14 May - 20 May 2010
ANATOLIA, a vast geographical region covering most of today's Republic of Turkey, gets its name from an old Greek word referring to Sunrise and was designated the status of Asia Minor. A region rich in history ; where three important religions were nurtured ; a fertile ecozone serially inhabited by great civilizations like the Hittites,Phrygians,Achemenids, Greek, Armenian, Roman, Seljuks and Ottomans who have all left their mark in the development of world civilization as a whole.
In today's political map, Anatolia lies partly in Europe and partly in Asia and is surrounded on three sides by the ancient waters of the Aegean, the Mediterranean and The Black Sea.
Many ruins of historical value lie scattered around, relating the hoary legends and myths of heroes who populated the story books of childhood days.
For a history nut like me, a trip around Anatolia was a rich feast.
Camp Antalya : (Hotel Cender: Excellent ocean view, decent rates, average amenities.)
ANTALYA, a very pretty city situated on the Mediterranean coast,in South West Anatolia, bustling with colourful open markets, cool boulevards , antique houses and apricot orchards, plays host to swarms of tourists who number more than the native population of around seven lakhs. From here, we took tours to the PERGE ANTIQUE SITE where the whole ancient capital of Pamphylia,( Founded in 1500 BC, by Hittites), named Perga in Greek, complete with City Gates, Nympheum, Roman Bath, Colonnaded Main Street , Aqueducts, the Agora and the Stadium has been excavated. The remains are preserved as an open air museum. Work is still on.The more important free standing sculptures, though, have migrated to museums in the western world, thanks to the early imperial archeologists ! The city must have been full of Stoa ( Colonnaded, covered avenues) Hundreds of coloumns can be seen, standing, fallen, broken , buried or restored. By a unique sponsorship scheme, anyone who donates money for the ongoing excavation work will have her name engraved under one of the coloumns she helped raise up . Good chance to become immortal !
We got very detailed history lessons from our enthusiastic guide, an archeology graduate. He taught us to differentiate architectural styles, to surmise the age of structures and to identify Greek and Roman gods by their attributes. His inspired commentary made the awesome coloumns and arches spring to life , and, as the cool (19*C) gusts of strong breeze whistled around the ancient lanes, I sat for a while on a marble pediment transported to 333BC when Alexander camped here.And imagined Apollonius, student of Archimedes,broadcasting his pathbreaking findings in Geometry in the Agora. And saw the slaves preparing the bath water by controlling the water flow from The Frigidarium ( Cold) and The Tepidarium (hot).
The stadium is in poor condition here, but in the neighbouring Pamphilian city of Aspendos, we saw the best preserved amphitheatre from antiquity.It is stupendous! 315 ft. in diameter, seating capacity 7000. There are 58 post holes to hold masts for an awning ( Velarium) over the spectators. Accoustics are perfect. This stadium, built in 155 AD.during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, continued to be used as a caravanserai and then, till recently, as a concert hall and sports stadium. Only after some damage was noticed, the stadium was retired from active use and made a museum piece . Since 1994, only two events are held here : The Turkish National and The International Ballet and Opera Concerts.
Aspendos was one of the first cities to mint coins : Staters and drachmas. Souvenir shops sell fake coins stamped out of recycled coca-cola caps.
SIDE ( pronounced Si-day), another Pamphilian city, close to Aspendos but its traditional rival,once held by Alexander and later by Ptolemy I, was an extremely prosperous community on the coast,which had near monopoly on slave trade in the region. Being autonomous, it became a cultural capital with a theatre and acropolis to rival the best of antiquity, but which are a pile of rubble today. The City walls, the agora, the cobbled lanes are relatively in good shape, though the pride of the place, The Apollonium is only a square plinth with five colossal marble pillars standing by the sea. Side is still alive because the modern town has grown within and around the ruins. You can squat on a 2000 year old carved marble lintel and enjoy a cone of Dondurma ( Turkish icecream) by the wharf, as a Shakira number wafts from a Coffee shop
If you kick the grey dust underfoot, you can turn up shards of Hellenistic amphorae, but it is forbidden to take away any such souvenirs. I held a piece of history in my hand for 10 minutes and then tossed it into the sea.