Termessos / June 16 - 2003 ----Click Here for Printer Freindly Version

Today I followed in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, but unlike him, I managed to conquer the city of Termessos.

I left for Perge early this morning only to find the theatre closed to the public (I was warned it might be). From what I could see, this was not a great disappointment since the theatre at Perge was not that dissimilar to Aspendos or Side, and I took good photos of these theatres yesterday. I went to my back-up plan to visit the theatre at Termessos which is about 30 kilometers on the other side of Antalya, but high in the mountains.

About 2337 years ago, Alexander the Great was passing through this region of Turkey and had the same idea. "Lets go to Termessos" he said to his army. "I hear there is a very nice theatre there and I would like to take some pictures." He sent an advance troupe to get the lay-of-the-land, and they reported back that the Termessians were living on the top of a mountain and did not like visitors.

Alexander was also told that there was only one twisty-twirlly road leading to the mountain stronghold and that the Termessians liked to drop rocks on visitors who came uninvited. He was also told that the twisty-twirlly road went mainly straight up and was only about two feet wide.

Alexander considered this information and said, " Let us proceed to Central Anatolia and visit the theatres there."

Well, to this day, the Termessians have claimed they defeated Alexander the Great in the year 333 BC.

I was luckier than Alex - I had a Fiat, a paved road, and the cranky Termessians were all dead. Well, I had a paved road for a while. The last kilometer or so was by foot and the kilometer was mostly straight up and much in the same condition as Alexander would have found it 2337 years ago - all twisty, full of rocks, overgrown with trees, but beautiful - tremendously beautiful - A wonderfully overgrown archeological site with the remnants of ancient buildings and monuments around every turn. Imagine a lost city, high in the Colorado Mountains, with cool breezes, the smell of pine forests, and spectacular views of the valley below. And if you search long enough, you will find the most spectacularly positioned and well preserved theatre I have come across in all my travels.

Major Note: You cannot visit Termessos if you have difficulty walking. The self-guided tour is at least a two-hour (4 hours recommended), strenuous walk - much of it uphill. There are no facilities - no kiosks with water and souvenir books. It is just you and the mountain and a lost city. The ruins have been decimated by countless earthquakes over the centuries and access to many of the sites (the theatre included) involves climbing over haphazard piles of toppled city walls. There is little to guide you - this is a non-restored, ruined city. Much of the beauty is in the pristine condition of the ruins.

I spent the morning and early afternoon at Termessos. What a wonderful way to end a spectacular tour of ancient theatres. Tomorrow I fly to Istanbul in the early afternoon and I check into a hotel close to the airport - I have a flight out on the 18th at 5:55 AM and I do not want to miss it.

It is time to come home.



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