Aspendos Archaeological Site

Location: 50 km (31 mi) east of Antalya, Muğla Province   Map

Open: 8am- 7pm (summer)

8:30am- 5pm (winter)


Aspendos (Ancient Greek Ἄσπενδος) was an ancient city in Pamphylia in Asia Minor on the southern coast of what is now Turkey, near the village of Büyükbelkiz, about 5 km east of Serik. The large theater from Roman times is one of the best preserved in antiquity. It is still used for performances today. The city of Aspendos has not been excavated. All of the towering buildings date from the Roman heyday of the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, when Aspendos was an important Pamphylian trading center. The location is 46 kilometers east of Antalya on the road to Alanya.



According to Greek tradition, Aspendos is said to have existed around the 12th century BC. It may have been founded by settlers from Argos in the Peloponnese. The legendary seer Mopsos, who was also revered as the city father of cities like Perge, was considered one of the founders.

The coins of Aspendos from the 5th to 3rd centuries BC BC show the name Estwediiys (Greek ΕΣΤFΕΔIIΥΣ), which probably refers to an originally Hittite foundation, as it can be assumed that it was the local, Pamphylian name of the place. The letter F is the Digamma (δίγαμμα), which was originally the sixth letter of the Greek alphabet and had the phonetic value [w]. The Digamma was lost early on in the Attic-Ionian dialect and is no longer present among the Greek letters taught in school.

The city had a very eventful history and was under Lydian, Persian, Greek, Ptolemaic, Seleucid, Roman, Byzantine and Seljuk rule over the course of 800 years. For a time in the Byzantine period the city was called Primoupolis. Little is known about its Greek history - future excavations can certainly provide more information about the pre-Roman era.

The Battle of Eurymedon is documented in literature. As a port city, Aspendos was previously connected to the sea by the Eurymedon River (today Köprü Çayı) and thus achieved lasting prosperity. In the last battle of the Persian Wars, the Athenian general and fleet leader Kimon defeated there in 466 BC. BC the Persians in a double battle on land and at sea. Since then, Eurymedon politically marked the separation of spheres between the eastern Persian area of influence and Greek Asia Minor in the west. Under Alexander the Great, Aspendos became tributary after initial resistance. In Roman times, the city was able to develop a predominantly good relationship with Rome and reached its greatest prosperity as an important trading center in the region. In particular, the export of wine, oil, salt and horses brought Aspendos wealth and prosperity. Aspendos was the seat of a bishop; The titular diocese of Aspendus of the Roman Catholic Church goes back to the diocese.



The Theater of Aspendos is part of the ancient city of Aspendos. It is very well preserved and is still used today for opera and ballet festivals. Luciano Pavarotti and José Carreras, among others, appeared. In 2005 an open-air edition of Wetten, that...? took place here. instead of.

As an alternative, the “Gloria Aspendos Arena” was built near the ancient theater in Aspendos because the ancient theater is no longer available for such performances for security reasons. Experts and the local museum management were no longer responsible for the damage that the ancient theater suffered to the building structure due to bass vibrations during open-air events, so they decided to take this step.

The theater is a Roman building whose stage house has been preserved in its entirety. The inside of the former eight meter wide wooden stage was decorated with rich column decorations, beams, friezes, rosettes and ornaments, of which today's remains still give a good impression. The central gable in the middle of the wall has been preserved and shows a relief of Dionysus. Below the top of the wall you can still see the inlets on which a wooden structure rested, which spanned the stage as weather protection and presumably ensured even better acoustics.

On the outside of the stage house there is an inscription written in ancient Greek and Latin. She names the imperial period of Marcus Aurelius (161–180) as the construction period, Zeno as the architect and the Curtius brothers as the theater's founders. The Cavea has 41 rows of seats divided by an aisle (diazoma) and can accommodate up to 20,000 spectators. Since the Seljuks used the theater as a caravanserai in the Middle Ages, it was continually repaired and restored after earthquakes. This explains the good state of preservation compared to the surrounding buildings.

The theater was one of the public buildings in the lower city. Further south are the remains of the thermal baths and the sports facility and the gymnasium. To the northeast is the less well-preserved stadium. To the west of the theater lies the Acropolis with the upper city of Aspendos. It was secured with its own wall, and a city gate is still preserved.

In addition to numerous cisterns, the water supply was ensured by an aqueduct that is still well preserved and leads from the northern plain to the city.


Remaining city remains

The still largely towering Roman building remains on the Acropolis hill are grouped on three sides around a rectangular square. On the long sides to the west and east it is bordered by elongated market halls. The eastern building is 142 meters long, ends with an exedra at the south end and ends in the north with a mighty, 15 meter square building. The two-story facade of a nymphaion, which was probably fed by the aqueduct, dominates the north side of the square. Niches for sculptures and cornices in front for columns and gables testify to the originally magnificent furnishings. The building behind it on the northwest corner probably served as a Bouleuterion (German council hall). There is also a temple above the stadium on the Temple Mount; It is still unclear which deity it was dedicated to. Since Athena and Zeus are depicted on coins from Aspendos (around 450 BC), the temple could have been dedicated to one of these deities.

The upper town is partly accessible with stony but easily accessible trails (even in winter after heavy rain) and sufficient signs. The area, which was otherwise largely left to its own devices, has now been cleared of undergrowth and bushes.



The first silver coins show armed hoplites as a symbol of the military on one side, and Triskeles on the other side (series 1, 460–420 BC). The letters used are Ε, ΕΣ, ΕΣΤ, ΕΣΤFΕ, ΕΣΤFΕΔIIΥ. In German, the latter means a piece of money made from ΕΣΤFΕΔΥΣ. Later coins show two wrestlers on one side, a slinger and the well-known Triskeles on the other side (series 2–4, 400–250 BC). Even later, the goddess Athena, Heracles, Zeus and Alexander the Great are depicted (row 5, 200–150 BC). This is also where AΣ appears for the first time for AΣΠΕNΔOΣ. The coins from Roman times bear the symbols of the respective Caesar and the inscription AΣΠΕNΔION (row 6, 200–300 AD).


Other attractions in the area

Nearby, the almost 260 meter long Eurymedon Bridge (Köprüpazar Köprüsü) crosses the river of the same name. The Seljuk pointed arch building in its current form rests on Roman foundations.