The ancient city of Aspendos, located about 50 kilometers east of Antalya, is one of Turkey's most famous historical destinations for visitors to the Turquoise Coast region. Everyone has come to see the site's theater, one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture.
Aspendos was perhaps Pamphylia's most significant city in antiquity. During the Roman era, when trade and commerce thrived, this magnificent metropolis attained its peak. According to legend, the town was built in 1000 BC by the great Greek diviner Mopsos, and archaeologists have discovered traces of a habitation here dating back to the Hittite era (800 BC).
The city's final demise was caused by the silting up of its harbor and the Byzantine Empire's centralization efforts, similar to the adjacent towns of Perge and Side. By the time the Seljuks ruled this region of Turkey, Aspendos' once-impressive theater had been reduced to a caravanserai.
The theater of Aspendos is one of the largest that the Romans ever erected in Asia Minor, and it is one of the best surviving examples of Roman theater design today. The theater, located in the lower town section of the site, was constructed during Marcus Aurelius' reign in the 2nd century AD.
The massive seating arrangement could accommodate a crowd of 15,000 to 20,000 people. It has been restored to its former glory and is currently used for music and theater events, notably Turkey's famed yearly Aspendos Opera Festival.
The 40-meter acropolis hill stands directly over Aspendos' lower village. The nymphaeum (fountain shrine), originally a massive building articulated by double columns but now represented only by a 32-meter-long wall with ten niches for sculptures, lies beyond the remnants of a small temple and the agora. The foundations of another structure, most likely the bouleuterion or council chamber, are adjacent to this north.