Historical Background

Heading South 75 km. from Antalya lies Alanya. From the main road is a nice avenue winding through hotels and houses for about 3 km which will lead you to Side. This is the furthest city in the east part of the historical area of Pamphylia. Situated on a peninsula about 1000 m long and 400 m. wide, it played an important role as a commercial port. Side used to be one of the most important trade centres in the antiquity and now it is one of the most popular holiday resort towns in Turkey.

According to Strabon the ancient geographer, Side was first established in the 7 th century B.C. as a trade colony of the Aegean city Kyme, near Yzmir. Merchants took up the local language, and Side took the name "Side", meaning pomegranate, a fruit symbolizing abundance and fertility.

Like the other Pamphylian cities, Side was ruled by Lybia(?) in the sixth cent. B.C. and Persia after 547 B.C. The coins minted in there prove that Side had at least an internal independence.

Alexander the Great conquered Side in the first year of the great campaign on Asia in 334 B.C., and was introduced the city to Hellenistic culture. After his death the empire was shared by generals. The Southern Turkey, including Side changed hands quite often, especially between the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt ( 3rd century B.C.) and the Seleucid dynasty of Syria ( 2nd century B.C.) after the apameia peace agreement between the Romans and the defeated Syrian kingdom. Pergama could not gain complete control over Side. King Attalos of Pergama founded a new city, Attaleia (Antalya) as a commercial rival to Side and others on the Southern coast. At the turn of century Side was a slave-trade centre in the hands of Pirates. Only the Romans were able to stop piracy on the eastern Mediterranean and allow the southern Anatolian cities in Cilicia, Pamphylia and Lycia to prosper again in peace and safety in 78 B.C.

Pamphylia was added to the province of Galatia by emperor Augustus in 25 B.C. when all the provinces in the Roman empire were re-organised. Side had a second birth with abundant wealth until the 3rd century A.D. as a Pamphylian city, placed sometimes in Galatia, and at other time in Lycia. Especially its active role in the slave trade enabled this semi-independent city to acquire wealth and most of the structures in ruins seen today were built during this period of time. Side felt it necessary to repaire the defensive walls in the second half of the 3rd century A.D because of successive attacks by the highlanders in the north. Furthermore, they built an inner wall right through the city in the 4th cent A.D.. Unfortunately, these precautions were not enough to secure Side’s great days of wealth, and Side started to decline.

One day, according to Anatolion mythology, the god Taurus took her youngest daughter Side, who had been the goddes of nature and abundance, to the valley of the River Manauwa (Manavgat). This was a place for picking flowers to make wreaths with the Nymphs (water-fairies). While picking these flowers and dancing with the Nymphs, Side suddenly sees a tree with thin branches having shiny leaves and colourful flowers. She breaks off a branch, to take it to her little daugther. As she breaks the branch it starts to bleed. Side realizes that the tree is not real and that it is a Nymph who had escaped from some wicked human beings and taken the shape of a tree. She is so sorry and so scared that she wants to go away, but she can't. She is stuck and she feels her feet become buried in the ground. Her body then takes the form of a tree. The Nymphs are sad and start crying. The fresh roots of Side are said to be watered with the tears of these Nymphs. Side said that it was her fault and asked the Nymphs to take a message to her little daugher The message is as follows; From now on I'll be the symbol of nature, life and abundance with my blood-red rich fruit, I ask you to take my daughter here from time to time, to play in my shade. And warn her not to pick flowers and never damage trees on earth; because any of those trees could be a Goddess. This is why the peninsula of Side full of pomegranate trees.

The walls of Antique Side surround the city all around the peninsula. The length of the inner walls is about 6 km. The width of the walls on the sea-side is nearly 3 meters at some points. The height reaches 10 m. On the walls there are 13 semi-circular and rectangular towers for watching and defence.

The main entrance, The GREAT GATE, was built in the North-East. The oldest entrance of the Antique City, now in ruins, had been restored many times. The last form of the Gate was given in Roman times. It was built as two storeys on an arched base. To defend the gate were two towers on each side where the soldiers were on guard. These towers are about 10m high.

The secont Great Gate of the City was built to the East of the city. The Gate was buried in sand for many years, and has recently been cleaned up and is being exhibited. It had been built with conglomerate types of block-stones. You can walk to the Square of Protocol passing two circle-arched corridors behind the door on which there are two rectangular watch and defence towers. The base of The Square which is 50m wide had been decorated with mosaics during Byzantium times.

In Antique times the water needed in Side was brought from the river Manavgat by means of water-arches (aqueducts) which were built between the village Sevinç of today and Side. The length of the waterway is 30 km and the height reachs 25m at some points. Some parts of the waterway was carved into rocks.

The Grand Monumental Fountain was built near the Castellum Aqua, which could be seen at the end of the waterway on the arches that brought water to the city from the River Manavgat. It stands opposite the Great Entrance Gate in the northwest of the city. The fountain seems to have two storeys today; but it is supposed to have been built in three storeys with the dimensions 5 m height and 35 m width.

The street that starts at the door of Protocol, was built in between the Great Entrance Gate and takes you to the Square of Agora, south, and is 250 m long with columns on both sides. It was given the name "Kolonnel Street".

The ruins of the Antique Houses on both sides of Kolonnel Street, were mainly built as diateas (living-rooms), lined-up around the big inner hall named Atrium. There was usually a fountain in the middle of the inner hall, and floors of the rooms were decorated with mosaics.

