Side Tourist Attractions
South coast (Eastern Mediterranean)Nearest town: Selimiye (pop. 4,000)Situation and ImportanceThe remains of the once important Hellenistic city of Side lie about half-way between Antalya and Alanya on a rocky peninsula in the Gulf of Antalya.
The peninsula reaches its highest point a little way inland at the bare limestone crag of Ak Dagi, while on either side of this point, lines of hotels overlook the broad and long sandy beaches of the gulf. In the heart of the ancient city, now much overgrown and covered by drifting sand, lies the charming little fishing village of Selimiye which has developed into a busy holiday resort. Many of the inhabitants are the descendants of Cretans who settled here about 1900. The little town amid the ruins has grown into one of the most important resorts on the Turkish Riviera and boasts numerous hotels and clubs as well as splendid beaches including the Sorgun Plaji.HistoryThere was already a settlement on the Side peninsula by 1000 B.C. In the seventh or sixth century B.C. Greek settlers from the city of Kyme on the west coast of Asia Minor established a colony here and built a harbor. After a period when it was a pirates' lair and a slave market Side developed in Roman times into an important and prosperous commercial center. As at Perge and other ancient coastal cities, coastal currents gradually caused the harbor to silt up. This, combined with the collapse of Roman rule led to the decay of the city and it was finally abandoned between the seventh and ninth centuries.
The archeological site of Side features serveral interesting items including an aqueduct, an agora, and a theater that once accomodated 15,000 people.
Akseki is situated about 80km/50mi beyond the junction of the eastward coast road and the road to Konya. Between Akseki and Aydinkent (Ibradi), near the village of Ürümlü and 500m/545yds on foot to the west of the Manavgat Çayi lies the Düdensuyu Magarasgi cave complex.There are a number of underground lakes here, one of which (100m/325ft long) can be crossed by a natural bridge. At the moment only the first of the lakes can be visited (with a guide). The caves can be reached more directly with a cross-country vehicle via a scenic route from Manavgat and Dikmen.
Seleukeia in Pamphylia
About 5km/3mi north of Naras Köprüsü above the village of Bucak Seyler, which can be reached from Side via the Manavgat Selalesi amid an area of pine forest, lie the fine remains of the Seleukid town of Seuleukeia in Pamphylia. Little is known of its history and its exact identity is still not certain despite the existing remains. Excavations in the 1970s unearthed a large baths complex, a well-preserved agora with store-rooms, colonnades and rows of shops, a Byzantine church, a heroon, an odeion and a mosaic of Orpheus.
Manavgat Waterfalls, Turkey
8km/5mi northeast of Side, a little way in from the coast, lies the town of Manavgat on the river of the same name (Melas in antiquity). It rises in the Seytan range (Seytan Daglari) of the Taurus. The beautiful Manavgat Falls (Selalesi) can be reached 5km/3mi upstream via an access road. The area is laid out as a garden and visitors can make their way on various paths and gangways to the immediate vicinity of the falls, the roar of which can be heard a long way away.
A mile or two northwest of the Manavgat waterfalls at the point where the track crosses the Naras Çayi, a Seljuk arched bridge over the Manavgat Çayi leads downstream. It was built on Roman foundations.
Düdencik Magarasi, the deepest cave network in Turkey (330m/1,082ft) can be found in the upper valley of the Manavgat Çayi close to the town of Cevizli (1,050m/3,444ft;). One underground river which dries up during the summer months emerges as a karst spring near Pamukluk Köprüsü close to the source of the Manavgat Çayi.
High up in the Taurus Mountains about 60km/37mi north of Aspendos lies the village of Altinkaya Köyü (Zerk; 1,050m/3,444ft) and the ruins of Selge. The road via Beskonak beyond Alabalik is very poor, but quite an experience. It is said that the town was founded by Kalchas, the blind prophet of the Trojan war, and the rest of his army from Troy. Until Roman times the remote location of the settlement served to protect the town's inhabitants from foreign rule. Yet trade flourished thanks to some good relations with the towns of Pamphylia and other regions of Asia Minor and the Pisidian town of Selge enjoyed great prosperity during Imperial Roman times. The extensive ruins contain many interesting remains, but the principal sights are the Roman theater with a Greek auditorium (10,000 seats) and the adjacent stadium. Some distance to the southwest on a mound lie the remains of a Temple of Zeus and a Temple of Artemis and just beyond a cistern-like round vessel for the town's water supply. About 500m/550yds to the east on another hillock stands the agora, at one time surrounded on three sides with rows of shops and from which a colonnaded street runs to the north. The remains of a triple-aisled basilica and a hall 120m/394ft long can be found nearby. The course of a town wall with a gate can be clearly discerned.
Near the fork off the road to Beskonak, 10km/7mi east of Aspendos, a long Seljuk hump-back bridge with Roman foundations crosses the Köprülü Irmak. 46km/29mi further north behind the village of Alabalik near Beskonak, the river narrows, marking the point where the mountainous and impressive Köprülü Kanyon (Bridge Gorge) National Park begins. Behind some small fish restaurants a track leads off to Selge (within the park) across a Roman bridge which spans the gorge. Remains of an ancient cobbled road can be found on the road from here to Selge.
Map of Side Attractions