Aphrodisias

AOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAphrodisias is an old Greek town, that is said to be pretty and not very overrun by tourists. Both these things are true. It was meant to be a small detour on our way from Pamukkale to the coast, however we decided to take the scenic route…
Instead of taking the highway to Aphrodisias we decided to drive about 30km through the back-lands on a smaller road. We felt quite confident that we might make good time with this, as the roads were reasonably well in shape and we were cutting diagonally where the highway made a large deturn.
BOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAut we didn’t quite account for the scale of our maps: What was a straight line on the map turned out to be a hundred and one small curves taking us up and down mountains. It was a beautiful and occasionally exciting drive through mountains, forests and small villages. It gave us a chance to see some of the rural Turkey, but it definitely wasn’t a short cut whatsoever. It took us nearly two hours to conquer these 30km.
We made it to Aphrodisias in the end and were greeted by a barrier. After fearing for a moment the site might be closed, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe were directed to a parking lot where a tractor was waiting to drive us to the site itself (by simply driving past the barrier on the wrong side of the road). I’m still wondering if this is as originally intended or if some crafty village people decided to make a quick buck from the tourists by forcing them to stop in their parking lot and pay for the parking (transport is then free of charge). The mandatory shops were there as well.
Aphrodisias itself is lovely, there are all the mandatory ruins: The amphitheatre, some temples, old houses, etc. But it has a somewhat special history as it was built almost entirely by one wealthy citizen.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Several items, like the Agora, where rebuilt in larger scales as he got wealthier. The city was famous for its masonry which can also be seen in the over-abundant statues and decorations found everywhere. The most elaborate house seems to have been a gallery to honour the ancestors. This building is currently being restored and very little of it actually staOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnds. Many of the surviving decorative borders are stocked man-high waiting for the day the renovations reach the point where they will be needed. The relief is exhibited in a museum on site and depicts more gods than I had heard of before, along with several emperors and other noted personalities I didn’t know either.
One of the things that OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmakes Aphrodisias special for me is that it isn’t very organised yet: You can walk and explore where you want and leave the paths almost anywhere. You can go looking for your own little treasures (not for taking, for photographing.. don’t get any silly ideas ;)). OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile they’re working hard at restoring the site a lot is still quite untouched: there are fallen over columns sticking out of the dirt, grass is growing everywhere and plenty of fig and apple trees are begging you to pick some. It is as if you were discovering the ruins yourself. But then you turn a corner and there’s a hut and the first bits of an antique roof that’s currently being reassembled.
The thing that really stood out to me was the gymnasium. I’ve never seen a gymnasium that well preserved. To be honest, most of the time I’ve only seen flat fields and a shield saying “This is where it used to be”. This one, however, is almost completely intact and probably prettier now with the grass growing than it was when the Greeks & Romans were still around.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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