The origins and earliest history of Miletos are still a subject of controversy. The name "Milawanda" that occurs in Hittite texts may well refer to Miletus. The excavations undertaken so far have reached as far as the Bronze Age. The first excavations were conducted by the German archaeologist Theodor Wiegand but these were several times interrupted by wars and various other events. Excavations were resumed by Gerhard Kleiner and continued by Werner MüllerWiener.
Miletos is one of the oldest cities of Ionia, located north of Soke, about 60 km away from Kusadasi. The city was on the point where the Buyuk Menderes ("Meander") flew into the Aegean Sea. Because of the alluviums, Miletos has been remote several times from sea, which explains that one can see today different harbors.
Scientists and Philosophers in Miletos
Miletos was also the city of many scientists and philosophers such as Thales, Anaximander, Hekataios (principle source to Herodotos) and closer to us, Isidorus, the architect of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Miletos had its alphabet recognized by the Greek world as the official Greek alphabet, basis of the current Latin alphabet.
In the Xth BC, Miletos has been invaded by Ionians and the city reached its apogee in the VIIth and VIth centuries and developed in one of the most significant cities of Ionia. In 494 BC, the Tyran (prince - governor) of Miletos, Aristagoras, started the "Ionia Rebellion" against the Persians where they collected some success at first but at the end lost the war. The Persians demolished the city and sent its habitants to Mesopotamia. In 344 BC, Alexander the Great invaded the city and had its trade redeveloped.
In 200 BC, Miletos became the dominion of the Myceneans, fact that is shown by the style of the ceramics in the houses and the city walls. During the Roman Empire, it became an independent city and later a bishopric at early Christian times. During the Byzantine period Miletos was called "Ania". As of that time, due to geographic and climatic changes, the city completely lost of its importance and was to be abandoned.
The most important monuments to be seen at Miletos are: the Bath of Faustina, the Delphinion (small temple dedicated to Apollo Delphinion, protector of ships and harbors) and the amphitheater.
After the death of Alexander the Great, one of his generals who is called Lysimachus chose Pergamum as the depository for his wealth. He placed nine thousand talents of gold in Pergamum under the guardianship of Philetaerus who was his lieutenant. After the death of Lysimachus, Philetaerus took advantage of this wealth and founded the independent dynasty of Attalid Kings which later became the centre of Hellenistic civilization. With the success of the two kings Attalus I and Eumenes II, Pergamum reached the highest point of its power. However during those time Rome and the Hellenistic leaders united. After that Pergamum became a very powerful kingdom by Attalus I including Mysia, Lydia, Caria, Pamphylia and Phrygia. He not only extended the borders but also decorated the capital city with architectural splendors. Eumenes II improved the city culturally. King Attalus III bequeathed the territory to the Romans who made the city rich in art and culture poor in politics and economy. The city went through the Arab, Byzantine and finally the Turkish period in the 14C. In Hellenistic period the ancientity made an intellectual progress with the famous sculpture school and public buildings and monuments. Also Pergamum played an important role during the reign of the Romans.
The foundation of acropolis in Pergamum depended on social and cultural activities which we can consider it to be the daily life. Because of this, buildings in Pergamum were designed to be used in daily life. More than religion socialization was important as a proof even the temples were one of the meeting places of people where they can join in social affairs just like other large buildings which were designed for this purpose. Pergamum had the fame to be the first city who showed reaction to the functional urbanism of Hippodamus as they preferred ornamental urbanism. Acropolis buildings were built and designed with the aim of impressing the ones viewing the city from the valley. All buildings except the Trajan Temple were built in the reign of the Hellenistic emperors which are mostly made of andesite and rarely marble.
Heroon in Pergamum was the shrine in which the kings especially Attalus I and Eumenes II were worshipped. Eumenes II built the Sanctuary of Athena, dedicated to victory-bringing, in Pergamum which was entered through a propylon. The entrance of the Sanctuary is surrounded by three stoas of the Doric order which opens to a courtyard. Athena Temple is located at the corner near the theatre in Doric order as well which was built earlier.
