Saturday, May 28, 2011

Side - Just seeing ruins like these, now overgrown with weeds and wildflowers, makes you envision how beautiful this ancient city used to be.
Hundreds of beautiful red poppies were blooming everywhere when we visited in early May.
It’s a shame that cities like Side (and others near Antalya) in Turkey fell prey to pirates, other enemies, were destroyed by earthquakes and fires, ransacked over hundreds of years and eventually abandoned.

According to the book on Side, written by Turkish archaeologist Orhan Atvur,  I purchased on-site, the city first was colonized in 7th century B.C. Later in 334 B.C., the city surrendered to Alexander the Great and became one of his centers to mint coins. Because of its ideal geographical location, the city was an important harbor and commercial center.
One of the most impressive ruins here (often pictured in ads promoting Turkish tourism) is the Temple of Apollo, known as the god of light, knowledge and the arts. The temple is situated on part of the peninsula that juts out into the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
Apollo and Athena were the major deities of the city. Apollo was worshiped as the founder god of the city “Theoktistos” and “Pythian Games” were organized in his name. The Temple of Apollo lies to the east of the ruins of the Athena Temple was reconstructed in the 2nd century AD. The temple was designed in the Corinthian order and has 6 x 11 columns with spectacular frieze blocks decorated with Medusa heads.

When you first approach Side from land, you are greeted with ruins of the ancient walls. At one point, Atvur states that the city was surrounded by walls both on land and the sea.
 As you walk down the main “avenue,” you see remains of the agora, the shopping area, which once was lined with rows and rows of shops. Ancient marble columns simply are just scattered here and there. I wish it were possible to put all the pieces back together again and restore the area to its former glory.
Looking out from the ruins of the hospital. 
More beautiful red poppies.
After you pass the theatre, turn left so you can avoid the touristic craziness of Liman Caddesi and approach the port area from the beach.
A view of the theatre, which was built in the middle of the city
When you need a break, there are plenty of restaurants available. The menus vary, and although not cheap, the prices were reasonable for a highly touristic area. We enjoyed a şiş kebap lunch and Efes beers while we relaxed in the sun and looked out into the sea.
Turkish women strolling in the streets of Side.
Young men were jumping into the cool sea waters. We both thought the water
was a bit chilly for swimming.
If you are visiting Antalya, be sure to include Side on your list of places to see while you are there.

Note: Park in the farther away otopark, with the buses, where there is free parking.

If you have time, you also can explore:
Museum of Side, on-site, 10 TL admission
Theatre access, 10 TL admission

Tagged: ,