Ancient Cities Route

As we've mentioned from the first pages, İzmir which we define as the capital of Aegean is the member of Ionian City Union… In this section, we present you the ancient settlements in İzmir and its surroundings...

Colophon and Notion

Colophon was one of the oldest and most important cities of Ionia. The city is mentioned as "Nice Colophon" on "Asia’s fascinating shore" in a poem of Mimmnermus, a poet who is known to live in İzmir or be a resident of this city at the end of 7th century BC or at the beginning of 6th century. At the same time, Mimmnermus states that the city was established by the immigrants from Pylos led by Neleus. İzmir was an Aeol city fundamentally. Perhaps, it became an Ioanian settlement after Ionians came in the first half of the 8th century BC. Colophonians were very wealthy because of having fertility soil and their perfection in navigation. Wealth of the citizens turned comfortable life style into highlife. Sometimes, more than one thousand of men wearing luxury clothes and spraying on musk fragrance were pacing in agora. In the opinion of ancient writers, luxury life caused Colophon to lose its power. All the same, Colophonians were recognizable with their combativeness, especially horsemanship in the 8th and 7th centuries BC. When the city entered under Persian rule in the second half of 6th century, it lost its significance. Instead of it, a coastal settlement Notion, "the city in the south" started to develop. As Persians ruled Colophon, Notion was governed by Athens for a while. Colophon was reconstructed in 281 after the decease of Lysimachus and continued its existence under the rule of Seleukos and Attalus. In that period, Colophon was known as "Archaic Colophon", namely "Former Colophon". After losing this reputation, Colophon receded to Notion in south which was almost 15 km away. Hereafter, Notion started to be known as "New Colophon" or "Inshore Colophon". Besides, Colophon coming to be known to have a bright past in 6th and 7th centuries continued its importance with only the temple in Claros.


Sacred area of Claros where Ionia of ancient age worshipped the gods, especially Apollo is next to Ahmetbeyli village… Colophon is its southeast with a distance of 13 km. Claros is also in 2 km north of the ancient city of Notion. Establishment date of Claros is not known certainly. Additionally, it is supposed that it was built in the name of Colophon’s main god, Apollo in BC 7th century and at the beginning of the 6th century BC. Located on a flat area in a narrow valley, Apollo temple in Claros was very famous in Hellenistic period, particularly in Roman period because of being the place of horse-riding. The temple was built on a flat area, instead of a hill, because there was a sacred source and forest there. There is a path from Propylaea, entrance of a square temple supposed to be built in the 2nd century AC to Apollo temple. The path is surrounded by columns and statues on both sides. Several epitaphs which were written by the people going to a soothsayer in Propylaea to consult were found. Apollo statue above Cella has a height of 7.5 m. A monumental alter exists in front of the temple. A new temple in the north of Apollo temple was discovered. That temple may belong to Artemis. The antiques found in the excavation are exhibited in İzmir Archeology Museum. The first systematic researches were initiated by C. Schuchhardt in 1886. Schuchhardt who made the localization of Colophon city correctly during these studies detected two tumuli on the valley between Colophon and the sea later and determined the location of Notion.


The first settlement of Torbalı, located in 45 km east of İzmir is the ancient city of Metropolis established on a hill between Yeniköy village and Özbey village which are in the west of Torbalı plain. Metropolis was established in the time of the Selluokos Kingdom in the 3rd century BC by men of Lyzimachos. Metropolis means the city of the Mother Goddess. The statue giving the city the name of the mother goddess (its local name is Metagallezia) was found at the excavations made in Uyuzdere area. Metropolis improved in Hellenistic period (1st-2nd centuries B.C.), the city was surrounded by the glorious walls, a temple was built in the name of the warrior god Ares and monumental state buildings such as stoa and theatre were built. High quality and original sculpture works were created in the highest degree in Metropolis which is known as one of the most important centers of the Hellenistic period. The city developed from the hillsides during the period of the Roman Empire. The extant ruins including Atrium, the Roman House, the temples of Zeus and the twelve gods belong to that period. In Byzantine period, the city which is the center of episcopacy began to get smaller, its walls contracted and the city boundaries were restricted with fortress, stoa and acropolis. City theatre established on a natural hillside was made of marble completely and consists of orchestra area, stage building, sitting area and the seats for nobles in front side. These seats made for the important foreign guests, men of god and imperials are the most beautiful samples of the marble craftsmanship of the Hellenistic period. Behind the seats, thunderbolt beam of Zeus and shielded relief of Ares exist. The theatre is for 8.000 – 10.000 people. Each side of the stairs was decorated with lion feet with different figures. During the excavations of the ruins which were locally named as "Inn Wreckage", a magnificent bath structure built in the Roman Empire period was discovered. Pools with specially designed steps were found in the sides of the structure’s central hall. In researches and excavations which have been made for this structure since 2008, a palestrae, a square-shaped playfield, was discovered on the plain in the east of the bath. It was detected that floors of the columned galleries around the palestrae which was one of the sport centers of Metropolis were covered with mosaic tiling. The bath reflecting typical characteristics of Roman baths consist of hotness (calderium), warmness (tipidarium) and coldness (frigidarium). Bath was heated by a heating system with a height of one meter (hypocaust) and hollow bricks (tabuli) placed inside the walls.