Second Biggest Library in Pergamum
Another building constructed by Eumenes II is the Library of Pergamum. It was the second of the three famous ancient libraries which contained two hundred thousand volumes and which were given to Cleopatra a century later as a wedding present by Mark Antony to be added to the ones in the library of Alexandria. The library is located north of the Athena Sanctuary. The Library of Pergamum was rich in sources but when the Egyptians prohibited the export of papyrus, Pergamum King ordered a new material to be found which can take the place of papyrus. What they found was called parchment which was a material made of sheep or goat skin. It was polished first with pumice stone and then slit into sheets. Because of this, the word parchment is used as a synonym of the name Pergamum.
The first establishments in Priene go back till 2000 BC. According to ancient documents, these first settlers were the Banians who mixed with the Ionians. In the Archaic period, the city's location may have been nearer to Miletos on the delta of the Buyuk Menderes (Meander). Later the city moved in the direction of the Mykale Mountains' slope.
The name "Priene" is thought to have a pre-Greek origin when the Cretan islands, ''Praisos and Prianson" had relations with Priene. Before becoming one of the 12 members of the Ionian Confederation and participating to the "Ionian Rebellion", Priene had first been a Lydian dominion for several centuries.
As the city had been demolished, its restoration has been planned by the famous city planner and architect, Hippodamos, who used for the first time the "Grating System": all the constructions were turned to the south in order to benefit a maximum of the day light. The roads were crossing perpendicularly to give the best ventilation system to the city.
Approx. 283 BC, a border quarrel arose between Priene and the Greek island Samos. It was only solved one century later when both parties accepted to become Roman vassals. Since then, Priene was under control of the Bergamian King, Attalos II, who was to return the city to the Romans after his death.
Due to endless wars and the alluviums that were invading the city, Priene was worn out and abandoned completely in the XIIIth century AD.
It is believed that the name of Priene is not Greek but is related to pre - Greek names of Cretan origin, such as Praisos and Priansos. In recent years, the theory gains weight that Priene was one of the cities of the Kingdom of Ahhiyava, which is believed to have been founded in the Miletus region, and that its name also derives from that origin. Therefore, our knowledge of the initial foundation of the city, whose existence goes back to the 2nd millennium BC, rests on hypotheses. The fact that the location of the pre - 4th century BC Priene has not yet been able to be determined up to the present day, plays an important role in this.
Hellenistic art and architecture in Priene
The city was arranged into four districts, firstly the political district which consisted of the Bouleterion and the Prytaneion, the cultural district containing the Theatre, the commercial where the Agora was located and finally the religious district which contained sanctuaries dedicated to Zeus and Demeter and most importantly the Temple of Athena.
According to the information gathered from ancient sources, Pausanias has written that Priene was founded by Aipythos, son of Neleus of Athens, and by Philotas of Thevai, and that the native population was Carian, whereas Strabo gave the information that the city was founded by Philatos and that it was then called Kadme.
Aphrodisias enjoys both an unbelievable historical richness and a beautiful natural scenery where all green tones from poplar to olive trees are present. The city was famous not only as a philosophy and medicine center but above all as a school of sculpture: the masterpieces realized there have been spread all over the Roman Empire and found back in the most popular temples such as in Didyma.
Aphrodisias was a Carian town named after the goddess of beauty and love, Aphrodite, whose origins date back from the Hittite and Phrygian cultures. Lots of Aphrodite's characteristics are similar to those of the Ephesus Artemis but cannot be compared with the Greek Aphrodite.
Aphrodisias knew her golden years during the Roman period as it was located alongside a main trade road. Even after the upcoming of Christians, Aphrodisias remained an important pagan center. Under the Byzantines, who renamed it "Stavropolis" (Town of the Cross), Aphrodisias became the residence of the bishop of Caria. When Aphrodisias had been conquered by the Turks, it received its current name "Geyre", most probably a deformation of "Caria".
