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ASPENDOS

Turkey's best-preserved Roman theatre

aspthea1Festival: Aspendos Opera & Ballet Festival (June/July)

Aspendos, near the village of Belkış, is best known for the enormous Roman theatre which dates back to the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180) and can seat 20,000 spectators.

Although it's often touted as the best-preserved Roman theatre in the world, it has in fact been restored, first in the 13th century and then again in the 1930s when Atatürk was so impressed with it that he decided that it should be brought back to life again.

Today it serves as the main venue for the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival every June/July.aspthea2

Aspendos’ early history is a sorry tale of squabbles between the Persians, the Athenians, the Spartans, the Macedonians and the Seleucids for possession of it. Only under the Roman Empire did it really start to prosper on the proceeds of selling salt from a nearby lake. It was then that the theatre was built, along with many of the overgrown buildings on the hilltop acropolis.

In comparison with the theatre most of the other ruins at Aspendos pale into insignificance. The one exception is a lengthy stretch of aqueduct that still survives from the second century and which would have brought water down from the Taurus Mountains to the city.

Transport info

Look for buses heading along the coast road between Antalya (47km) and Alanya and ask to be dropped off at Serik, the Aspendos turn-off, four km from the ruins.

Alternatively you can sign up for a tour from Antalya (from Side Aspendos comes as a package deal with trips to Antalya).

Read more: http://en.zaman.com.tr/en/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=6504

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