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A journey to Termessos: the city just below the heavens…

In July 2018, I went to Antalya with my husband and son. Our holiday started later then we had planned because of my son’s unexpected health issues.  We had wanted to cancel it, but our son had dreamed of the sandy beaches of beautiful Turkey for the whole year and he had no intention of giving this up.

From Hadrian’s Gate at the centre of Antalya to the ancient city of Perge, the whole area is a heaven for history lovers.

My favourite one was the ancient city of Termessos, which is located about 30 kilometres north west of Antalya. Its unusual location makes this city unique for me. Standing on top of mount Solymos (Gulluk mountain), built at an altitude of 1000 metres and concealed by a pine forest, close to blue skies, the city looks just below the heavens.

There is a large cemetery at the beginning  of the city which had many rock-cut tombs. As you walk up the steep mountain path, you can see the remains of many impressive parts of this ancient place. The agora in the main square still have stone blocks standing strong. I could feel the buzz of the market at the ground floor, where once the open air market place stood.

The ruins of six temples are still visible mainly in the Odeon area. The temple of Zeus and the temple of Artemis are two of them,  with only few remains left. In the north of the city there were wide streets with shops on both sides. The structures were supported by columns with sculptures of successful athletes, mainly wrestlers in between them.

But for me the most impressive part of this magical place was the theatre from 2nd century AD. High above the city, with its captivating views of the mountains and the plains beyond, the Hellenistic period theatre still looks ready to entertain audiences of  5000. I sat down on the stone seating and closed my eyes to hear the voices of actors and audiences at the same time. The sky looked so close as if I could just reach to the heavens.

I did not want to leave this place, it didn’t have many tourists and the atmosphere was definitely was more splendid then other ancient cities that we had been to.

According to the historical records written by the historian Arrian,  Alexander the Great  wanted to capture the city because he was told by the people of Perge that this was the path to Phrygia from Pamphylia. Alexander soon realised that it wouldn’t be possible to capture the city, therefore he decided to pursue a different path.

As a Pisidian city, it is correct to suggest that it had characteristics of Greco Roman civilisation. Although it had many wars with surrounding Lycian cities, Termessos was granted independent status by the Romans in 71 BC. I was sad to find out that an earthquake changed everything in this place, making people abandon the city.