Ancient towns in Mediterranean sea

In this review, you can read about the ancient towns of the Greek civilization, which were located on the territory of Asia Minor, Greece, as well as nearby islands. The era of Greek colonization covers the period from the 8th to the 6th century BC. 

The Greeks settled on the shores of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. That time Greece was a community of polis, small independent towns. They were often at war with each other, but they belonged to a single Greek civilization. It is believed that the Greeks founded several hundred colonies, the total population of which reached 2 million people.

Ancient towns in the Eastern Mediterranean:

•    Salamis (Cyprus)
•    Kato Paphos (Cyprus)
•    Mira and Kekova (Turkey)
•    Side (Turkey)
•    Termessos (Turkey)
•    Pamukkale (Turkey)
•    Aspendos (Turkey)
•    Fazelis (Turkey)
•    Perge (Turkey)

Click on the hyperlinks to read in detail about each city and see a large number of photos

Salamis (Cyprus)

The ancient town of Salamis is located 6 kilometers north of Famagusta. In its heyday, it was the largest city in Cyprus. The Marble forum, Roman baths and Roman theater have been preserved here to this day. Under the Ptolemies, who captured Cyprus after the death of Alexander the Great, Salamis became the main city in Cyprus. 

During Roman rule, it ceded this rank to Paphos, which is located in the West of Cyprus. In 332 and 342, two powerful earthquakes occurred in Cyprus. They completely destroyed Salamis and Paphos, but the Roman Emperor Constantine restored Salamis, naming it Constantia. Thus, under Constantine, Salamis once again became the main city of Cyprus.

When the Emperor Constantine restored Salamis after the earthquake, the stone columns were replaced with marble ones. The gymnasium of Salamis became known as the Marble Forum, which is one of the most famous monuments among all ancient towns. 

Kato Paphos (Cyprus)

According to the historian Strabo, the old town of Kato Paphos was founded in the 12th century BC by the Arcadian commander Agapenor after the end of the Trojan War. The ruins of Archaeological park Kato Paphos are impressive in their scale. They cover an area of about 20 hectares. 

The historical core of Kato Paphos is the archaeological site in the old port area. Alas, the ancient buildings of Kato Paphos have not survived to this day. They were destroyed by earthquakes of the 4th century. Everything that was built here in the early Middle Ages was destroyed by the earthquake of 1222. As a result, in Kato Paphos you can see only the foundations of ancient villas, as well as the ruins of medieval castles and churches.

At the entrance to the Archaeological Park, visitors first see the foundations of Ancient villas of Kato Paphos. Their main cultural value is the mosaic floors of the Roman era. They were found in 4 villas named after gods and heroes from the myths of Ancient Greece: The Villa of Dionysus, the Villa of Theseus, the House of Aion, and the House of Orpheus.

Mira and Kekova (Turkey)

Myra and Kekova (150 km south-west of Antalya) are one of the most popular tourist attractions at the resorts of the Anatolian coast. Myra is an ancient city where you can visit the Church of St. Nicholas, as well as a Lycian necropolis dating back to VI century B.C. and a Roman amphitheater. After a visit to Myra tourists are taken to the island of Kekova. On the way to Kekova they can see the flooded Lycian cities from the ship.

For about a thousand years before Christ the whole peninsula south of Antalya was occupied by Lycia. So, during a visit to Myra and Kekova you may also see the monuments of this ancient civilization. Xanthos (7 km from the sea) was the largest city of Lykia, and Myra, together with Andriake (an ancient city and the port of Myra), was the largest coastal city. 

A Lycian necropolis (VI century B.C.) and a Roman amphitheater (III century A.D.) are not far from the church on the side of the mountain range. The necropolis is hollowed in the rock and is very similar to a multi-storey building.

After a visit to Myra tourists go to the flooded cities on the island of Kekova. There you should see at least 3 places: the flooded city of Dolihiste (it occupies a narrow strip along the island), the bay of Tersane (there are many ruined Lycian houses under water and on the coast) and Simena, a castle and a necropolis.

Side (Turkey)

The ancient town of Side was founded by Greek settlers in VII century B.C. During the campaign of Alexander the Great the town surrendered to him without fight. Later it was included in the Seleucid Empire. Eventually, the town became one of the cultural and entertainment centers of the Asia Minor. In II century B.C. Side was a prospering town but this prosperity was due to the biggest slave market in the Mediterranean region. The beauty of local female slaves was known in all neighbouring states and attracted rich slave traders.

