Didyma (nearby Didim, in the Aegean region of Turkey) was a cult center for the city of Miletus. It is located in the present day village of Yeniköy, about fifteen kilometers from the site of Miletus. In ancient times, it was connected to its mother city by a sacred road that had statues located on either side of it.
The Didymaion, the temple to Apollo and its oracle at Didyma, was of considerable repute among the ancients. German archaeologists excavating at the site have shown that the earliest sanctuary here was built in the 8th century B.C. and that it was enlarged into an enormous temple around 560 B.C. After their bloody suppression of the Ionian rebellion, the Persians sacked and laid waste to Miletus (which they regarded as the instigator) and the Didymaion in 494 B.C. It was during this assault that the temple's cult statue of Apollo was carried off to Ecbatana. After Alexander the Great defeated the Persians in 334 B.C., the Ionian cities regained their independence and work was begun on reconstructing the Apollo temple.
Around 300 B.C., King Seleukos I of Syria, who then controlled western Anatolia, had the bronze statue of Apollo brought back from Ecbatana to be installed in the new temple, to whose construction he also provided monetary assistance. The new building was designed by the architects Paionios and Daphnis. The former was from Ephesus and was one of those who worked on the Artemision there. The temple was planned on a much grander scale than the original sanctuary and indeed it was the third largest religious structure in the ancient world being surpassed only by the Ephesian Artemision and a temple on the island of Samos. The Hellenistic temple measured 109.34 by 51.13 meters and had a total of 124 columns. It was set on a seven-stepped platform measuring 3.5 meters high and in the center of the east front there was a separate flight of fourteen steps. The construction of so huge a building naturally took a long time and continued during the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. One section was only completed in Roman times. While the temple suffered repeatedly from fires and earthquakes, it sustained the worst damage in an earthquake in 1493.
The columns still standing measure 2.40 meters in diameter and 19.70 meters in height. The double row of columns surrounding the temple was covered over with a marble roof as was the temple proper. The central courtyard measured 53.63 by 21.71 meters and was the site of the Archaic period temple. During Hellenistic times, a small temple (called as naiskos) was built here to house the bronze statue of Apollo. Its surrounding walls were 25 meters in height and decorated with Gryphons. The cella was unroofed. East of the adyton (sacred courtyard) is a great stairway of 24 steps measuring 15.20 meters wide. This flight of steps leads up to a windowless, three door hall where the oracle was written down and delivered. The hall measured 20 meters high and had a marble roof. East of the chamber, a door 5.63 meters wide and 14 meters high leads to the pronaos. The pronouncement of the oracles could only be listened to from outside the chamber. Stairways led to the upper floor. On either side of the entrance are doors measuring 2.25 meters high and 1.2 meters wide that each connects to a narrow, vaulted tunnel leading to the adyton. At the far end of each corridor is a small propylon-like room.
WHERE TO VISIT?
Priene which is in Güllübahce at a distance of 15 km from Söke (nearby Kusadasi, in the Aegean region of Turkey), was founded in the 2nd millennium and carried to its present locality in 350 B.C. from the original place which is still unknown.
At the point of entrance of the ruins, a road on the right leads us to the Theater of Priene. The theater had been built during the Hellenistic period, and underwent modifications during the Roman period. The theater consists of 50 rows of seats and is capable of holding 5.000 people and, in the section of the orchestra of the theater, there are five marble armchairs reserved for eminent people. On the right side of the theater, the Themenos of Egyptian Gods is situated. The upper Gymnasium is in front of the theater and the Byzantine church is at its side. The Temple of Athena belongs to the 4th c. B.C. and it is the work of the architect Pytheos who also built Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The temple, with 6 x 11 columns, has dimensions of 19.55 x 37.20 m. A few columns of the temple, which is a classical example of Ionian architecture, have been erected. Alexander the Great had the eastern half of the temple completed. The altar in the front was decorated with high relieves in the past, and it belongs to the 2nd century B.C. The Stoa that displays a graceful example of stone workmanship, is on the south of the Temple of Athena.
Going downwards from the temple, you can see the Agora of Priene which belongs to the 3rd century B.C. Next to that there was also an fish and meat market. The sacred Stoa belonging to the 2nd century B.C., is situated north of the Agora. The Bouleuterion (the Assembly building) which looks like a small square theater, with dimensions of 20 x 21 m and a capacity for 640 people, is adjacent to the Stoa and, adjacent to it, there is Prytaneion (Town Hall) from 2nd century B.C. where the sacred fire used to burn. Temenos of Zeus Olympios is situated east of the Agora. There are houses on two sides of the avenue which connects the Agora to the western gate. Temenos of Kybele and the house of Alexander the Great are situated at the western gate side of the avenue. In the extreme south of Priene, the lower Gymnasium and the Stadium are situated.
Miletus which is in the vicinity of Söke (nearby Kusadasi, in the Aegean region of Turkey), was on the seashore in the ancient times. The Miletus people who had founded about 90 colonies in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, after 650 B.C., had resisted the Persian invasions in Anatolia, but they were defeated finally and the city was destroyed by the Persians in 5th c. B.C.
When you arrive at the zone of the ruins, the magnificent theater of the city appears in sight at first. The theater had been constructed during the Hellenistic period and, it acquired its present characteristics by means of the annexes made during the Roman period. The walls of the front facade of the theater, are 140 m long and 30 m high, and are an interesting example of stone workmanship. This theater was large enough to hold 24.000 people, and a fortress was built upon it during the Byzantine period seizing its capacity to 15.000 people.
On the opposite side of the theater there is a Selcuk Caravanserai and the baths built for Faustina the II., wife of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 A.D.), are situated adjacent to the theater. The Temple of Serapis, belonging to the 3rd century A.D., is behind the baths. The rectangular buildings seen on one side, are warehouse buildings. The adjacent Southern Agora building which has dimensions of 164 x 196 m and is surrounded by stoas, belongs to the 2nd century A.D. and its southern gate is at the museum of Berlin today.
When you go out through the northern gate of the Agora, you see the Bishop's Church, Martyrion belonging to the 5th century A.D. beside it, and the ceremonial road which is 100 m long and 28 m wide, extending in front of the Agora. On the east side of it, there is a fountain in the Public Square (Nymphaion) belonging to the 2nd century A.D., and Bouleuterion (the Senate Building) is situated opposite to it. It is known that this building had been constructed during the years 175-164 B.C., and the Temple of Asklepios and the Sacred Place are situated at its side. At the side of these, the Northern Agora extends along the sacred road and at the right hand side of the sacred road, there is the Gymnasium belonging to the 2nd century B.C. the entrance of which has been brought to an erect position at present.
The baths that Vergilius Capito had ordered to be constructed during the time of Claudius, are situated north of the Gymnasium; and some of these baths were used during the Selcuk Period. at the northern end of the Ceremonial Road, the Harbor Gate which was a passage with 16 columns is situated; and on the east of this road there is Delphinion which is a work of the Archaic period.
When you go towards the north from here, the port stoa, the Harbor Monument built in the year 31 B.C., the Small Harbor Monument and the Synagogue are located at the left hand side. The statues of the lions on both sides of the port were used to block the entrance to the Military Harbor by a chain. On the opposite side, the Roman Baths are seen.
The remains of the Stadium, Western Agora and the Temple of Athena belonging to the 5th c. B.C., are located south of Miletus. The only ancient Turkish work in Miletus is the Mosque of Ilyas Bey, ruler of the area at that time. The mosque was built in the year 1404 A.D. and it can be visited today.