Stratonicea (Caria)

Stratonicea was an inland city built on a plain near the sources of the river Marsyas. Today, the ruins of the ancient city are located in the abandoned village of Eskihisar, 28 km east of Milas. They lie among crumbling houses and deserted cottages which give travellers a feeling of mystery and enchantment. Stratonicea has been inhabited uninterruptedly for over 3,500 years and is considered one of the world’s largest marble cities. It is listed on Unesco’s tentative World Heritage Site list since 2015. Excavations are still ongoing around the site, exposing more and more of the forgotten city.

Coordinates: 37° 18′ 53″ N, 28° 3′ 57″ E

Stratonicea

Stratonicea was founded on the site of an old Carian town in the 3rd century BC by the Seleucid king Antiochos I. It was named in honour of his former stepmother and later wife Stratonice, a Syrian princess. Stratonicea was a thriving city during the period of the Seleucids, who, according to Strabo, adorned it with luxurious buildings. Later, the city was ceded to the Rhodians, and in 200 BC it came under the control of the Macedon’s King Philip V for a short period. It was recovered by the Rhodians in 197 BC, keeping it until 167 BC when with the whole of Caria was declared free by the Roman Senate.

The key monuments visible to the modern visitor include a large theatre fitting 10,000 spectators, a temple of Augustus, a colonnaded street lined by mosaics, a bouleuterion (council chamber) with multiple Roman inscriptions (including a copy of Diocletian’s Price Edict of 301 AD), and an enormous Hellenistic gymnasium. The gymnasium was built in the second quarter of the 2nd century BC to the west end of the city and was richly decorated in the Corinthian order. The total length of the building is estimated at 180 meters, making it the largest known gymnasium in antiquity.

In the territory of Stratonicea there were three important sanctuaries: Zeus Chrysaoreus, Hecate at Lagina, to the north of the city and Zeus Panamareus. A Sacred Way led to the sanctuary of Hecate, beginning from the northern gate of Stratonicea’s walls through the necropolis.

The first scientific excavations at the site began in 1977 under the direction of Prof. Dr Yusuf Boysal. Since 2008, excavations and restoration works have been carried out by Prof. Dr Bilal Söğüt from the Pamukkale University. The excavations of 2015 unearthed many Byzantine-era tombs.

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The Gymnasium was built in the second quarter of the 2ndcentury BC to the west end of the city in a small distance from the fortification wall.
The Gymnasium was built in the second quarter of the 2nd century BC to the west end of the city in a small distance from the fortification wall.
The total length of the Gymnasium is estimated to be 267 m. Hence it is the largest known gymnasium from antiquity.
The total length of the Gymnasium is estimated to be 267 m and is thought to be the largest known gymnasium from antiquity.
The ruins of the Ephebeion (where the Ephebes would receive instruction on Greek culture) of the impressive Gymnasium, built in the second quarter of the 2nd century BC to the west end of the city, Stratonicea Caria, Turkey
The ruins of the Ephebeion where the Ephebes would receive instruction on Greek culture. It was part of the Gymnasium.
The ruins of the impressive Gymnasium, built in the second quarter of the 2nd century BC to the west end of the city, Stratonicea Caria, Turkey
The ruins of the impressive Gymnasium. The 105 metre wide and 267 metre long complex served both as a sports centre and a classroom where history and philosophy classes were given in the past.
The Late Hellenistic Bouleuterion, built around 130 BC, Stratonicea Caria, Turkey
The Bouleuterion was located at the centre of the city. Based on the architectural elements and decoration, the building can be dated back to the second half of the 1st century BC.
The Late Hellenistic Bouleuterion with four lower rows of seats are still preserved.
The Late Hellenistic Bouleuterion has four of its lower rows of seats still preserved.
The Late Hellenistic Bouleuterion, built around 130 BC, Stratonicea Caria, Turkey
The Late Hellenistic Bouleuterion.
The exterior façade of the Bouleuterion provides one of the fullest versions of the long Prices Edict of Diocletian. The Latin inscription showed the price list of merchandises and services in Stratonicea in 301 AD. Therefore, the sales in the city remained under control and inflation was prevented. This inscription is the best preserved example in Asia Minor and the only one carved on a wall of a bouleuterion.
The interior façade of the Bouleuterion with also had a calendar inscribed in Greek. It was made by Menippos, a native of Stratonikeia who, according to Cicero, was one of the most distinguished orators of his time.
The remains of the Propylaea, a monumental gateway.
The remains of the Propylaea, a monumental gateway.
The remains of the Propylaea, a monumental gateway.
The remains of the Propylaea, a monumental gateway.
The ruins of Stratonicea among the buildings of the old village of Eskihisar.
The ruins of Stratonicea among the buildings of the old village of Eskihisar.
The ruins of the Stoa at the edge of the Agora, Stratonicea.
The ruins of the Stoa at the edge of the Agora.
The ruins of Stratonicea.
The ruins of Stratonicea.
The peripteral temple built in the Ionic order, it is situated on the upper terrace and was probably dedicated to the Roman Emperor (possibly Augustus), early imperial period, Stratonicea, Caria, Turkey
The peripteral temple was built in the Ionic order. It is situated on the upper terrace and was dedicated to the Emperor Augustus.
The peripteral temple built in the Ionic order, it is situated on the upper terrace and was probably dedicated to the Roman Emperor (possibly Augustus), early imperial period, Stratonicea, Caria, Turkey
The Temple of Augustus.
The Temple of Augustus.
The Temple of Augustus.
The theatre, erected in the Hellenistic period in the north slope of the south hill, its capacity was approximately 10,000 spectators, Caria, Turkey
The theatre was erected in the Hellenistic period in the north slope of the south hill. Its capacity was approximately 10,000 spectators.
The ruins of the scene (scaenae frons) of the Theatre.
The ruins of the scene (scaenae frons) of the Hellenistic Theatre.
A carved Thyrsus which formed part of the decoration of the scene in the Hellenistic Theatre, the thyrsus, associated with Dionysus, god of the Theatre.
A carved Thyrsus which formed part of the decoration of the scene in the Hellenistic Theatre, the thyrsus, associated with Dionysus, god of the Theatre.

