Back

Amphitheatres in ancient towns

Many amphitheatres of the ancient towns of the Mediterranean have survived to this day. The first theaters appeared in Greece, in the 6th century BC, and then they were built in many towns of the eastern Mediterranean. They staged plays, Greek tragedies and comedies. With the spread of Roman civilization, the amphitheatres changed their shape. They began to be built in the form of ellipses, and the audience watched in them not performances, but gladiatorial fights.

Greek Amphitheatres in the Eastern Mediterranean:

  • Amphitheatre in the fortress of Simena
  • Amphitheatre in Aspendos 
  • Amphitheatre in Side
  • Amphitheater  in Pamukkale 
  • Amphitheatre in Termessos
  • Amphitheatre in Myra

 

Amphitheatre in the fortress of Simena

A fortress on the mountain is one of the main attractions of Kekova, as well as the Lycian necropolis at its foot. In V century B.C. the ancient Lycian city of Simena was on the site of today village. It was not as large as Dolihiste, which was on the opposite island (at that time it was a peninsula).

Simena fortress, which has survived to the present day, was built in Roman times, on the site of a Lycian fortress. At the top of the mountain is the ancient Lycian Amphitheater in the fortress of Simena. The theatre could accommodate only 150 spectators, but it is quite unique. The rows of seats are carved right in the mountainside. When in the theatre you can easily imagine spectators sitting on the seats back in V century B.C.

Amphitheatre in Aspendos 

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.

The amphitheater in ancient Aspendos for 17 thousand spectators was built in the 2nd century AD under the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. A large gallery was erected above the spectators` stand, thanks to which the visitors were in the shadow during performances. Under the Turks, this ancient theater served as a caravanserai. In 1980 it was restored, and until recently the «Fires of Anatolia» show was constantly held here. Now the theater is considered an architectural monument, and the show is now held in a new nearby amphitheater.

Amphitheatre in Side

The amphitheater of ancient Side is considered the main sight of the city. It is the largest remaining antique amphitheater in Turkey, and at the same time now it is in a very good condition. The width of the theater is 120 meters, and the width of the stage is 29 meters. 

The amphitheater of Side was built in II century A.D. and accommodated about 20 thousand spectators. Apart from the fact that this is the largest amphitheater, its design is unique in that most theaters of that time adjoined the hillsides, and the tiers with seats, actually, were hollowed out in the hillside. In Side the theater was built on a completely flat ground, but Roman architects erected such a monumental building with the help of arched structures.

Amphitheater  in Pamukkale

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. 

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. The Amphitheater in Pamukkale is one of the largest in Turkey. It was designed for 15 thousand spectators. It is located on the right side of the Byzantine Gate.

Amphitheatre in Termessos

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 upper part of the city, you should definitely see the Amphitheater of antic Termessos. It is located on a cliff in a very picturesque place. Despite the fact that it has not been restored, it is quite well preserved, and it is here that you realize how interesting it is to explore the ruins of an ancient city.

Amphitheatre in Myra

On the northern outskirts of Myra, at the foot of the low range of the Taurus Mountains, there remained a remarkable monument dating back to VI century B.C. – a Lycian necropolis, hollowed out in the steep side of the rock. A Roman amphitheater, which was built in III-IV century, is near the necropolis. It could accommodate more than 10 thousand spectators. As all other Roman amphitheaters, it was used both for theatrical performances and gladiatorial fights.

The amphitheater in antic Myra was built by the Romans, but it has the shape of a Greek theater. It has 29 rows at the bottom and another 6 rows above the upper gallery. The amphitheater was destroyed several times by earthquakes, and then was buried under a mudflow, but today it is completely restored.