Side Resort offers its guests a unique opportunity to combine a beach holiday with a visit to ancient antiquities.
What to do in Side
Connoisseurs of ancient architecture should definitely visit the ancient theater. Built in the 2nd century AD. e., it accommodated 20 thousand spectators — an unheard of scale for those times. The Agora was the epicenter of life. And the ruins of the old square give an idea of the lifestyle and cultural development of the townspeople.
The cities of Seleucia and Selga, which have sunk into oblivion, will definitely appeal to lovers of riddles. Their ruins against the backdrop of Mediterranean greenery impress with grandeur.
The temples of Side invite you to make a journey based on ancient Greek legends. The sanctuary of Apollo and the temple of Artemis were destroyed by an earthquake. However, even their restored fragments amaze with their monumentality. The Tyukhe temple had an unusual exterior and was decorated with zodiac signs.
The beaches are another attraction of Side. They are equally attractive for lovers of noisy and secluded recreation.
The amphitheater was built around the 2nd century AD. e., and at that time it was the largest in Asia Minor. The construction consists of 22 visual rows supported by vaulted arches, below — a round orchestra. It hosted gladiator fights and performances. And in order to recreate the picture of sea battles, the stage was flooded with water.
The artists performed against the backdrop of a 3‑meter skene (analogous to a modern curtain). Behind it were the “dressing rooms” and props. There was also a basement where wild animals were kept behind a one and a half meter wall. The stage and vaults of the amphitheater were decorated with elegant bas-reliefs. Alas, they are now lost.
The Market Square or Agora was the center of cultural, political and commercial life in Side. Scientists believe that there were two Agoras in the ancient city — tourists are recommended to visit the one that is located next to the amphitheater. It was possible to get to it through the gates of Propilion — now they are located opposite the modern city museum.
On all sides, the Agora was surrounded by columns and statues on pedestals. One of them has survived well to this day — this is Nemesis, the goddess of retribution. On the east side lie the ruins of a two-story building. It must have been a library. If you go a little further, you can see the remains of the episcopal palace and the baptistery in the Byzantine style.
The bridge was built in the XIII century by the Seljuk Turks on the site of an ancient Roman structure, which eventually fell into disrepair. Its length is about 220 m, the width varies from 4.5 m to 5.7 m. From afar, the bridge seems to be humpbacked, deformed — the thing is that the supports have shifted due to the moving ground. However, the design remained stable and stable.
The monumental structure was erected in honor of the emperor Vespasian and his son, presumably in the 2nd century AD. e. The height of the fountain reached 5 m, and the width was about 35 m. The marble bowl was framed by columns and statues (some of them can be seen in the museum), and frescoes decorated one of the walls. Water was supplied from an aqueduct. Of the three tiers of the fountain, only two have survived, but this is enough to appreciate the grandeur of the structure.
The once massive walls reliably protected the inhabitants of the city from enemy attacks. The surviving fragments of the fortifications are located on the land side. Those that stood on the shore of the bay did not survive to this day — they were swallowed up by sand.
Fortifications began to be built in the 2nd century BC. e. They were destroyed, remade and reconstructed for 7 centuries.
Most impressive is the 3‑storey building of the 4th century. Its walls protrude one above the other. This was done so that during the battle the soldiers located at different levels did not interfere with each other. On the middle floor there were barracks, and movement between levels was carried out by wooden stairs.
The ancient Roman aqueduct is located in the northwest of Side. Laid across the mountainous terrain, it supplied water from the Melos River (now Manavgat) through a complex system of pipes to each house and fed the Nymphaeum fountain. The engineering design was very complex for ancient times. The length of the aqueduct is about 30 km. It consisted of 22 bridges and 16 tunnels with a length of 2,260 m.
The aqueduct was built in the II century BC. e., but after 100 years it was reconstructed. The main reason is the unreliable rock used during construction.
The most interesting fragments of the aqueduct are exhibited in the local museum.
The majestic gate is located in the northern part of the resort. They are a kind of border between the modern and historical part of Side. They were built by order of the emperor Vespasian. The grandiose building reached a length of 6 m. Unfortunately, time did not spare the structure, but even the remaining ruins look monumental.
Ancient settlements and temples
In the center of the Agora is a small temple that glorifies Tyche, the ancient Greek goddess of fortune. The round structure was crowned with a pyramid-shaped roof, and on each of its 12 sides was a sign of the zodiac. The image of the sanctuary is minted on the coins that circulated in the ancient policy. This fact testifies to the great significance of the temple.
Temple of Apollo
At the southern tip of the Side peninsula in the II century BC. e. built the temple of Apollo from white marble. They say that it was in it that the fateful meeting of Cleopatra and Mark Antony took place. Nearby stood the sanctuary of Artemis. Both structures were destroyed by an earthquake in the 10th century.
The ruins of the temple of Apollo look the most attractive. The rectangular base measuring 30x17 m was framed by 66 Corinthian columns about 9 m high. After a natural disaster, only 5 of them remained. The pediment was decorated with a bas-relief depicting the Gorgon Medusa. Now, in the rays of night illumination, the ancient ruins look especially dramatic.
In the suburbs of Side, a couple of kilometers from the village of Seiler, lie the monumental ruins of the ancient city of Seleucia. During the excavations carried out here in the mid-1970s, the remains of thermae, the ruins of the Agora, the Byzantine temple and the odeon, decorated with a magnificent mosaic depicting Orpheus, were discovered.
