Nestled 8 kilometers east of Serik district, where the Köprüçay River reaches the plains from the mountainous region, Aspendos stands as a testament to ancient prosperity. Founded by the Greeks in the 10th century BC, this city thrived as one of the well-developed metropolises of its time. The remarkable theater of Aspendos, constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century AD, remains an awe-inspiring structure that has endured the test of time. Built on two hills—one large and one small—Aspendos bears witness to a rich history that echoes through the ages.
Geographers Strabo and Pomponius Mela wrote about Aspendos as a city founded by the Akalarians. However, the name "Aspendos" has its roots in the ancient Anatolian language, which predates the arrival of the Romans. Throughout history, Aspendos was a coveted city due to its strategic location along an important trade route and its connection to the harbor through the Köprüçay River.
The ancient city of Aspendos was under the rule of the Persians until the early 5th century BC, as indicated in research notes on Pamphylia cities by the documentary director Tekin Gün in 2003. The nearby river witnessed the Battle of Eurymedon in 467 BC, where the Greeks emerged victorious against the Persians.
The most significant structure in Aspendos is its theater, which stands as one of the best-preserved open-air theaters among ancient ruins. It is a remarkable example of a Roman theater that has retained its stage to this day. The theater was designed by Zenon, son of the Aspendian architect Theodorus. Construction began during the reign of Antonius Pius and was completed under Marcus Aurelius (138-164). The theater was dedicated to the city's local deities and the imperial family.
Each year, thousands of local and foreign tourists flock to Aspendos to explore this historical gem. The ancient theater also serves as a venue for concerts and various events, mesmerizing audiences with its remarkable acoustics.
Besides its architectural grandeur, Aspendos Theater holds a small tale of its own. Once upon a time, Aspendos had a beautiful princess whom everyone desired to marry. Unable to decide who should marry his daughter, the king announced to the people, "I will give my daughter to whoever does the most beneficial thing for our people and city." In response, two twin brothers embarked on ambitious endeavors. One of them built an elaborate water aqueduct, bringing water from distant lands despite numerous challenges. The other brother constructed a theater with such flawless acoustics that even a whisper from the upper tiers could be heard clearly. Witnessing the water aqueduct, the king was inclined to give his daughter to the one who built it. However, the architect of the theater, Zenon, played a clever trick on the king. As the king wandered through the tiers of the theater, he overheard a whisper, "The king should give his daughter to me." Enchanted by the acoustics, the king divided his daughter into two with a large sword and gave each brother a part.
Aspendos Theater's allure extends beyond its architectural magnificence, encompassing captivating stories from its rich past. The grandeur and history of this ancient gem continue to inspire awe and wonder among all who visit, as it stands proudly as a testament to human ingenuity and the enduring beauty of the ancient world.