Situation and ImportanceDidyma is linked with Miletus 20km/12mi to the north by the Sacred Way, parts of which are still traceable. According to an inscription on the last milestone, it was built in A.D. 101 in the reign of Trajan. Situated behind the resort of Didim Plaji (Altinkum Plaji) 4km/2.5mi from the Aegean coast, the ruined site of Didyma was once the greatest Greek oracular sanctuary in Asia Minor and its main features include the remains of a huge Temple of Apollo.
Temple of Apollo
The huge Temple of Apollo or Didymaion has been well-excavated and partially restored. It stood on a northeast/southwest axis and was originally surrounded by a sacred grove. At the northeast end lay a semi-circular partly-raised terrace dating from the Archaic period, on which stood a portico, other buildings and various votive offerings. Four 2.50m/8ft wide flights of steps led down to the cella of the temple.Outside the northeast end of the temple stands the main altar, similar to the one at Olympia in the Peloponnese. Within a low parapet was a conical structure built up from ashes mixed with the blood of sacrificial animals. To the north of the altar are bases for votive statues and a well dating from the Hellenistic period. Seven tiers of seating for spectators at the Didyma games run alongside the southeast side of the temple at a distance of 15m/50ft. The temple itself measured 108m/356ft long and 50m/165ft across. The unusual column bases dating from the time of Caligula (A.D. 37-41) are arranged in matching pairs. The corner columns on the east front had figural capitals from the A.D. second century each with two bulls' heads, a bust of a god and a griffin. Foliage ornaments and Medusa heads alternated on the frieze.
The Temple of Apollo in Didyma consisted of a forecourt, a small antechamber and the cella or main chamber. The 11m/36ft walls of the pronaos (forecourt) are still standing but the original fine coffered ceiling has been lost. The cella could be reached either through two small doors and vaulted passages directly into the cella or through the main doorway into the small antechamber or the chresmographeion where the priests revealed and interpreted the pronouncements of the oracle. The ceiling here was borne by two Ionic columns, making 122 columns in all.From the antechamber, three doors opened on to a flight of steps 16m/52ft wide leading into the cella 5.50m/18ft lower down. The sacred spring, at which the priestess put the questions to the oracle, and a sacred olive tree stood at the far end of the cella and the cult statue of Apollo was located by the end wall in a special room. Surrounding the temple lay gymnasia, baths and hostels for pilgrims. Further excavations are necessary to determine the precise dimensions.
A fine view extends northwards from Didyma to Karakuyu Bay, former site of the Milesian port of Teichioussa, eastwards to the hills of Caria and southwards to the Bodrum peninsula and the Greek island of Kos.
Didim Plaji is a lively resort with numerous hotels, guesthouses and apartment blocks. It lies about 4km/2.5mi to the south of Didyma. More holiday accommodation can be found further to the east in the Akbük Limani Bay.