At the turn of the century Side was captured by Cilician pirates, but in 67 the Roman consul Pompey drove them of the town and the fame of being the center of entertainments was returned to it. It was just here that the Roman built the largest ancient amphitheatre on the territory of the modern Turkey. The population of Side reached 60 thousand people. The amphitheatre was the place of not only theatre performances but also of gladiator games.

Most of the antique sights are in the area of the amphitheater. The town was surrounded on all sides by fortress walls. You should get to the extreme point of the peninsula, where you will find the ruins of the temple of Neptune and the ancient port.

Termessos (Turkey)

The ancient town Termessos was founded by the ancient people of Solimami, and then became part of Lycia in the 5th century BC. Termessos was one of the few cities that Alexander the Great couldn`t capture. Natural and artificial defenses of the city made it almost impregnable and after an unsuccessful attempt to force a pass to the city Alexander decided to retreat.

In the period of the Roman Empire the city was at its heyday but was abandoned by the citizens by some reason, supposedly after an earthquake, which destroyed the aqueduct supplying water to the city. There remained many ruins dating back to that time: huge amphitheatre, various buildings, and Lycian burials in the upper and lower part of the city.

 The city is at the height of 1650 meter above sea level. In the upper part of the city you should see the amphitheatre. Apart from the amphitheatre, you should find the sarcophagus of Agathemeros. At a distance of two tens of meters from the parking lot you can see the Lower Necropolis. You must see it. The paths winds between the scattered sarcophagi and the slabs with the images of Alexander the Great or the Gorgon. 

Pamukkale (Turkey)

Pamukkale is a unique thermal spa resort you will find nowhere in the world. The waters rich in calcium bicarbonate form there cascades of terraced baths of dazzling white color. Beautiful calcite stalactites hang down below these baths. 
Pamukkale means «Cotton Castle» in Turkish.

In the environs of Pamukkale there are 17 thermal springs but «cotton» travertines are formed due to the water of just one spring, the temperature of which is 35 degrees. If you have time, you should have a dip in the Cleopatra`s Pool. It was built back in ancient times, but as a result of an earthquake, the columns fell in the pool, and since then they have been there.

In the 2nd century, the Romans built the «resort» town of Hierapolis over the springs, where people came to improve their health. The archaeological museum is among the picturesque ruins. Near it you can also see a large ancient theater.

Aspendos (Turkey)

Presumably, ancient Aspendos was founded in X century B.C., immediately after the end of the Trojan War. In 333 B.C. it was conquered by Alexander the Great. After the death of Alexander the Great Aspendos was a part of various kingdoms until in 190 A.D. it was included in the Roman Empire. The period of the highest prosperity of Aspendos was just under the Roman rule.

During the period of the Byzantine Empire the town began to decline, and XIV century, under the Turks, it ceased to exist. On the Big Hill you can see the ancient Agora, Basilica, Acropolis. The columns of the well-preserved Roman aqueduct are leading to it, but the Roman amphitheater located at the foot of the Big Hill is of the greatest interest. To this day it survived in a perfect condition. The amphitheater was built in II century under the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. 

On the way to the top of the Big Hill you first come to a small gate approached by a medieval street. From the gate the road leads to the monumental building of the Basilica. It was built in the Roman period and was intended for court sessions and trade. A large Agora was in front of the Basilica. The Acropolis was near it.

Phaselis (Turkey)

The ruins of the ancient Lycian town of Phaselis are located 10 kilometers to the south of Tekirova. At the time of Alexander the Great Phaselis was a big city and this great military leader stayed there during his campaigns against Persia.

Now Phaselis is a wonderful national park completely covered with century-old pines and cedars. The ruins of the Roman and Byzantine periods are well-preserved on the shore of the peninsula. It would be interesting to see the layout of an ancient city, amphitheatre, central square, bathhouses.

Perge (Turkey)

The ruins of the ancient city of Perge, located on the eastern edge of the city of Antalya. In the neighborhood of Antalya there are over a dozen sites with the ruins of ancient cities, but the site of ancient Perge is the biggest one. There survived the whole districts of this ancient city.

Beyond the walls of the ancient city you can see the well-preserved Amphitheatre and Stadium. They are close to each other. Also, outside the walls of the city you can see the famous Hellenic Gate of Perge.

To the right of the Gate Agora is located, but the most impressive place in Perge is the broad street paved with marble, stretching from the Hellenic Gate to the Acropolis. There was a canal in the middle of the street, and columns are on both sides of the street.