Aphrodisias is one of the finest archaeological sites in Türkiye. The name of the city is derived from the goddess of love, Aphrodite…
Located in southwest Türkiye, the relatively isolated Aphrodisias lies some two and a half hours drive inland from Kuşadası.
The site of Aphrodisias was a shrine as early as 5800 BC, when `neolithic farmers came here to worship the Mother Goddess of fertility and crops. At some point, the site was dedicated to Aphrodite, goddess of love, and was given the name Aphrodisias during the 2nd century BC.
For centuries it remained little more than a shrine, but when the Romans defeated the Pontic ruler Mithridates in 74 BC, Aphrodisias was rewarded for its loyalty and prospered as a cultural and artistic hub known for its exquisite marble sculptures, renowned throughout the Hellenistic and Roman empires for its school of sculpture and art.
Comparatively recent excavation work means that most of it’s treasures are still intact, and the on-site museum displays many examples of the monumental statuary produced by the school.
The ancient ruins of Aphrodisias were added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2017.
The Temple of Aphrodite
The temple of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love, dates from the 3rd century BCE and the city was built one century later.
During the Byzantine era, the temple bacame a Christian basilica.
All that remains of the ancient temple are fourteen of the over forty Ionic columns that once surrounded it and the foundations of the cellar section.
The stadium is one of the best preserved structures of its kind from the classical era.
Completed in 27 BC, structural changes were made in AD 200 to make it suitable for gladiatorial spectacles.
The wealth of Aphrodisias came from the marble quarries and the art produced by its sculptors.
The city streets are arranged around several large civic structures, which include temples, a theatre, an agora (a public open space used for assemblies and markets) and two bath complexes.
Click here to read Aphrodisias: The Lost City of Sculptures on the Turkish Travel Blog
How far away is it?
Depending upon which route you take, Aphrodisias is approximately three to four hours drive from Fethiye. You will need a further three to four hours to spend at the site. You don’t want to miss anything!
It’s well worth a visit if you haven’t been yet.
This article was first published on 13 July 2017 and updated on 12 December 2023. Photographs by Norman Clark.