Side - Ruins


The great ruins are among the most notable in Asia Minor. They cover a large promontory where a wall and a moat separate it from the mainland. During medieval times, the wall and moat were repaired and the promontory houses a wealth of structures.

There are colossal ruins of a theatre complex, the largest of Pamphylia, built much like a Roman amphitheatre that relies on arches to support the sheer verticals. The Roman style was adopted because Side lacked a convenient hillside that could be hollowed out in the usual Greek fashion more typical of Asia Minor. The theatre is less preserved than the theatre at Aspendos, but it is almost as large, seating 15,000 - 20,000 people. With time and the shifting of the earth, the scena wall has collapsed over the stage and the proscenium is in a cataract of loose blocks. It was converted into an open-air sanctuary with two chapels during Byzantine times (5th-6th c.)

The well-preserved city walls provide an entrance to the site through the Hellenistic main gate (Megale Pyle) of the ancient city, although this gate from the 2nd century BC is badly damaged. Next comes the colonnaded street, whose marble columns are no longer extant; all that remains are a few broken stubs near the old Roman baths. The street leads to the a public bath, restored as a museum displaying statues and sarcophagi from the Roman period. Next is the square agora with the remains of the round Tyche and Fortuna temple (2nd c. BC), a periptery with twelve columns, in the middle. In later times it was used as a trading centre where pirates sold slaves. The remains of the theatre, which was used for gladiator fights and later as a church, and the monumental gate date back to the 2nd century. The early Roman Temple of Dionysus is near the theatre. The fountain gracing the entrance is restored. At the left side are the remains of a Byzantine Basilica. A public bath has also been restored.

The remaining ruins of Side include three temples, an aqueduct, and a nymphaeum. Side's nymphaeum – a grotto with a natural water supply dedicated to the nymphs – was an artificial grotto or fountain building of elaborate design.

There is also a virtually unknown, but expansive site, up in the Taurus foothills, several miles inland, known locally as Seleucia. Virtually unknown to the outside world and not represented on the internet at all, it is the Roman garrison, built by Mark Anthony, to support the city of Side. It covers at least a couple of square miles and is almost completely unexcavated, apart from two weeks in 1975, when the Turkish government funded two weeks of excavations. The site was, apparently, finally abandoned in the seventh century, when an earthquake caused the spring which fed the site with water to dry up completely. Many of the buildings are in remarkably good shape, particularly since, due to the lack of available stone, a significant quantity of the sites stonework contains egg and gravel based concrete blocks.

Turkish archaeologists have been excavating Side since 1947 and intermittently continue to do so.

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