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Halicarnassus

Halicarnassus was an ancient Greek city at the site of modern Bodrum in Turkey. It was located in southwest Caria on a picturesque, advantageous site on the Ceramic Gulf. The city was famous for the tomb of Mausolus, the origin of the word mausoleum, built between 353 BC and 350 BC, and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was part of the Persian Empire until captured by Alexander the Great at the siege of Halicarnassus in 334 BC.

The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, constructed for King Mausolus during the mid-4th century BC at Halicarnassus in Caria, Bodrum, Turkey

Coordinates: 37° 2′ 16″ N, 27° 25′ 27″ E

Haliarnassus

The Mausoleum was built as a tomb for the Persian Satrap Mausolus, a member of the Hecatomnid dynasty who governed Caria from 377 to 353 BC. Mausolus moved his capital from Mylasa to Halicarnassus. He founded many cities in the Greek model and encouraged Greek democratic traditions.

When Maulosus died in 353 BC, his queen Artemisia (who was also his sister) decided to build him the most splendid tomb in the known world. It was an elaborate tomb 135 feet (41 m) tall and ornately decorated with fine statuary and carvings in relief. It was destroyed by a series of earthquakes and stayed in ruins for hundreds of years until it was completely dismantled in 1494 and used by the Knights of Malta in the building of their castle at Bodrum. The modern word for a monumental tomb “mausoleum” derives from the Latin form of Mausolus’ name. Many statues and reliefs from the Mausoleum were carried to London’s British Museum in 1856 where they have been on display since then (see images here). At the site of the Mausoleum only the foundation remains as well as a small museum.

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Model of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, constructed for King Mausolus during the mid-4th century BC at Halicarnassus in Caria.

Just a short distance from the Mausoleum lies the theatre, the best preserved structure of ancient Halicarnassus. It is located 50 meters above sea level and overlooks the bay and the islands, providing a marvelous background for the spectators. The theatre was built in the 4th century BC during Mausolus’ reign and was enlarged in the 2nd century AD. The original capacity of the theatre is estimated as 10,000 people whereas the present capacity is almost 4,000.

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The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, constructed for King Mausolus during the mid-4th century BC at Halicarnassus in Caria, Bodrum, Turkey
The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, constructed for King Mausolus during the mid-4th century BC at Halicarnassus in Caria, Bodrum, Turkey
The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, constructed for King Mausolus during the mid-4th century BC at Halicarnassus in Caria, Bodrum, Turkey
The ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
Architectural elements from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
Architectural elements from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
Slab of the Amazonomachy frieze from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. On display in the British Museum in London.
Slab of the Amazonomachy frieze from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. On display in the British Museum in London.
Colossal statues of a man and a woman from the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos, traditionally identified as Maussollos and Artemisia II, around 350 BC. On display in the British Museum in London.
Colossal statues of a man and a woman from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, traditionally identified as Maussollos and Artemisia II. On display in the British Museum in London.
The theatre of ancient Halicarnassus, built in the 4th century BC during the reign of King Mausolos and enlarged in the 2nd century AD, the original capacity of the theatre was 10,000, Bodrum, Turkey
The theatre of ancient Halicarnassus was built in the 4th century BC during the reign of King Mausolos and was enlarged in the 2nd century AD.
The theatre of ancient Halicarnassus, built in the 4th century BC during the reign of King Mausolos and enlarged in the 2nd century AD, the original capacity of the theatre was 10,000, Bodrum, Turkey
The original capacity of the theatre of Halicarnassus was 10,000.
The theatre of ancient Halicarnassus.
The theatre of ancient Halicarnassus.

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