The Phrygians are one of those Anatolian peoples nobody knows much about.
Actually, we only think we know nothing. We’ve all heard about King Midas (he of the Golden Touch).
The details on the Golden Touch business are a bit vague (let’s say legendary), but there’s nothing vague about Midas Şehri (MEE-dahss shehh-ree), the “City of [King] Midas, 72 km (45 miles) north of Afyon, 32 km (20 miles) south of Seyitgazi, and 107 km (66 miles) south of Eskişehir in the village of Yazılıkaya (“Inscribed Rock”)(map).
The Temple to Mita (Kybele or Cybele) is a striking 17-meter-high (56-foot-high) rock wall carved in the 6th century BC with a niche for a statue at the base. It was dedicated to the perdurable Anatolian fertility goddess whose name and attributes change over the centuries, but not her function as the female focus. Atop the rock from which the temple is carved are ruins of altars and city walls.
There’s a much later rock-cut monastery next to the temple, and a small museum nearby.
A few minutes’ stroll to the west is Küçük Yazılıkaya, or Little Inscribed Stone, a smaller, unfinished 6th-century BC temple.
The best way to visit Midas Sehri is by car (private, rental or taxi) so you can tour the other Phrygian ruins in the region as well.
There’s another temple near Midas Şehri at Arezastis and, in the village of Kümbet (Tomb), a 12th-century Seljuk Turkish mausoleum (kümbet) near some older possibly Phrygian ruins.
Göynüş Vadisi has a number of Phrygian rock-cut reliefs, as do Kapıkayalar and Arslankaya.
At Ayazinkoyü are cave dwellings similar (but not so elaborate or grand) as those in Cappadocia. All of these Phrygian sites are in the region north of Afyon.
Plan to spend at least half a day wandering around seeing the sights of Phrygia. Bring a picnic as there are no services in the villages. The unpaved labyrinth of village roads is not well marked, so you may need to ask directions if you’re driving yourself.
—by Tom Brosnahan