The Capital of Little Asia, Ephesus

Ephesus was one of the twelve cities of Ionia with a distance of 3 km from Selçuk County in classical Greek period. Its establishment dates back to 6000 BC in Neolithic Age. In researches and excavations, several settlements of Bronze ages and Hittites were detected on Ayasuluk Hill around Ephesus where hill towns and a fortress exist. The name of the city was Apasas in Hittites Period. Ephesus, the port in which the immigrants from Greece lived as well in 1050 BC moved to region of Artemis Temple in 560 BC. On the other hand, today’s Ephesus was established in 300 BC by one of the generals of Alexander the Great. Ephesus living the most magnificent times in Hellenistic and Roman periods had a population of 200,000 people as the capital and the biggest port of Asia state. The importance of Ephesus in ancient age does not only result from being a port, but also the greatest temple of Artemis culture which is based on the tradition of Anatolia’s old mother goddess (Kybele) is in Ephesus. Artemis Temple in Ephesus is accepted as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. One of the most important centers of the ancient world, Ephesus always played a key role in the fields of civilization, science, culture and art during its history from 4,000 BC.Since Ephesus changed location several times through its history, its ruins expanded a wide area. Within 8 km2 area of these ruins, the area where excavation – restoration and arrangement studies were conducted are open to visit. Worth-seeing Structures of Ephesus Ancient City: Magnesia Gate • East Gymnasium and Baths of State Agora • Upper Agora and Basilica • Odeon • Prytaneion (Town Hall) • Temple of Domitian • Fountain of Pollio • Memmius Monument • Heracles Gate • Curetes Street • Scholastica Baths • Fountain of Trajan • Hillside Houses • Baths of Varius • Hadrian Temple • Public Toilet (Latrina) • Love House • Stoa of Alytarches • The Octagon • Heroon • Marble Street • Celcus Library • Mazeus • Gate of Mythridates • Tetragonos Agora • Marble Street • Great Theatre • Harbor Street (Arcadiane) • Theatre Gymnasium • Harbor Gymnasium and Baths • Church of Virgin Mary • The Double Churches (Council Church) • Palace Structure • Stadium Street • Temple of Artemis - Vedius Gymnasium • Seven Sleepers • St. Jean Church • İsa Bey Mosque

Selçuk Aqueducts

In the excavations in Ephesus, fountains of several periods and raceways which brought water to houses were found out. The need for water was met with wells and cisterns at the beginning due to the farness of the water resources. In the following periods, the water resources in Değirmendere (Kençherios) in south of Kuşadası, and Keltepe were used. The water was brought from such resources that were 42.5 km from Ephesus through the raceways. These raceways went around Bülbül Mountain. Additionally, the water named "Klaseas" on İzmir road was brought to the city by means of the channels carved in the rocks of 10 km length and terraces made of stone walls. For this reason, arches were needed from place to place. Thus, the water could reach Ayasuluk Hill. Nowadays, aqueducts built in Byzantine period exist in Selçuk County. These aqueducts come from east and go until Ayasuluk Hill. The aqueducts which were made of pretty high face stones and bricks and connected to each other with round arches came partly in good condition until today.

Saadet Hatun Hammam

There are 7 old Turkish baths known in Selçuk County. One of them is named as Saadet Hatun Bath according to epitaph. The answer of "Who was Saadet Hatun" is not known certainly, but it is thought that she was a prominent person of Aydınoğulları Principality. The bath dating back to 16th century has many characteristics of Turkish baths. It consists of three sections as cold, warm and hot. The bath, the caravanserai used as the conference hall of Ephesus Museum, and Small Mosque of Ayasuluk constituted a social complex.

İsa Bey Hammam

Located on the side of the hill where Ayasuluk Fortress and St. John Church exist in Selçuk County of İzmir province, this bath was built together with İsa Bey Mosque. Since its epitaph could not come until today, its construction date did not become definite, but it is supposed on the basis of the mosque’s construction epitaph that it was built in 1375 by Aydınoğlu İsa Bey. The bath was made of face stones and bricks and reflects the characteristics of classical Turkish baths. It consisted of cold, warm and hot sections. All of these sections were covered with pendentive domes and a frieze with stalactite surrounds the frames of the domes. The bath is in good condition today.


