Soon, the city became an important trade centre and was one of the first cities in the region to strike coinage under its own name. In the 6th century BC Lydian King Croesus conquered the city, later Persians dominated Aspendos after they won the fight with the Lydians. In 467 B.C the Lydians retook the city with a surprise attack. However, their domination did not last long, Persians attacked and took over again.
Aspendos was dominated by Alexander, The Great, who used the city as a base in the 3rd century BC, when he died the Kingdom of Pergamum ruled Aspendians until the Roman Empire expanded in the region.
In the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, with vineyards and olive trees all around, Aspendos got wealthier. Built in the 2nd Century A.C. during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, Aspendos Theatre is one of the products of cultural and economical welfare.
Aspendos Theatre was designed by the architect Xenon, and, according to inscriptions on it, given as a gift from two brothers, Curtius Crispinus and Curtius Auspicatus, to the Roman gods and the Imperial House. The famous aqueduct was constructed in the same period by a local architect and presented to the ruler.
Aspendos was gifted by nature, having such fertile soil and the river Eurymedon where the merchants took ships to Mediterranean Sea. It is also told that the city had the strongest horses of the time that were exported in West Mediterranean region.
Seljuk Turks settled in the region in the 13th century and restored the magnificent theatre while using it as a place for governors. During the rule of Ottomans, the historical value of the region was not noticed. Aspendos became known all around the world after The First World War and the theatre was restored during the 1930's.
The most important property of Aspendos Antique Theatre with the capacity of 15000 people is its resiliance. After many earthquakes, Aspendos is still standing with its astonishing architecture.
There are the boxes of selected important citizens on the main entrances. The upper side of the auditorium is surrounded by 58 columns and a gallery consisting of arches.
The whole auditorium has 20 rows of seats on the lower auditorium and 21 rows of seat on the upper auditorium. The theatre was built by local architects Xenon and his two brothers Curtius Chrispinus and Curtius Auscipatus in the period of the Emperor Antonius Pius (138-164).
It attracts attention with its special acoustics. You can test it yourself too. Go to the top of the upper auditorium, send your friends to the stage, and tell them to talk silently. If there isn’t noise around you can hear them easily.
There is a legend about Aspendos, according to a rumour among locals Antonius Pius had a beautiful daughter and two architects were in love with her. Antonius Pius gave a duty to both of them; he told them that he would marry off his daughter to the man who makes the most beautiful and useful creation. One architect built the aqueduct bringing water to Belkıs, and the other one the theatre. The Emperor was surprised and couldn’t make a decision. He wanted to divide his daughter into two pieces but the builder of the aqueduct who loved this girl more then the other architect objected this decision and said, “let her marry with the creator of the theatre.”
Aspendos Theatre welcomes many musicians every year, the annual festival of opera and ballet is held there each summer, International artists give concerts and the magnificent theatre combines historical values with artistic talent.
Surprisingly, the theatre was badly neglected until the 1930’s. After the visit of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who was a patron of the arts and sensitive about the historical and cultural values of the country, Aspendos was taken under protection of the state.
In the photographs exhibited in the Museum of Aspendos Theatre, you can see how this historical building was neglected before 1930s. We have Atatürk to thank for the wonderfully restored and protected theatre we see today..
The Museum of Aspendos Theatre is a small place, there are articles about the theatre, pictures of actors during the ancient times, and some photos of the theatre.
Care of the ruins of the city is not so attentive though and there is a Basilica-Agora located at the east side of the theatre but it is covered by shrubs and bushes and hard to navigate. You have to walk along the trail existing on the rear of the theatre. It’s a tiring walk because of the shrubs and thorns although it’s only around 200 meters. However, you will see some marble ruins along the way so the history is under your feet.
You can see the ruins of the gymnasium, hammam (bath) and fountains. You can see only the front side of the fountain located at the north of Agora. The ruins of the city council building are at the northwest.
Since there are no signboards to explain the ruins in the Agora you have to look around carefully. There is a necropolis at the east side of the city centre covered by daisies. The excavations in this area are controlled by Antalya Museum.
Belkis Bridge at the length of 225 meters is built on Köprüçay known as “Eurymedon” in the past years. One more bridge is constructed on the ruins of the bridge built by Romans in the time of Alaaddin Keykubad, the Emperor of Anatolian Seljuk.
The restoration in 1996-1998 make the Bridge useful but then it was banned for all types of vehicles. Today no vehicles can pass from this bridge. It’s thought that the aqueduct of Belkis Village was built at the same time with the theatre.