Turkey: Aphrodisias

Aphrodisias is an ancient Hellenistic city located somewhat in the middle of nowhere in Turkey – equidistant between Pamukkale and the Aegean coast, surrounded my mountains and forests. This UNESCO World Heritage site is absolutely stunning and perhaps has the most spectacular sculptural and statue ruins in Turkey. The city was named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and thrived from about 3rd century BC through Hellenistic and Roman periods and well into the early Byzantine times, until the city was destroyed in an earthquake around the 7th century AD. Extensive rock quarries around Aphrodisias provided quality white and blue grey marble that went into construction of almost everything in Aphrodisias. There are hundreds of head carvings covering walls, sculptures, temples, and countless sarcophagi and tombs – all well preserved and stunningly elaborate. In fact, marble sculptures from Aphrodisias became all the rage around the vast Roman Empire and were found thousands of miles away, especially the depictions of the Aphrodite of Aphrodisias. There is so much to see here – the Temple of Aphrodite, huge theater, multistory Tetrapylon with its monumental gateway, the Odeon, equally impressive Sebasteion, stadium, and much more – all surrounded with pomegranate groves. The walls covered with carved faces and masks, many of them of Medusa, are absolutely impressive, unlike anywhere else in the world. And they still keep finding stuff here – just this year, 2020, two sarcophagi with Medusa heads on them were unearthed.