Ions who resided at Greece after Dors migrated down from central Europe as a result of the Aegean migrations at the end of 2000 BC came to Anatolia and settled in the area from Gulf of İzmir to Gulf of Mandalya. They gave Ionia as the name of this region. This event named as Ion Colonization spread in time and Smyrna (Former İzmir) and Phokaia (Former Foça) were turned into Ion city states separately after they were taken from Aiols. Ruins of Klazomenai ancient city exist in İskele quarter of Urla. The excavations still continue now. Some parts of them belong to Quarantina Island. An important ruin discovered belongs to an olive oil plant. Archeological findings show that the settlement in Klazonmenai continued until the beginning of the 5th century AC. In the light of several archeological evidences, Klazonmenai which was mentioned in the Episcopacy list in Byzantine period exists in a location currently named Gülbahçe within the former city land. Mainland was emptied in Hellenistic-Roman period and the settlement in Quarantina Island gained importance. Walls of the villas of Hellenistic-Roman period and their bases inside the sea can be observed in the modern beach on the east shore of Quarantina Island. There is a temple at the top of the hill in the north of the island. The figurines of sitting women made in the Archaic Period were copied and their Hellenistic period copies were obtained from a ruin in north of this temple’s terrace. Various archeological works found in Quarantina Island demonstrated that the settlement continued until 5th century AC.


Teos was established by Myniaies. Ions and Athenians were added in the society later. Teos prospering in time kept this wealth until Persian invasion. Before Persian invasion, the philosopher from Miletus, Thales had thrown an idea into the pot. The idea offering that all Ion cities would join forces and settle in Teos which was in the middle of the region was not accepted and Ions took a step to slavery. On the other hand, Bias from Priene had promoted an idea of leaving their country instead of being slave and establishing a strong colony in Sicily. Some of the Ions escaping from the war went to Egypt. Egypt King, Amasis welcomed them in a nice manner and showed Naucratis city for their settlement. Ions did not settle there, but built a magnificent temple for worshipping. The name of Hellenion was given to that temple which was built by a group including Teos community as well and commercial relationships with Naucratis were improved. Teos obtaining its former wealth again in the 4th century BC could pay tax of 6 talents to Delos Union. As in all Ionia, important philosophers and poets lived in also Teos. The lyrical poet, Anacreon who lived in the 6th century BC and Apellicon who bought Aristoteles library in 100 BC were Teos citizens. Abdera city established by the colonist from Teos was the country of Protagoras and Democritus both of who were the important philosophers of 5th century BC.


The first thing coming to mind when "Miletus" is mentioned is the big city which became prominent with the governors of Aegean Sea, being the birth place of and science and philosophy, and its navigation in Archaic Period. The ruins attracting the attention belong to Roman Period. Definitely, Miletus was a big city in Roman Period as well, but it does not content the visitors, for instance as the same as Ephesus does. This feeling increases with the effect of the natural environment which alters wholly because of the alluvion carried by Maiandros River. Herodotus ascribed "striving river" to the ones like Maiandros. Indeed, Menderes causes the shore to move by 6-10 m. averagely in a year since before now. Located on a headland on the shore of a big gulf in Classical Period, Miletus stayed inside the land from the sea by 8 km now. Lade Island which acquired a bad reputation seems like a barren hill rising in the middle of the plain today. Gulf of Latmos turned into Bafa Lake. When you stand on the hill above the theatre, you should stretch your imagination thoroughly to understand how Miletus seemed once upon a time. Miletus has the precedence of being the unique city among the cities of Ionia as Homeros mentioned. From the standpoint of the poet, Miletus is "the country of Carians who spoke a profane language" and fought against Greek in Troia. Fortifications of Miletus evidenced the insecure environment of West Anatolia during that period. It is mentioned that one of the sons of Codros, Neilus governed the following Ion colonists. When the colonists arrived there, they met with the native Carians and a Cretan community who migrated from a town having the same name in Cretan. As told by Herodotus, Ions who never brought women along killed the men of the city and married their widowed wives. Upon this incident, the women vowed not to sit down to meal with their husbands and not to call their husbands’ names. Crowning achievements in the field of thought accompanied the prosperity in the material field. First of all, the name of Thales should be mentioned. It was stated above that he characterized the water as the parent material in universe and he calculated the eclipse of the sun previously in 585 BC. It is also told that Thales changed Halys River bad to enable Croesus armies to pass. We learnt that Thales is the first person who achieved drawing a right triangle inside a circle. He sacrificed a cattle to celebrate this, namely he feasted well. Another achievement of the philosopher is calculating the height of the Egyptian pyramids. He did this by measuring the shadows of the pyramids when a human’s shadow equaled his real height. The most recognized phrase of Thales gives the message "Know yourself" and was scraped onto Temple of Apollo in Delphoi. In another phrase of Thales which perhaps seems contrarian for the human of our age, he stated that he was grateful to gods for three blessings: he was born a human being and not one of the brutes; he was born a man and not a woman; he was born a Greek and not a barbarian. The last excavations lightened the earliest settlement in Miletus partly, in other words the settlement of pre-Greek period. It was understood that this settlement was located on the plain in southwest of the common ruin and dated back to around 1600 BC, namely Minos and Myken Period. The power of Minos disappeared in the 14th century BC and the settlement in Miletus was surrounded by a massive wall with a thickness exceeding 4.27 m. As understood from the clear fire marks detected in the excavations, the life in Miletus continued during pre-Greek period until it was destroyed by Persians in 494 BC. However, whether Miletus is the city where Thales and Hekataios lived or not is not known for now, because any extensive clarification was not attempted. Kalabak Hill was excavated between 1904 and 1908 and in addition to tough walls with 3.66 m thickness and doors, the ruins of houses’ various bases and a small temple were brought to light.