RUINS OF APHRODISIAS
Today Aphrodisias is not only visited for its beautiful site but also for its opulent sculpture museum. During the 35 years continuous excavations, the temple of Aphrodite, the amphitheater, the thermal baths with their inlaid marble floors, the agora and the stadium, one of the best preserved and biggest in the world, have been brought to daylight.
Aphrodisias was changed to Stayropolis then to Caria which became Geyre years after. The ruins which are worth seein in Aphrodisias are listed below:
- The Tetrapylon which is a monumental gateway built in the 2nd century AD during the time of Hadrian,
- The Stadium which could hold 30,000 people,
- The Temple of Aphrodite which was originally designed as an Ionic temple but then changed into a church during the Byzantines,
- The Bishop's Residence which is said to have been the residence of the bishops during the Byzantines,
- The Odeon which had the seating capacity of 1700,
- The Baths of Hadrian which were built in the 2nd century during the reign of Hadrian,
- The building of the Portico of Tiberius which might have been a gymnasium with a training area,
- The Theatre which has the seating capacity of 8000,
- The Tetrastoon which used to be a meeting place surrounded by small shops,
- The Theatre Baths which have not been completely excavated and
- The Sebasteion which used to be a shrine where the king was worshipped.
In the museum of Aphrodisias one can see the busts, decorative and religious sculpture and ceramics.
Hierapolis was established by King Eumenes 2 and was given the name of "Hiera" in the honour of the wife of Telephos, the legendary establisher of the ancient Pergamum.
Hierapolis was visited frequently by the people from the nearest cities and Laodicea -the ancient site established before Hierapolis, for using the thermal springs known for its curing properties to various illnesses. From the 3 BC, as the fame of Hierapolis increased continually, migrations started from around and Hierapolis became an attractive and a favorable settlement, a rival city to Laodicea.
With the division of the Roman Empire into two in 395 AD, the city was ruled by the Byzantine. Hierapolis became the capital of Phyrigia during the reign of Constantine.The acceptance of Christianity created a new stage for the social and religious structure of Hierapolis’ becoming a patriarchal center. Also, in 80 AD, St. Philip -one of the 12 Apostles, was thought to have been killed in Hierapolis. The city lost its prior importance from the early of the 6th century, continuing to the 11th century. The dreadful earthquake in 1354 meant the city was emptied, totally and has not settled properly since that date, even in Turkish-Ottoman periods. The city was covered by the uncontrolled waters and travertine. Today the thermal waters of Hierapolis reached to its former fame and became an interesting touristical center for foreigners. Therefore, tourism was one of the main incomes of Hierapolis, during that era. Textile was also developed gradually and became the principal source of the Hierapolis's prosperity.
Located on the top of the "Bulbul" mountain 9 km ahead of Ephesus, the shrine of Virgin Mary enjoys a marvelous atmosphere hidden in the green. It is the place where Mary may have spent her last days. Indeed, she may have come in the area together with Saint John, who spent several years in the area to spread Christianity. Mary preferred this remote place rather than living in crowded place.
The house of Mary is a typical Roman architectural example, entirely made of stones. In the 4th century AD, a church, combining Mary's house and grave, has been built. The original two-stored house, which consisted of an anteroom (where today candles are proposed), bedroom and praying room (Christian church area) and a room with fireplace (chapel for Muslims). A front kitchen fell into ruins and has been restored in 1940's. Today, only the central part and a room on the right of the altar are open to visitors. From there one can understand that this building looks more like a church than a house.