The architectural features of the found buildings led a number of scientists to the conclusion that this was not Seleucia, but the lost city of Lirbe, which was part of the Roman province of Pamphylia. The ruins of the ancient settlement are overgrown with dense Mediterranean vegetation, which adds to the mystery of this place.
In the Taurus Mountains, a real pearl is hidden — the city of Selge. According to legend, it was founded by the seer Calchas, who lost his sight in the battles of the Trojan War. For several centuries the city remained independent and at the same time prospered economically thanks to good relations with Pamphlia. Later, it became part of the Roman Empire, and during the Byzantine rule, it fell into final decline.
You should definitely see what is left of the local amphitheater for 10 thousand spectators, the ruins of the temples of Zeus and Artemis, and also walk along the stones of the ruined Agora.
The beautiful Manavgat waterfall is located about 3 km from Side — next to the settlement of the same name. The attraction is of artificial origin: after the creation of the Oymapinar dam, a reservoir appeared on the river. The river changed its course, and a height difference formed, which is necessary for the operation of the hydraulic structure. This is how the Manavgat waterfall appeared.
Its height does not exceed 2 m, but its width reaches 40 m. The spectacle of falling water is impressive. About 1 million people come to see this natural pearl every year. Near the observation deck there are souvenir shops and shops. There is a restaurant where, in addition to Turkish cuisine, they also offer to enjoy beautiful views.
During the flood period, Manavgat is completely hidden in the river of the same name.
About 7 km from Aspendos, the mountain river Kopruchay runs. Its banks are connected by a long humpbacked bridge, built in the ancient Roman era. A little further, the water artery narrows — this is where the Koprulu Canyon National Natural Park begins. This is the best place in the region for rafting.
Those who are indifferent to active sports can go hiking. The canyon offers several routes of varying length and difficulty. All of them pass through picturesque places, so they will leave vivid memories and beautiful photos.
In the suburbs of Cevizli, there is the deepest network of caves in Turkey. Some stone bags go as deep as 350 m. Many caves are connected by tunnels and underground rivers. One of them comes to the surface in the form of a crystal clear and cold spring in the Pamukluk area. Inspection of the caves is recommended only with a guide.
This natural attraction is called the azure kingdom. The canyon is located about 25 km from Side on the territory of the national reserve. Most often, tourists view the enchanting landscape from the boat. Sheer cliffs covered with emerald vegetation open up to the eye. The white color of the rock enhances the color of the water — that’s why it seems sky blue.
Cafes and restaurants located nearby invite you to satisfy your hunger after a walk in the fresh air. The signature dish is trout cooked in every possible way. The catch is obtained from the surrounding waters (so, at least, the owners of the establishments say).
The Oymapinar dam was erected in 1984 on the Manavgat River. This is the second largest hydraulic structure in Turkey. The height of the dam is 185 m, the width is about 360 m. The area of the reservoir formed nearby is about 5 square meters. km, and the maximum depth reaches 110 m.
The dam is located near Side, and the proximity to the resort makes it attractive to tourists. They combine a trip to Oimapinar with a visit to the Manavgat waterfall.
Entertainment and beaches
The museum occupies a building of the 5th century, which once housed the city bath. The exhibition is small, but the exhibits stored in it are of great value:
- The first hall displays the oldest artifacts dating back to the Hellenistic period. These are coins, ceramics and a rare set of medical instruments.
- In the second hall there are fragments of ancient statues with broken heads and limbs. Acts of vandalism are on the conscience of the early Christians.
- An old copy of the famous Three Graces statue, as well as sculptures of Hercules and the goddess Nike, adorn the third hall.
- In the fourth, there are children’s sarcophagi with touching drawings and inscriptions.
- Jewelry and weapons are exhibited in the fifth hall.
In the courtyard leading to the sea, you can find countless fragments of columns, capitals and bas-reliefs, transferred to the museum for safekeeping.
This is the most popular and longest beach in Side, which, in addition, borders the promenade, where you can find entertainment for every taste. Tourists are waiting for restaurants, clubs, bars and souvenir shops. The coastline starts on the right — just behind the cape with the temple of Apollo.
The beach is covered with soft fine sand, the entrance to the water is comfortable. The depth is small, which is a minus for active bathers, and a plus for couples with children. Sun loungers, umbrellas and awnings — everything is there.
The length of this beach is about 1.5 km. It starts on the left side of the cape with the temple of Apollo and ends at the restaurant. Compared to the West, there are fewer people here, which affects the infrastructure. The choice of cafes and restaurants is small, there are no shops.
The coastline is sandy and rocky areas, the entrance to the water is not always comfortable. However, there are also sunbeds, umbrellas, changing cabins and toilets here.
The first thing that tourists see when crossing the central gates of the city is a long street framed by rows of dilapidated columns on both sides. The original overpass with a length of about 250 m passes through the historical part of Side, goes around the Agora, then crosses the village of Selimiye and ends at the sea, resting on the Temple of the Moon.
Walking along the pavement, decorated with mosaics, leaves a strong impression. A huge number of restaurants, shops and souvenir shops settled on the columned avenue. Here you can buy various goods at reasonable prices. Trading is required.