The site of Aphrodisias in south-central Anatolia (Asian Turkey) was a major cult center of the regional version of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and fertility. Around the 3rd century BCE, Aphrodite was merged with the local Great Mother goddess of fertility, worshipped here in the lush Dandalas River Valley for more than 5,000 years before the Greek pantheon settled in.
Visit Aphrodisias when traveling between Pamukkale and Ephesus or any point along the Aegean coast. The modern town is Geyre. It’s about 50 miles west of Pamukkale and roughly 100 miles from the coast. Click here and here to see tours that include visits to Aphrodisias.
The city was favored by Caesar Augustus in the 1st century BCE and thrived for several centuries thereafter. Aphrodisias became the capital of the Roman province of Caria in the 4th century. This was a bustling, cosmopolitan city and the remains are some of the best in Turkey. The tetrapylon (monumental gate) is the most photographed element, for good reason, but an extensive site unfolds from there. Don’t miss the exquisite little theater (odeon), the large stadium and, of course, the Temple of Aphrodite.
The famous Aphrodisian marble, from a quarry just down the road, inspired a prolific local arts scene and was exported across the Roman Empire. The excellent on-site museum is chockablock with marble sculpture, reliefs and inscriptions.