Priene is the most attractive ancient settlement for many travelers on the west shores of Anatolia. Here, you cannot see the massive Roman structures drawing your attention in many ruins. The visitor feels that he turns back to the period of Alexander while pacing along the public structures, streets and houses. The ruin situated just beside Turunçlar Village now is not the site of first establishment. The old city about which no trace is found is covered with the mud of Maiandros undoubtedly. Strabon states that Priene was located on a shore at the beginning, but then it remained inside the land by 40 stads, namely 6.5 km. If this is correct, the shore should move further faster at that time compared to today. It is understood that Alexander the Great had the public move from the nearby Naulochos harbor for building the new city. The young king repeated his suggestion which he offered for Artemision in Ephesus, for the Temple of Athena: He would bear the cost of the structure and the right of dedication would be given to him in return. The community of Priene was not haughty or rich or had independent soul just like the community of Ephesus and they accepted his suggestion. The first excavations in Priene found out the dedication inscription of Alexander. The inscription which exists in British Museum in London today was placed on a wall of the temple, not on an architrave on the columns, because the architrave had not been reached, yet when the structure was dedicated. When Priene was under the rule of the Kingdom of Pergamon in the 2nd century BC, it experienced a disaster which it never deserved. Cappadocia King, Ariarathes had been expelled from the throne by his brother, Orophernes. Orophernes hid 400 talents in his hand in Priene during his kingdom period. Upon the approval of Attalos II, Ariarathes attacked Priene. The community of the city resorted to Rome. They had high hopes for keeping the money in their hands. When he was obliged to return 400 talents to Orophernes, their hopes were dashed to the ground. Furthermore, they suffered a lot because of their dependence to him. In 1868 and 1869, English excavators observed that walls of the temple with a height of a human were protected. However the remaining part after the peasants took stones in the next years consists of only the bases.


Aphrodisias was a prosperous ancient city recognized with especially Aphrodithe worship in Roman period and nowadays, it is one of the most important archeological locations of Turkey due to its very well-protected monumental structures. Aphrodisias is a Prehistorical settlement dating back to 5000 BC. It developed in the period of Roman Empire, became a significant art center, particularly in sculpture between the 1st century BC and the 5th century AC and became famous with the Temple of Aphrodite and the ceremonies made for her. The goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite inspired the name of the city. "Aphrodisias" name was used since the 2nd BC. The city was mentioned with the other names before. The names used are Lelegonpolis, Megapolis, Ninoi, Aphrodisias, Kayra and Geyre. Tetrapylon Located in the east of the temple and on the north-south street, this monumental gate dates back to the 2nd century AC. Regarding the structure built with the Corinthian order "tetra" and "pylon" (Hellenic) means "four" and "gate" in English, respectively. It took that name because of comprising four columns on four sides. In general terms, this structure is a monument built by the architectures and sculptures for only vanity. We see that very rich architectural styles were used in the structure. The most important structure of Aphrodisias city is definitely the temple of Aphrodithe. After the cities were demolished by Meds and Babels, Assyrians coming from Ninova brought the culture of Assyrian love and beauty goddess, Ishtar with them. The images of the Assyrian king and his wife, Ninos and Semiramis on a relief which was discovered during the excavations in Aphrodisias verify this thesis as well. This Mesopotamia culture is the foundation of Aphrodithe culture. The temple of Aphrodithe which has still four columns dispreading through the stupendous blue sky next to the sculpture school was the heartland of the city. The temple which was started to be built in the 1st century BC by Zoilos was finished completely in 130 AC. The structure took its final shape when sacred walls surrounding the structure were added in the period of Emperor Hadrian…


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