Priene Archaeological Site

Priene is an ancient city situated in Ionia region of Turkey. The closest modern settlement to Priene archaeological park is a town of Güllübahce.


Location: Ionia Map

First settled: by the Greek colonists in the 11th century BC

Open: 8am- 7pm daily

8am- 5pm daily (winter)


Description of Priene Archeological Site

The settlement is spread on the slopes of a mountain. Upper part of Priene is known as an Acropolis. Most of residents lived in the Lower City below. Priene layout is a perfect plan of straight streets that run in the North- South as well as East West direction. Most important sites of the city include ancient amphitheater that used by ancient residents for play performances, religious ceremonies and discussions. Central Plaza of Priene was the heart of political, commercial and spiritual life of the city. You can find temple of Zeus (main Greek god) as well as a magnificent temple of Athena, goddess of Wisdom and daughter of Zeus. According to Greek pagan religion she was born without conception and unlike other gods and goddesses of the ancient pantheon she emerged from the head of her father. Judging by the size of the complex the cult of Athena was the central in the lives of Priene's residents. Archeologists also discovered presence of other religions in this cosmopolitan and vibrant city. One of the sanctuaries was devoted to Egyptian gods. Additionally there was a small Jewish community that once lived in Priene. They constructed small synagogue as a cultural and social center for its diaspora.


History of Priene Archaeological Site

Priene was first settled by the Greek colonists in the 11th century BC. There have been much speculation on the origin of the name, but it is probably has pre- Greek origin. The origin of the first settlers have also been hotly debated by historians. Some claim that it was settled by Athenians under leadership of Aegyptus, other claim it was established by the Greeks from Thebes under leadership of Philotas. While others site some Greek sources that claim that Priene was actually found by the Amazon queens. These fierce women- warriors have been a subject of many Greek myths. Whatever might the true story, Priene grew around Samsun Mountain also known as Mikale. Today the city is surrounded by open plans and hills, but in the ancient times it actually stood on the shores of the Aegean Sea that was source for food as well as a means of transportation. Over centuries river Maeander that you still can see flowing past abandoned ruins silted the harbor, making it unusable.

In the 7th century BC Priene was sacked and badly damaged by the armies of Ardys of Lydia, but it quickly regained its previous importance and role in the region. Being part of the Ionian League its residents attempted to preserve its independence despite increased presence of other great powers in the region. Finally they succumbed to armies of Persian king Cyrus around 540 BC. However shortly thereafter Priene rebelled against its masters on several separate occasions. The largest was undertaken in 499- 494 BC. It was finally conquered by Alexander the Great during his conquest of the Persian Empire. Great Greek/ Macedonian general ordered construction of the new temple in 334 BC that was dedicated to Athena Polias.

In 129 BC Priene became part of the Roman Republic and part of the province of Asia Minor. During war with King of Pontus, Mithridates, his armies managed to capture the city steal everything they could carry away with them. After establishment of the Empire the city started to venerating the cult of the living god Emperor Octavian Augustus. It was performed in the Sacred Stoa as well as Temple of Athena. After Christianity became the dominant and official religion of the country Priene became seat of the bishop as a sign of its size and importance. Two of them even travelled to the Byzantine Councils to discuss matters of the church life and theology. This includes bishop Theosebios who was present at the Council of Ephesus in 431 and Paul who travelled to the capital of the Byzantine Empire Constantinople in 692 for another council. Priene went into decline in the early Medieval times. Receding sea made its existence harder and more expensive. By the time Turkish Ottomans captured Priene in the 13th century it was a mere ghost of itself. Soon Priene was abandoned and re- discovered only in the 19th century.


Theatre or Amphitheatre (Priene Archaeological Site)

Theatre or Amphitheatre held a special place in Ancient Greek Society. It was site where plays were performed for the citizens. Additionally it could hold enough spectators who could witness religious rituals that were held here on important and special occasions. Priene residence could also father for discussion of philosophical questions, political disputes and other subjects. Basically it was a form of social media minus the anonymity.

The Bouleuterion (Priene Archaeological Site)

The Bouleuterion is a Priene site of official gathering of Boulea or city Council that discussed important matters of the states as well as made decisions about life of Priene and its residents.

Temple of Athena Polias (Priene Archaeological Site)

Temple of Athena Polias was constructed in Priene in 334 BC on the orders of Alexander the Great.