Water of Mary
Another interesting place is the "Water of Mary", a source to be found at the exit of the church area and where a rather salt water, with curative properties, can be drunk by all.Paul VI was the first pope to visit Mary' House in the 1960's. Later, in the 1980's, during his visit, Pope John-Paul II declared the Shrine of Virgin Mary has a pilgrimage place for Christians. It is also visited by Muslims who recognize Mary as the mother of one of their prophets. Every year, on August 15th a ceremony is organized to commemorate Mary's Assumption
THE BASILICA OF ST. JOHN
It is believed that the evangelist St. John had spent his last years in the region around Ephesus and buried in the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill. Three hundred years after the death of Saint Paul, a small chapel was constructed over the grave in the 4th century. The church was changed into a marvelous basilica during the region of Emperor Justinian (527 -565 AD).
The monumental Basilica of St. John was in the shape of a cross and was covered with six domes. Its construction, being of stone and brick, is an extremely rare find amongst the architecture of its time. Raised by two steps and covered with marble, the tomb of St John was under the central dome, that was once carried by the four columns at the corners. The columns in the courtyard reveals the monograms of Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. Constructed in the 5th century AD, the baptistery is north of the nave, with its key hole shape. Rampart walls around the church were constructed for protection from the Arabian attracts in the 7th - 8th centuries AD. The impressive 10th century AD frescoes representing St John, Jesus and a Saint, ornament the chapel. With the invasion of Turks, the chapel was used as a mosque in the 14th century; unfortunately Basilica of Saint John became unusable due to the serious earthquake in the same century.
The Excavation of The Basilica of St. John
The excavations around the Basilica of Saint John has been continuing under the supervision of Ekrem Akurgal since 1973, with the financial supports of George B. Quatman.
This church was built over the tomb of St. John. The presently-visible church is cruciform and roofed with six massive domes, and was donated by the Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora.
Cappadocia has an interesting and remarkable topography and a dream-like landscape, complete with beautiful villages and houses carved from soft volcanic tuff, worth-visiting underground cities and frescoed churches.
There are three cities surrounding Cappadocia which are Nevsehir, Urgup and Avanos. Three million years ago the region was erupted of the Mountain Erciyes and Mountain Hasan. In the middle of these three cities the world famous town Goreme with its rock churches is located. ...
With the natural effects of the river Kizilirmak and the wind shaped the soft volcanic rocks and formed the Fairy Chimneys. It took millions of years to form a layer of tuff of the ash from the volcanoes. The very hot and very cold water as well as rain and the wind formed the rocks.
OPEN AIR MUSEUMS AND UNDERGROUND CITIES
During the beginning of the Christianity many cave churches and monasteries were made here. The Goreme Open Air Museum, Ihlara Valley, Kaymakli and Derinkuyu underground cities, Fairy Chimneys, Avonos, Zelve and Urgup are worth seeing in the region.
The Bible's New Testament speaks of Cappadocia but in fact this part of Central Anatolia has been important since Hittite times, long before the time of Jesus. Bounded by the towns of Hacibektas, Aksaray, Nigde and Kayseri, it was known as Cappadocia in ancient times, and is still called Kapadokya informally today.
It's Turkey's most visually striking region, especially the "moonscape" area around the towns of Ürgüp, Göreme, Uçhisar, Avanos and Mustafapasa, where erosion has formed caves, clefts, "fairy chimneys" and sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rock. The center of interest is the Göreme Valley, filled with rock-hewn churches decorated with medieval frescoes.
Although the volcanic landscape can appear inhospitable, the mineral-rich soil is excellent for growing vegetables and fruits, making Cappadocia a rich agricultural region. It has always been one of Anatolia's prime grape-growing areas, and still boasts many productive vineyards and wineries.
The fascinating landscape is perfect for hikes in such places as the Ihlara Valley and Rose Valley; for hot-air balloon flights at dawn; and for visits to the surprising underground cities at Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, and the Byzantine Iconoclastic rock-hewn monastery at Eski Gümüsler near Nigde. Cappadocia was an important district of the Hittite Empire, then an independent kingdom, and was later mentioned in the Bible as a large and important Roman province.