The ruins of Aphrodisias are not exactly easy to reach, but they are well worth the trouble if you are interested in archeology.We visited it as a one-day trip from Izmir in a private car, and it was a long day. The road was excellent (freeway) until Aydin after which it became a progressively narrower and more crowded divided highway. Also, don't go on a Monday because the excellent museum is closed then (more about the museum later).
Aphrodisias can easily be combined with a visit to the nearby Pamukkale, which is on standard tourist itineraries.
Reviewers compare and contrast this sight with the much-better known Ephesus. Ephesus is certainly much easier to reach, especially for the cattle operations launched from cruiseships. In summer the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds combine with the extreme heat to make a visit to Ephesus a torment. The ruins there are more grand, but the associated museum in Selcuk is tiny. In contrast, you might have Aphrodisias to yourself. And the museum is large, informative and chock-full of statuary. No wonder since the city was famous for its sculptors in antiquity and you can find Aphrodisias-made works of art all over the Roman world. They liked to display their skill by carving expressive faces all over the city.
On the site itself, the entrance to the precinct of the famous temple of Aphrodite has been reconstructed (the so-called "tetrapylon") and gives an idea of how impressive the temple must have been (not much is left of it). The stadion is one of the largest reamining from the Roman world.
The museum beautifully complements what you see on the site, especially the so-called Sebasteion. This was a gallery of three floors, the upper two of which were decorated with reliefs showing scenes from mythology and members of the then-reigning Roman Imperial family, the Claudians. It was a thrill to encounter most of the characters one met in "I, Claudius", including Nero and his mother..which helped in the dating because historians know when he poisoned her. The museum has installed 107 of these reliefs the way they appeared in antiquity. I have not seen anything like this anywhere else.
This dedicated gallery is named after Sevgi Gonul, the Turkish philanthropist who sponsored it.
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