Nysa on the Maeander is a true gem of Caria, hidden in the deep valleys of the Aegean. An important Carian centre, the ancient city was located in the north of the region, 50 kilometres east of the Ionian city of Ephesus. Today, it is a well-preserved archaeological site.
Coordinates: 37° 54′ 6″ N, 28° 8′ 48″ E
The city rose to prominence under the Romans and was home for a while to the historian Strabo (63 BC – AD 25). Strabo described the city as three towns rolled into one. He mentioned that it was originally called Athymbra but by the 2nd century BC the settlement appears to have been renamed Nysa, possibly in honour of the wife of King Antiochus I Soter. Nysa was planned as a city composing of two separate sections, situated on both sides of a mountain cliff.
There are important ruins scattered on the mountain slope from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. The well-preserved theatre, rebuilt during the Roman Imperial period, is famous for its friezes depicting the life of Dionysus and the sacred marriage (theogamia) between Persephone (daughter of the goddess Demeter) and the god of the Underworld, Pluto. With its 57 rows of marble seats, it had a capacity of 12,000 people.
The library, dating from the 2nd century AD, is considered to be Turkey’s second-best preserved ancient library structure after the Celsus Library of Ephesus. The stadium of Nysa, which was partially damaged by floods, had a capacity of 30,000 people. The Hellenistic gerontikon (Council House of the Elders), adapted in the 2nd century AD as an odeon, offered room for up to 700 people.
Other significant structures include the Agora (market place), the Gymnasium and the Roman baths. The 100 m long Nysa Bridge was the second largest of its kind in antiquity.