Sagalassos Ancient City

Sagalassos Ancient City

Sagalassos, located in the Burdur province of southwest Turkey, is widely regarded as one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the country. Situated over 100 kilometers north of the coastal city of Antalya, the city was once the most important urban center of ancient Pisidia, an area encompassing the Taurus Mountains to the south, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Anatolian plateau to the north.

Sagalassos is situated on south-facing slopes, ranging between 1,450 and 1,600 meters above sea level. As the city grew, it gradually incorporated the surrounding valleys into its municipality. The city has a rich history, having been conquered by Alexander the Great in 333 BC during his campaign to Persia. Sagalassos prospered after it joined the Roman Empire in 25 BC, becoming an important hub for trade and commerce. The city was linked to the Anatolian road network and was connected to the coastal cities of Lycia, including those of Ionia.

Sagalassos Ancient City

In ancient times, Sagalassos was known for exporting pottery and agricultural products. Following Alexander's death, the region was governed by Antigonus Monophthalmus, Lysimachus of Thrace, or the Seleucids of Syria. Despite its long history and many challenges, Sagalassos remains a remarkable example of ancient urban planning and architecture.

The architecture of Sagalassos bears the influence of Hellenization and Roman rule, which lasted for centuries. Construction in the city ceased from 235 CE until the 4th century CE, but a series of administrative developments led to changes in customs and the resumption of building in 368 CE. During this period, the locals had less involvement in the city's management, and religious shifts caused changes in the architectural style of the later years.

Despite Sagalassos's resilience, three major events in the sixth and seventh centuries contributed to its gradual decline. Each century began with an earthquake, and in 541-542 CE, a plague epidemic ravaged the city. Despite these devastating events, the residents remained in Sagalassos, subsisting mainly on agriculture. However, by the 13th century, the city's inhabitants had vanished. A neighboring town, Ağlasun, emerged in the area, and just as the people who had abandoned Alexander's Hill before them, Seljuk Turks arrived and conquered the remaining settlement by 1200 CE.

Sagalassos, located in Ağlasun, has experienced numerous periods of prosperity and decline throughout its history. In the 13th century, a caravanserai and hamam were built near the town square, which became a bustling commercial hub in the 16th century, hosting a market of regional significance.

Since 1990, archaeologists from the University of Leuven in Belgium have been excavating the 450-hectare site of the ancient city. The excavations have yielded remarkable discoveries, including a massive Roman bath complex, a library, an urban mansion with over 80 rooms, and a theater with a seating capacity of up to 9,000 people.

One of the most remarkable finds in Sagalassos is the Fountain of Antonine. Constructed between 161-180 AD during the prosperous reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the fountain has been continuously flowing with water since its excavation from 1993-1995. Restoration work on the fountain began in 1998 and was completed in 2000.