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Aspendos TurkeyAspendos is located in the Pamphylian plain at 47 km east of Antalya near the village of Belkis. In ancient times Aspendos was a river port city that, according to legend, was founded by colonists from Argos - Greece when they returned from the Trojan War. More probably its roots were Phoenician or Hittite. Like many other cities in the fertile plain of Pamphylia, Aspendos fell under the sovereignty of the Lydians and Persians. The city first came to prominence in 479 BC when the Persian navy was destroyed by the Greeks, under the command of Cimon, in a bloody naval battle at the mouth of the nearby Eurymedon River (present Köprüçay meaning Bridge River). Afterward, the fighting continued on land. Once again, though significantly outnumbered, the Greeks defeated the Persians. After passing into and out of Greek and Persian hands, Aspendos submitted to Alexander the Great ca. 333 BC.

After Alexander's death, Aspendos became part of the Seleucid kingdom of Syria. Later, the city became part of the kingdom of Pergamon (Bergama) and eventually was ruled by the Romans for a long period. Aspendos had its most prosperous period in the 2nd and 3rd century AD. From ancient sources we learn that silver and gold embroidered tapestries, ornaments, and furniture made from lemon tree wood, wine and horses were exported. During the first and second centuries AD, significant building activities took place.

Presently, Aspendos is famous for its impressive Roman theater, the best preserved in Asia Minor. The theater was constructed in the 2nd century AD by the architect Zeno during the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD). The theater could accommodate 10,000 - 12,000 spectators and it was maintained by the Byzantines and Seljuks. After Atatürk visited Aspendos he commanded the restoration of the theater. Presently, it is the stage of the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival from mid-June to early July. Next to the theater, a path leads up to the acropolis with a nymphaeum and basilica. Most of the site is in ruins and of the massive nymphaeum remains only the front wall, measuring 32.5 m in width and 15 m in height.


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