A dramatic glimpse of a bygone age
The Aspendos Amphitheatre is located just a few kms to the east of Antalya and just North of Belek, it is very easy to get to from any of the hotels in the area. Famous for being possibly the best preserved ancient amphitheatre to be found anywhere in the world, I promise you this place is well worth a visit.
On arrival you can easily be misled by the appearance of the man in Gladiatorial costume standing outside waiting to greet visitors, sword in hand and with a snarling look designed to petrify all onlookers but really intended to encourage you to have your photograph taken at his side. In fact gladiatorial fights wasn’t the original intention when Aspendos was built.
Believed to have been constructed in the 2nd century AD during the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, this remarkable building can’t help but impress all who take the time to go and look at it and I know this may sound a little strange but this is a building that makes your senses come alive, especially the sense of hearing.
The acoustics are just amazing, which helps explain the origin of the building and why concerts and various staged performances are still held there every year, including ballet, theatre and orchestral recitals. With a seating capacity of over 15,000 people, Aspendos captures a sense of drama and atmosphere seldom found in outdoor theatres, the sound of conversation when no one else is in site, the echo of footsteps carried by the wind along the terraced seating just captures your imagination and yes the thought of Russell Crowe swinging his sword does come to mind.
I could go into great detail about the history of Aspendos but to be honest I suggest you hear it first hand from one of the excellent guides that show you round, their knowledge is far greater than my memory. If history is one of your interests, then to hear about the Trojan War and invasions by the Hittites, Romans and Persians and the arrival of Alexandra the Great will leave you wanting to know more.
There are some wonderful legends about the King of Aspendos and a challenge offering his daughters hand in marriage to the man providing the greatest service to the city, the final two contenders had provided an Aqueduct giving the city a constant water supply and the other designed and built the Amphitheatre, needless to say the decision was made after the King visited and witnessed first hand the drama of the theatre and a little bit of acoustic trickery. Parts of the aforementioned Aqueduct can still be seen towering above the landscape nearby.