Pretty much the first thing I do when I decide I want to visit a “big” area, is see if there are day trips to “small” areas from that place. On my visit to Pamukkale in Turkey, I discovered that the small ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias was nearby. One needed a car to get there but I had no plans to rent one – so I found a small tour company that would take me. Not many people visit this place, which is sad as it is fantastic, but it was great for me as we practically had the site to ourselves!
Famous for its Temple of Aphrodite, the city's patron goddess of luuuurve, Aphrodisias thrived from the 1st century BC until the 6th century BC. Wandering around the site, it is very obvious how the city made its money – marble. It’s everywhere in various forms. There was even a school of sculpture here that was very prolific; many pieces of their work can still be seen here.
What to See:
Tetrapylon: Built in 3rd century AD, this structure looks like it was a temple itself but it was “only” a gate. You could imagine the awe people would have had passing through such a magnificent gate on their way to the Temple of Aphrodite!
Temple of Aphrodite: This temple formed the centre of the city when it was built about 1st century BC. However, all that is left are some columns and foundations. Lots of carved marble and stone scattered all over the place. One interesting fact about this temple is that it was converted into a church in the 5th century.
Baths: Built in the 2nd century BC. It features a naked statue with a chunk taken out of his butt.
Theatre: Seats about 8000 people and used for things such as animal or gladiator fights.
Museum: Many of these statues I’ve not seen before in any other museums I’ve visited. Nice to see SOMEONE managed to keep their artworks! Well worth a look.
Tip I: Check out the photography exhibit! Great way to see how people managed to build a village among the ruins of this city. Though, if you are an archeologist, it would probably make you cry.
Tip II: This city is a great day trip from Pamukkale. You can rent a car or join a tour that comes out here for the day. I was the only person who signed up for my tour – there was a couple who signed up for the ride only but once there, they decided to stick around with me and my guide. A good choice as signage isn’t all that plentiful. Also, if you book a tour, the guide will likely be agreeable to drop you off at the Denzili bus station on the way back to Pamukkale saving you time and money! I did this to get to Selcuk.
Tip III: Have some coins on you in order to tip the shuttle driver who ferries you from the parking lot to the Aphrodisias site and back again.
Tip IV: Museum security staff does not allow you to have big bags or backpacks – you’ll have to leave them at the front…in the open. I suggest you have a little reusable shoulder bag (grocery bag style) in which you can tote about your valuables.