Aphrodisias is an archaeological site dedicated to the Greek goddess Aphrodite. They’re not the most famous ruins in Turkey, but it’s the biggest. Turkey has many interesting archaeological sites, and some visitors say Aphrodisias is the best.
Aphrodisias are known to have some of the most impressive Greco-Roman ruins in Turkey.
I have read Aphrodisias was more enjoyable than the famous Ephesus, mostly because it was less crowded. I have never been to Ephesus, so I cannot compare them. I think both cities would be interesting if you like History. Have a look at this blog post to make your own idea of Ephesus.
It took us half a day to explore the ancient Aphrodisias. There are day tours organised from Istanbul, but I recommend going down for at least a weekend to also visit the nearby Pamukkale (2.5h away).
Exploring the ruins of Aphrodisias
It was my first time exploring an ancient Greek city, and I enjoyed my visit to Aphrodisias more than I expected. It’s unbelievable to stand next to those monuments that suddenly bring to life the history lessons from school. I could not believe how some of them are well-preserved.
Although Aphrodisias is said to be less famous and touristy than Ephesus, it was a busy place when we visited it. However, we just needed to be patient to be able to have each monument just for us between the group tours. This was great to enjoy the experience fully and imagine life in the city.
The best is to wander there early in the morning before the tours arrive, or late in the afternoon, and visit the museum during the peak hour. As the city had a sculpture school, they had many statues that are now exposed in the museum.
Three monuments particularly caught my attention:
8,000 people could fit in it! It was built 27 years BC and restored in the 2nd century. I had an exceptional and unmatchable feeling standing on a stage where people were presenting plays over 2,000 years ago.
It is 270m long, and 30,000 people could fit in: it is one of the biggest ancient stadiums in the world and most probably the best preserved today. Romans built it in the 1st century.
I sat there imagining how the atmosphere could have been during the athleticism competitions or maybe some gladiator fights…
It is the Town Hall of this period. That’s where an assembly of citizens (the boule) would meet to discuss the city operations and the laws. It could also be used as a covered theatre or a public meeting area. Romans built it in the 2nd century.
Where is Aphrodisias?
Aphrodisias is in western Anatolia, in the South of Turkey. You can get there from Pamukkale, Denizli or Kusadasi*. Public transport can be tricky for those who aren’t used to travelling, hence joining a tour* could make your trip much easier.
Tours to Aphrodisias are often combined with the visit of Pamukkale.