Dressing up for a photo
with the "gladiator."
Aspendos boasts the best-preserved Roman theater
in Turkey, and one of the best
in the world.
Located on the Pamphylian plain 47
km (29 miles) east of Antalya and
37 km (23 miles) west of Side (map), Aspendos is
4 km north of the Mediterranean
shore on the banks of
Once called Belkis, Aspendos
was founded by the Hittites, but it
was Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180
AD) who ordered its great theater to
||Note people on
above the theater.
Still used for performances
today, the theater really
allows you to imagine what it was
attend a dramatic performance in Roman times.
The ruined city of Aspendos includes
a substantial aqueduct and
less impressive remains of an agora,
basilica and stadium,
and you can wander through the
fields to find them, though it's the
theater that you really want to see.
There are no hotels or restaurants right
by the theater, just snacks, but you
can stop for a tasty gözleme (Turkish
crepe) and ayran (yogurt
drink) at village stands on the road
to into the theater.
Aspendos is crowded with tour groups in
the middle of the day in high summer,
so try to avoid the crowds by coming
early or late in the day, or off-season.
If you do come in high summer, you
can enjoy the Aspendos Opera & Ballet
Festival in September with performances in the marvelous
theater. What a thrill to see a performance
East of the road from the highway
to the theater is a graceful, restored Seljuk
Turkish stone bridge across
the Köprüçay stream. It's worth taking
the short detour of only a few hundred
meters to visit it and admire this
beautiful 800-year-old engineering
Aspendos is also a starting-point
for the St
Paul Trail leading north
up onto the Anatolian
way of dramatic Köprülü Kanyon
National Park through
which the Köprüçay river churns
and rolls. A good day's excursion
is to go river
rafting on the Köprüçay,
or to drive all the way up the valley
to the ancient Roman town
of Selge (now
called Altınkaya). More...
—by Tom Brosnahan
Distances & Travel Times
group of students gets a lecture on
the history and architecture
of Aspendos Theater.
Below, the scaena, or
stage wall, of the theater.