Roman Theatre at Aspendos

The archaeological site with the Roman Theatre of Aspendos is located in the Pamphylian plain at 47 km east of Antalya and 37 km west of Side, near the village of Belkis.


In ancient times Aspendos was a river port city that, according to legend, was founded by colonists from Argos in Greece when they returned from the Trojan War. More probably its roots were Phoenician or Hittite. Like many other cities in the fertile plain of Pamphylia, Aspendos fell under the sovereignty of the Lydians and Persians. The city first came to prominence in 479 BEC when the Persian navy was destroyed by the Greeks, under the command of Cimon, in a bloody naval battle at the mouth of the nearby Eurymedon River (present Köprüçay meaning Bridge River). Afterwards, the fighting continued on land. Once again, though significantly outnumbered, the Greeks defeated the Persians. After passing into and out of Greek and Persian hands, Aspendos submitted to Alexander the Great ca. 333 BCE.

After Alexander's death, Aspendos became part of the Seleucid Empire. Later, the city became part of the kingdom of Pergamon (Bergama) and finally, it came under Roman rule. Aspendos had its most prosperous period in the 2nd and 3rd century CE. From ancient sources we learn that silver and gold embroidered tapestries, ornaments, and furniture made from lemon tree wood, wine and horses were exported. During the first and second centuries CE, significant building activities took place.

Presently, Aspendos is famous for its impressive Roman theatre, the best preserved in Asia Minor. The theatre was constructed in the 2nd century CE by the local Greek architect Zeno during the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 CE). The theatre could accommodate 10,000 - 12,000 spectators and it was maintained by the Byzantines and Seljuks.

After Atatürk visited Aspendos, he commanded the restoration of the theatre. Presently, it is the stage of the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival from mid-June to early July.

Sights & Photos of Aspendos

After visiting the theatre, there is also the acropolis with a nymphaeum and basilica. These can be reached by a path leading upwards, next to the theatre.

Most of the site is in ruins and of the massive nymphaeum remains only the front wall, measuring 32.5 m in width and 15 m in height.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Travel Information & Travel Tips

Aspendos can be visited together with Perge (27 km) and the Kurşunlu Waterfalls as a half-day excursion from Antalya, Side, or Alanya.

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