Olba, later Diocaesarea, is an ancient Seleucid city in Rough Cilicia on Turkey’s rugged Eastern Mediterranean coastline. In the Hellenistic period, the city was the centre of worship of Zeus Olbios, whose sanctuary was located about 4 km to the west. Erected during the reign of the Seleucids, the temple, Corinthian in style, is the oldest peripteral temple (6×12 columns) in Asia Minor. Other monuments from the Hellenistic period include a 22m-high tower and a mausoleum. The Roman city of Diocaesarea later developed in the 1st century AD around the temple devoted to Zeus Olbios. Its ruins today lie partly within the grounds of the village of Uzuncaburç (Turkish for high tower and referring to the Hellenistic tower) and its immediate surroundings.

The most important Roman buildings on the site date from the 1st to the 3rd century AD and include a theatre, a nymphaeum, an aqueduct, and many tombs dug in the rock. The city is entered through a monumental gate, of which five columns have survived. Then a colonnaded street runs alongside the temple of Zeus Olbios and leads to the temple of Tyche. To the northwest, a three-arched Roman gate leads out of town.

Coordinates: 36°35’12.1″N 33°58’06.7″E


  • Diocaesarea
The monumental entrance gate to the city of Diocaesarea was erected at the end of the 1st century AD. It originally had five entrances.
The Temple of Zeus Olbios was erected during the reign of the Seleucids. The monument is peripteral and Corinthian in style.
The Hellenistic Temple of Zeus Olbios.
The Temple of Zeus Olbios was converted into a basilica during the Byzantine era. The cella was removed, and an apse was added at the eastern end.
When the temple was converted into a church, the columns were shaved at the sides and walls were built between them.
An architectural block with a boar and a lion decorated the Temple of Zeus Olbios.
Architectural block from the Temple of Zeus Olbios.
The two-storied Hellenistic mausoleum with a pyramidal roof.

View of Diocaesarea from the Hellenistic mausoleum. The temple of Zeus Olbios is on the left, in the middle is the Roman theatre and on the right stands the 22m-high Hellenistic tower.
A limestone sarcophagus beautifully decorated with vine tendrils and flowers suspended from two ox heads in the middle and two-horned ram heads on each side; over the garlands are three sculpted heads of Medusa.
The Corinthian colonnade of the Temple of Tyche was built in the 1st century AD by Oppius and his wife, Kyria.
The cella (inner cult room) of the Temple of Tyche.
The inscription on the architrave states: “Oppius, the son of Obrimus, and Kyria, the daughter of Leonidus and the wife of Oppius, gave the Tychaeum to the city.”
A sarcophagus lid.
The Roman Nymphaeum was built in the 2nd or 3rd century AD. The structure, 17m long and about 11m wide stood along the colonnaded street. The water was brought from the Lamus River by using channels and tunnels.
The northern city gate was built in the 2nd century AD and completely restored during the reigns of Arcadius and Honorius (5th century AD).
An abandoned house built among the ruins of the ancient city.
The Roman theatre was constructed during the joint reign of the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.
The theatre had a capacity of around 2000 spectators.
  • Olba
The acropolis hill of Olba with fortification towers.
The double-tier aqueduct of Olba, commissioned by Septimius Severus in AD 199, was built across the valley of Olba and linked the two hillsides. It is about 150 m long and 25 m high.
The aqueduct underwent repairs during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justin II in AD 566.
The nymphaeum standing at the western foot of the Acropolis. It was fed by the Lamus River, whose water was brought through tunnels, channels and the aqueduct.
The Roman theatre.
The stage building of the Roman theatre.

Source: Silifke (Seleucia on Calycadnus ) and Environs: Lost Cities of a Distant Past in Cilicia by Celal Taşkıran (Sim Matbaasi, 1993)


2 thoughts on “Olba-Diocaesarea

  1. As usual your post has added to my vocabulary. nymphaeum. I will read further about this. So interesting! Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.