Aspendos theaterAspendos is located to the east of Antalya and is famous for its best-preserved ancient amphitheater built in the 2nd century AD during the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The theater has a capacity of 15,000 people and is still used today for performances and festivals. Its galleries, stage decorations and acoustics all testify to its architect Xeno’s success. Next to the stage there is a small room which is used as a small museum where you can see some of the masks and clay tickets from the ancient times. Just above the theater there is the acropolis with a great view of the river from the top, where you can see a basilica, an agora, a nymphaeum and and a bouleuterion (council), all of them in ruins. About one kilometer north of the town there is one of the largest Roman aqueducts in Anatolia which supplied Aspendos with water.
The river passing next to the city is called Köprüçay (ancient Euromydon) and was navigable once upon a time. This was also the place where the Persians used to breed their horses between 6th-4th centuries B.C. during their rule in Asia Minor.
According to the legend, Aspendos was first founded by Greek colonists who came to Pamphylia region after the Trojan War. There are also possibilities that the city could be founded by the Hittites. Aspendos was one of the cities in this region to mint silver coins under its own name. Together with their neighbors Perge, Aspendos was also left under the Persian rule between 6th and 5th centuries BC, then became a member of the Attic-Delos Maritime confederation after its liberation by the Athenians. But later in the 5th century BC Persians captured the city again and stayed there until the arrival of Alexander the Great in 333 BC. After the death of Alexander, the city was controlled by the Seleucids, and then the Kingdom of Pergamum until 133 B.C. when the Romans took over Pergamon.
During the Roman rule, like other Pamphylian cities, Aspendos lived its heydays between 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. During the Byzantine rule the city continued to survive. In the 13th century the Seljuks settled in Aspendos and converted the theater into a palace.
Today, Aspendos is also known with its local name: Belkis or Belkiz.
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