Miletus is known
for its gigantic 25,000-seat Hellenistic
reconstructed by the Romans and perhaps
the most impressive theater structure
Located on the southern edge of the
Meander River flood plain, 22 km (14
miles) south of Priene (map), Miletus was
an important Ionian city for 1400 years,
from about 700 BC to 700 AD.
the central of the three ancient
you can visit on a day
trip from Selçuk (Ephesus)
or Kuşadası. More...
The city has a solid place in history.
Thales of Miletus (6th-5th
century BC), one of the Seven Sages
of Greece, has been called "the founder
of science," with especially great
contributions in the fields of geometry
and astronomy. It was in Miletus that St
with the elders of the church of Ephesus (the Ephesians) before his final journey
to Rome. Isidore
of Miletus was one
of the two men who changed the course
of architecture with the design of
Sophia in Istanbul.
Though a settlement was known to be
here in Hittite times,
it was the Ionian
Hippodamos who gave
Miletus its street
grid plan, a revolutionary
feature of urban planning that
was copied in nearby Priene,
and later by all new Roman cities.
Made rich by maritime commerce and
its colonies, Miletus prospered through
Byzantine and Seljuk times, but finally
died when its harbor filled completely
with alluvium from the Meander River.
Nowadays, with the Meander flood plain
covered in cotton
fields, it's difficult
to imagine ships docking right in front
of the theater where the parking lot
and restaurant now stand, but so it
Today you drive across the flood plain
from Priene on
a straight road bridging irrigation
canals and the much-dwindled Meander
River (Büyük Menderes
Nehri) to reach the ruins of Miletus.
If you park in the parking lot, as
a man will insist, you pay a few TL,
and to enter the theater you pay a
few more TL,
and to use the toilet you pay yet more TL.
My suggestion for how
to tour the theater: walk
to the left (north) side of the theater,
enter the huge portal (se the photo
above), and climb the stairs inside.
You'll see how the theater was constructed,
and how the huge crowds of up to
15,000 spectators moved about, you'll
be out of the blazing sun, and the
breeze down the stairwell will cool
you before you emerge, panting and
blinking, onto the theater's upper
A small ruined
fortress stands at
the top of the theater, flying the
Turkish flag. You can climb all the
way up to the flagpole, in midsummer
among magnificent 2-meter-high thistles.
The view from the
top is excellent, revealing the theater
itself, the flood plain, and the other
remains of ancient Miletus including
and Southern Agoras and
traces of the city walls, bouleuterion, Baths
of Faustina, stadium
and other structures, all now badly
A restored Turkish caravanserai south
of the theater has been furnished with
shops, but is usually not open. Beyond
it to the south, the interesting İlyas
Bey Mosque (1404)—the
domed building with the storks' nest
atop it—is currently closed for
Miletus has a small museum on
the road south to the village of Balat,
the town of Akköy and Didyma.
Continue south along this road 4.5
km (3 miles) to Akköy,
then 14 km (9 miles) more to Yenihisar and Didyma.
Farther south is Altınkum
—by Tom Brosnahan
theater at Miletus.
a stairway to the top.
Bottom, the domed
Bey Mosque and ruins.