Journey to Antiquity

A journey to Sagalassos had always been a passion for me, but it seemed unreachable at my age (70+) because I thought, “Oh no! How could I climb there” the city having been built in the mountains at a height of 1800-2000 meters.

But I did it. With the encouragement of Semih Bey and the help of Ayşe and Bilgi Bey, I was able to climb the steps (more than one hundred) to get to the gorgeous Antonine Fountain.  I did not dare climb further to the library and even further to the theatre.  And I could not help thinking how on earth did the residents visit the library or go to the theatre in the evening to see a play by Euripides, Aristophanes, Aeschylus or Sophocles.

We travelled from sea level through spectacular scenery including forests, valleys, hills and mountains, all adding a further dimension to this cultural tour.

Thanks to H3A’s management and particularly to our guide Semih Adiyaman, we made a wonderful journey to antiquity seeing not only Sagalassos but also Kibyra and Laodiceia, and the Museum of Archaeology in Burdur.  Exhibits here included the huge statues excavated at Sagalassos, the finds from Kibyra and a digital simulation of the city.

Sagalassos, call it the City in the Clouds, the City of Dreams or the Holy Site of Archaeology, is known for its Antonine Fountain, Neon Library and theatre all built high in the mountains;  Kibyra, the City of the Gladiators, situated at the cross-roads of several civilisations, with its wonderful relics of antiquity; and Laodicea, the city with its seven churches (one of them cited in the Bible), its two theatres, the largest antique stadium of Anatolia, its monumental gates and well-designed roads and its rich textile culture reflected in the present day textile trade of Denizli.  These three cities were the reflection of the rich antique cultures and civilisations which flourished in Anatolia.  It is not my intention, I am not capable, to describe these three cities in detail.  We can find that at the relevant internet sites. I just wanted to share with you this wonderful experience.

The three-day tour was well-organised, well-planned and most exciting. The bus was comfortable, the driver diligent, the company good.  Semih Bey, proved to be a knowledgeable and humorous guide, as well as kind and patient with us all throughout the journey. It was evident that he had done a great deal of research and reconnaissance prior to the trip.

We also owe much to Camille Şahin who facilitated the daily routine, acting as financial officer and taking care of the health of the group.

I am lucky and happy that I was able to join this Journey to Antiquity. Thanks once again to H3A, to Semih Bey and Camille Hanım and to my fellow travellers.

Sönmez Taner

Sagalassos:

The Holy City/Site/ of Archaeology as called by Semih Bey, 2014;

The City in the Clouds as defined by Paul Lucas, 1706;

The City of Water, title of a book by Marc Waelhens and Ahmet Ertuğ;

The City of Dreams, title of an exhibition held in Belgium.

Photos by Ayşe İdil

Photos by Ayşe İdil