The Big Agora of the city takes place in front of the theatre which was built at the end of Kolonnel Street. It measures 92x92 m (outer) and 65x65 m (inner). The entrance to the Agora is supposedly through the monumental gate in the west. The Agora is surrounded by granite columns and was called Portiko. You can reach the Portiko, which is 4 m wide, walking up two flights of stairs. There are decorated marble blocks on 100 chorinthiand and ionic columns. In the middle of the Agora you notice the ruins of a temple (as could be found in all Antique Cities) with 12 columns surrounding it. It had belonged to the goddess of luck and commerce, Fortuna. People from different social classes could have discussions in the Agoras and inform the crowds. The Agora in Side was connected to the stage building of the theatre by means of a passage and both places were used for slave trading, in B.C 100.

You can reach the square State Agora after a short walk of about 50 meters along a stony road in the East direction from the Commercial Agora. The Portika of the Agora is surrounded by double columns on all sides and was used for offical purposes and protocols. Around it there were official buildings.

The Palace and Basilica seen in the complex of a building takes place near by the Eastern Gate. In the middle of the courtyard between the Palace and the Basilica there is the martyrion and you can enter the complex of from the western side. The rooms of the complex have many sections and they have arches made of bricks. In the middle of the complex there is a square area with three sections for sitting. The Schabel of the Bishop can still be seen in front of the platform, and the obsis has the characteristics of Byzantian construction. The Great Basilica of the Bishop in the Eastern part of the complex was probably built in A.D. 600 and had a trancept plan. The obsis of the Basilica in the Eastern direction has a spherical plan inside and a triangular one on the outside.

The front side of the one-arched (15 m high and 7 m wide) fountain was covered with marble. It was situated between the museum present today and the Western end of the Agora near the Theatre. This fountain with one tap is very attractive with its marble frescos.

Opposite the Fountain of Vespasianus stands the Fountain with three Pools on one side of the Agora Bath facing the street with coloumns. The fountain was probably built in 300 A.D. In front of the fountain there were corinthian columns, but today you can only see the three pools covered with marble.

Theatres were important places for the activities of groups of people in Antique times. Struggles with nature were also significant events in those days. People started showing their feelings towards the events they faced and the productions resulting from their struggle with the nature were symbolized in festivals. At the very beginning, human-beings disclosed their feelings by celebrating such events by singing and dancing. The first dramas came out of those celebrations. Carving rows of seats in slopes in Antique Cities and making circular areas in the middle of 500 B.C. were the first steps taken in the architecture of Theatres. Highly tolerated actors could even make fun of the gods and the Emperors in their plays. The players could also start a discussion with the audiences after the dramas in which they criticise things related to their country. When the plays were approved of, a great applause could be heard and when they disapproved, the audiences would protest by hitting the stone of the marble seats with their sandals. In the two epigraphs which were discovered in excavations it was written that Modesta, who was one of the richest men of Side, had financed fights between Gladiators. The two epigraphs are being displayed in the Museum of Side. During the raids of Arabs in the 8th century the theatre was burned down and destroyed. Later, the building of the stage collapsed at the orchestra pit due to a earthquake. The excavations and explorations in the theatre are still in proggress.

In the north of the Great Harbour Bath there is the Temple of Men. The temple was built in the name of the anatolian moon god, Men, and it had a semi-circular podium. Supposedly, the temple was built in 500 B.C. and was restored twice; first in the times of Alexander the Great and later in the Byzantian period.

The ruins of the Temple of Bacus today was situated in the North end of The Square just in front of the Entrance of the theatre of Side. Only the stairs and the marble podium of the temple remain today.The temple was constructed in the name of the god of wine and entertainment, Bacus. In front of the entrance there were four Corinthian columns made of red granite. And you can walk up to the front area going up 7 marble stairs with five half columns on each side. The plan was a Pouseudoperipteros one. It was discovered that the temple was built near a small theatre before the construction of the great theater of Side in 300 B.C.

The Bath complex with four big halls parallel to each other and three rooms built next to them was constructed to the South of Side theatre, just behind the harbour walls. The Bath, which was built in A.D. 300 and was restored several times´was rectangular. In later years two gyms. were added to the complex. You can enter the bath trough the changing-room in the north named Apoditerum.

The two temples which were built next to each other within a Peripteros plan were situated in the Southern end of the peninsula Side. The one in the East belonged to Apollo and the one in the west to Athena. During the period of Paxromana, the Goddess of Anatolia, Kybele and the moon god, Men, were purified and sanctified with the head gods of Side, Apollo and Athena. This was why the people of Side built those two splendid temples. The temple which was built for the god Apollo, who had been sanctified as the god of light, beauty and art had a rectangular plan with the dimensions of 17x30 m. On top of it there are corinthian columns (8,90 m. high and in rows 6 by11). The columns around the temple had bases with holes in the middle: showing us that there were pieces of iron underneath on which the columns were situated.

This temple was built next to the temple of Apollo in the form of a peripheros plan with the dimensions 20x35 m. It is a little bigger than the Temple of Apollo and has columns similar to it. The block on the columns attracts attention with its decorative reliefs.

The southern location of the harbour on the peninsula was very important for Side which was a maritine business center. The harbour was surrounded by a breakwater made of conglpmerat stones.

During the period of Paxromana, with the growth of trade, Bath was built behind The Harbour in order to cover the need.

With few restorations in the recent years the Side museum was founded on the complex of the Bath which was built in the period of Romans. You enter the museum through the door on the East side. Then you go into the stony courtyard which is known as the second tepidorium of the Bath. When crossing the courtyard you enter a big garden. Around the courtyard and in the garden you can see tombs, columns, busts, inscriptions, statues, pedestals and reliefs which were excavated from the city Antique Side. The garden of the museum is actually the courtyard, and is the Gym. The most important monument in the marble floored courtyard is the series of frieses which have the mythological tales of Poseidon, the god of seas on the Northern Wall. In these stories the relationship of the gods and goddesses with nature is described. In the passages between the sections of the Bath there are coloured fences.