for heating hot baths.
Image Above: Part view of the Grand Baths complex and stunning landscape surrounding Arykanda.
Image Above: View of ruins of walls with niches that were part of the Sebastian-Traian Temple. It was a large complex and it its centre there was a podium which is partly visible. An inscription found there says it was dedicated to “Emperor Nerva Traian Caesar Augustus Germanicus Dacicus”
Image Above: Panoramic overview of the wonderful landscape and of the ruins of the Sebastian-Traian Temple (Traineum). It was a large complex and it its centre there was a podium which is partly visible. Sitting lower and in front of the temple are a line of six rooms which were used as Latrines. An inscription found at the temple says it was dedicated to “Emperor Nerva Traian Caesar Augustus Germanicus Dacicus”
Image Above: Part view of the Hellenistic State Agora, a wide rectangular area that was surrounded by porticoes on three sides. It was used for various activities, including a place for merchants to exhibit their wares. It is believed that there was temple in the area where the lone tree is currently. It has direct access to the Odeon.
Image Above: View above the Odeon which has direct access to the State Agora via three-arched portals. The Odeon’s facade and terrace walls were covered in plaster and its floor was paved with mosaics. It would have been used for musical competitions and poetry readings. A statue of Roman Emperor Hadrian was found there.
Image Above: Part view of the Hellenistic Commercial Agora which is situated on the lower terrace of the Acropolis, the highest point of the city. Originally paved in smooth rectangular plates of white stone, the Agora was the social and economic heart of the city and twelve shops have been identified to have lined the northern side with a long wooden stoa in front of them. One shop has been identified as selling small sculptures and another sold food that required water. A number of coins have been found there dating from the 2nd century BC to the 4th century AD.
Image Above: South west view of the Helios Temple on the Acropolis upper terrace above the Commercial Agora. Dedicated to the Greek God of the Sun, the Temple was built by levelling the bedrock and measures 6.4 by 9.4 metres. Three steps of the Temple crepidoma are partially well-preserved, however no architectural elements remain from its main structure above the stylobate.
Image Above: Ruins of the Hellenistic Bouleuterion which is situated on the Acropolis beside the Commercial Agora. The seating was built by carving into the bedrock and it is believed that it had a wooden roof. The city’s council of citizens assembled here to confer and vote on public matters. Findings (over 100) that look like discs made of fired clay are thought to be ballots used; one type of disc for “yes” another type for “no” and the third type for “undecided”. The building had been rebuilt over three phases (from Hellenistic to Roman) due to the bedrock supporting the seating collapsing.
Image Above: Panoramic view of house of Saint Sebastion situated on the Acropolis beside the Commercial Agora. The building consists of two rectangular rooms, one large and the other small. It served two functions in different periods. Initially it was a cult centre and then served as private accommodations. It was dedicated to Septimus Severus and Severans and they along with Helios-Mithras were worshipped here.
Image Above: Ancient Greek inscription on a ruined building on Horseshoe Hill, northern section of the city of Arykanda, Southern Turkey. This area originally was reserved for a monumental grave of Hermaios, a Lykian Governor. Following the collapse of the monuments, a medium-sized bath was erected as was a ironsmiths workshop. It is not clear from the ruins to determine exactly which building was which.
All Images, Text and Content on This Blog are Copyright Steven Sklifas