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This bespoke adventure explores the Ionian cities of Aphrodisias and Magnesia, taking you through the magnificent remains of the two legendary settlements.
Kusadasi or Izmir
A day in the ruins of Aphrodisias and Magnesia is nothing short of a scenic history lesson. As you explore the magnificent remains of what were stunning flourishing cities less than 2000 years ago, learn a little of Asia Minor’s history while enjoying the calm Anatolian atmosphere.
Luckily, many tourists don’t give as much attention to Aphrodisias and Magnesia as they do to Ephesus, so you don’t have to worry about crowds; your little trip into the ancient world will be a peaceful, learning, and fun experience, decorated by the beautiful country landscape.
Two of the most magical ancient cities together…
Your private guide will pick you up from your hotel or meet you at a pre-determined pick-up location.
The city of Aphrodisia sat in the historic Caria region in western Anatolia (modern village of Gyre 62 miles from the Agean sea). It was named after the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. However, the city’s exact origins remain unknown to date.
In the Roman and Hellenistic periods, white and blue-gray Carian marble was readily available in the rich quarries of the neighboring slopes. This made the city famous for producing some of the best marble sculptures, and its sculptors were quite popular in the Roman empire. There were even a couple of notable schools for sculpture ( and philosophy) established in the city.
Aphrodisias also flourished thanks to the surrounding well-watered and fertile lands agriculturally. At the center of the city was a magnificent temple of Aphrodite, and thus, the prosperous town remained a pagan stronghold as late as the 5th century CE. At its peak (under the reign of emperor Augustus), it was an autonomous city-state with tax-free privileges.
A 7th-century earthquake signaled Aphrodisias’ demise. It never really recovered and was renamed Straupolis (the Cross) and later Caria in the 8th century. The city then fell to the Seljuks four times, between 1080 and 1260, leaving behind a tiny Turkish settlement called Geyre.
Excavations in 1961 revealed much of the structures visitors explore in Aphrodisias. However, the highlight of the visit will be the stadium, one of the largest and best-preserved from the ancient world. Here, citizens enjoyed displays of athletic prowess from their local champions in wrestling contests, javelin, foot races, long jumping, and discus throwing.
There are also the impressive remains of the temple of Aphrodite, the baths of Hadrian, the theater, the odeon, the monumental gate Tetrapylon, and the agora- all worth seeing.
From there, proceed to the Aphrodisia Museum and enjoy stunning collections of artifacts unearthed during excavations of the city, including thousands of incredible structures from as early s 5000 BCE.
Also known as Magnesia ad Maendrum (Magnesia on the Meander), this ancient city sits near a small tributary of the Maeander River. It was founded by Thessalian Magnetes, with the help of a few settlers from Crete, 12 miles from Ephesus and 15 miles from Miletus.
The city lay within Ionia and grew relatively prosperous but was never accepted into the Ionian League because Aeolians occupied it. Between 726 BCE and 660 BCE, the Cimmerian inversion laid waste to Magnesia. However, it was rebuilt and gradually recovered under the Milesians (or Ephesians according to other sources) through the decades. Finally, around the 5th century BCE, the exiled Themistocles was given control of the city.
The city wanted to join the Athenian empire and thus, was transplanted to a new site around the foothills of Mt. Thorax. By 200 BCE, Magnesia was flourishing, and this prosperity carried on to the Roman period when it was added to the Pergamon kingdom.
In 87 BC, it resisted King Mithradeted Rebellion and was rewarded with political autonomy. From there, Magnesia is rarely mentioned in literary works and seems to have declined to oblivion.
The fallen city is a treasure cove for history lovers, presenting magnificent ruins of a temple dedicated to Artemis, an impressive theatre, an agora, and a Zeus Altar. There are also ruins dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods- a gymnasium, odeon, an impressive stadium (25,000 spectator capacity), a Byzantine wall, a bath complex, and a basilica. A 15th-century mosque stands as the only Ottoman architectural piece on the site.
End of tour and transfer to Denzil Airport or back to your hotel.
Not really, but to get the most out of the visit, we recommend that you do so.