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)


Elaiussa Sebaste

Elaiussa Sebaste was an ancient coastal city off the eastern coast of Cilicia, now a peninsula located 55 km west of Mersin on the southern coast of Anatolia. The Greeks founded the settlement in the early 1st century BC which became one of the most important centres of Eastern Rough Cilicia. Archelaus I of Cappadocia (r. 36 BC-AD 17) made the city his capital and changed its name to “Sebaste” in honour of his benefactor, Emperor Augustus. The city lived its heydays after the Cilician shores were cleaned from the pirates in AD 74 and became part of the Roman province of Cilicia. During the Byzantine period, Sebaste became a Christian city, and many churches were built. When its neighbour Corycus began to flourish in the 6th century AD, the city slowly sank into obscurity and seems not to have recovered from the period of Arab invasions. The area has been more or less deserted since.

Some interesting remains still exist on the peninsula, consisting of a small theatre from the 2nd century AD, an agora, a large Byzantine church, a Roman bath complex, and a temple on a hill overlooking the sea outside of the city.

Coordinates: 36°28’59.9″N 34°10’26.1″E


The construction of the theatre started in the first half of the 2nd century AD, while its final stage may be dated to the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (AD 161-169).
The theatre had a capacity of about 2,300 spectators. The orchestra was originally paved with marble slabs.
The scaenae frons of the theatre built over a sturdy ashlar structure with arches and pillars.
View of the Roman Agora and Christian Basilica. The agora was built in the latter part of the 2nd century AD and a two-apses basilica occupied the interior of the public building during the latter part of the 5th century AD.
The Roman agora was a vast open area with a quadrangular plan (31.60 x 32 m), bounded on all sides by a 6.85-metre-high wall in opus quadratum made of large limestone blocks.
Inside the Roman agora, there was a colonnaded portico on all four sides. They were paved in opus sectile during the Christian period.
During the Early Byzantine era the interior of the agora was entirely occupied by an imposing Christian basilica oriented east-west. It was divided into a nave and two aisles by two rows of columns.
The floors of the Christian basilica were decorated in opus sectile, composed of marble and limestone tiles arranged to create various geometric motifs.
Excavations carried out inside the tholos (circular structure) of the Roman Agora have brought to light the remains of a polychrome mosaic with marine motifs.
Mosaic with geometric patterns and sea animals.
Broken arched bridge which was part of the aqueduct that brought water to the city from the Lamas River.
Elaiussa Sebaste.
The Harbour baths complex lying in the promontory’s north-western edge on the bank of the northern port basin.
The Harbour Baths were erected directly against the limestone rocks of the hill and therefore do not follow the traditional plan of Roman bathing complexes. They were first built in the second half of the 1st century BC and underwent great restructuring works until the 5th century AD when the bathing function of the complex fell into disuse.
In the building’s southern section, hypocausts were brought to light.
The ruins of the The Byzantine Palace, built in the mid-5th century AD over the Roman fortifications.
The large round courtyard of the Byzantine Palace that connected the two wings of the palace.
The Yemişkumu aqueduct bridges (Lamas Aqueduct) near Elaiussa Sebaste. The Lamas River to the east of the city provided the source of water for Elaiussa. Along the route the water channel had to traverse a total of 7 aqueduct bridges to Elaiussa Sebaste. (Source)

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