When there is a desire to get in touch with the ancient history and the amazing past of human civilization, it is difficult to find a place near Alanya that would reflect a deep cut of times like the ancient city of Side. This city is not just an architectural monument of ancient Greek and Roman architecture – it is a whole city that has become an open-air museum. There are ancient streets, theaters, temples, baths, gymnasiums, hospitals, the remains of an ancient aqueduct, a large amphitheater and tombs. It will take you more than one day to explore this unique space, to properly study all its details. Archaeological excavations are still going on here, more and more layers of ancient life are being revealed, new artifacts are exhibited in the local museum.
Of course, not all finds have been preserved within Turkey. So, a statue of Emperor Vespasian was taken to Berlin, which stood in the central niche of the fountain near the Arc de Triomphe. Mostly all antique buildings have survived to this day in a dilapidated and completely destroyed state, but this does not prevent history lovers from enjoying the views of ancient ruins and getting incredible impressions and insights from contact with the distant past. Walk through the ancient streets, where there were ordinary modest houses and mansions of wealthy merchants, go out to the market square, where during the seizure of the city pirates traded slaves, sit in an amphitheater for 18,000 spectators and imagine how gladiator or animal fights take place below on the stage – a fantasy takes you further and further into the ancient world, scenes of the ancient life of the city are drawn in the head by themselves.
For a comfortable walk in the summer, you need to be careful. First of all, you need to protect yourself from the sun, from which there is nowhere to hide. Do not walk among antique ruins in the midday area without a hat and drinking water – this will not bring you pleasure. Choose morning or evening for walks when the sun is not so active. In general, the city is open around the clock, only some objects, such as the museum and the amphitheater are closed at night, so you can safely go on an excursion after sunset, especially since the seafront at this time offers pleasant gatherings in cafes and restaurants for every taste and budget.
The city of Side is mentioned in the Old Testament. The name Side is translated from the local Anatolian language as pomegranate – a symbol of the city’s prosperity. In ancient times, the local Mint minted its own silver coins depicting this fruit along with images of Athena and Apollo.
It is known that in the VII century BC. Greeks came to the city, and this time is considered the period of its foundation, however, Greek settlers came to the existing settlement. Moreover, they stopped speaking their own language, and quickly adopted the special local dialect in which the aborigines communicated. Taking into account the high culture of the ancient Greek civilization, one can only guess who the people who inhabited this area before the advent of the Greeks were, since the latter did not even preserve their native Greek language in the new environment.
It is believed that Side reached its greatest flourishing in the II century BC under the Romans. Then, in the 1st century BC it was captured by pirates, which forced the locals to give their squares, markets and port to the slave trade, but in 78 BC Side was released and already in 25 BC officially became a provincial Roman port city. In the AD 2nd and 3rd centuries the city reached the peak of its prosperity, again became an educational and cultural center, and the Mint, which operated during the previous period of Roman rule, resumed its work. Most of the statues and monumental structures that have survived to this day belong to this period.
From the end of the 3rd century, Side began to be raided by the northern hill tribes, from which they had to defend themselves by fortifying the city walls. As a result, the local residents built a new large wall, which divided the city into southern and northern parts, and all residents moved to the southern part of the city.
In the IV century, Side was swept by a wave of a new religion at that time – Christianity, and the city became the center of the Eastern Pamphilian diocese. By the 10th century, the city was completely ruined by pirates, who by that time had plagued all the coastal regions of Pamphylia for three centuries. In addition, Side was badly damaged by earthquakes, which turned it into ruins. The inhabitants were forced to leave it, and Side remained uninhabited for a long time. It is believed that neither during the reign of the Seljuks, nor during the time of the Ottomans, no one lived here – people called Side the city of ghosts. Only at the end of the 19th century, settlers from the island of Crete settled in Side, and after another 50 years, official archaeological excavations began here, which continue to this day.
Side city is located near Manavgat, almost halfway from Alanya to Antalya. To fully enjoy the beauty of the remains of the ancient world, it is better to plan a full-fledged trip with at least one overnight stay, however, if you are not the greatest connoisseur of ancient ruins, one day is enough for you, and in this case, more attention should be paid to walks along the seafront and shopping arcades. visiting only the main attractions – the Temple of Apollo, the amphitheater and, if desired, the museum.
Side is ideal for a romantic evening walk – the enchanting atmosphere of an ancient city on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, cozy restaurants, pleasant coolness after a hot summer day – everything is very conducive to a wonderful pastime with people you love.