Aspendos Theater and Ancient City

Aspendos Theater and Ancient City

Aspendos, situated 45 kilometers east of Antalya, is a popular tourist destination known for its remarkably well-preserved Roman period theater, which is considered to be the best-preserved Mediterranean theater in the world.

Located near the Köprüçay river, one of the largest waterways in the region, Aspendos offers visitors a unique experience combining both the theater and the river. The theater and other remnants of the city's buildings are situated on a plateau, with the theater leaning against it.

Aspendos Theater and Ancient City

Built by the Romans, the Aspendos Theater (Aspendos Tiyatrosu) is a magnificent example of Roman architecture, and is one of the few remaining buildings from that time period. The theater, which was dedicated to the gods and emperors of the era, was designed with intricate details and could hold up to 12,000 people.

The Romans were known for their expertise in designing performance spaces with auditoriums that provided an excellent experience for the audience. Today, the theater is still used for concerts and other performances.

The Aspendos Theater features an upper section of the auditorium covered with a gallery of columns, which can be reached by climbing through the galleries on either side of the stage. This impressive theater was built by the architect Zeno Theodorous' son during the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD). The entrances to either side of the stage building feature engravings indicating that the theater was offered to the gods and the emperor's household.

Apart from the theater, visitors can also explore the aqueducts of Aspendos, which are some of the best-preserved examples of ancient waterways. Aspendos was an active city during the Roman and Byzantine periods and continued to exist during the Seljuk and Ottoman times. Seljuk repairs are visible in the theater, especially on the relief in front of the monumental door extension and crude plaster coating dark red zigzag patterned plaster.

The stage building of the theater is believed to have been organized as a caravanserai where Seljuk sultans stayed, and it owes its survival to Seljuk restoration and protection, as well as the restoration and reuse instructions given by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk during his visit in 1930.

In 2015, the Theatre and Aqueducts of the Ancient City of Aspendos was included on the UNESCO Tentative List, recognizing it as one of the outstanding universal values of Turkey.