Aspendos

Aspendos

Today’s trip to Aspendos was slightly more involved than yesterday’s trip to Perge. After getting off the tram at Aksu station, we had to catch the bus to Serik.

This bus has a more provincial feel – check out the fringes dangling from the roof, and all the little evil eyes hanging off the window. You pay when you get off (16TL for the both of us).

After 30 minutes, we got off at a roundabout in Serik to catch the no. 10 bus to Aspendos. (For details, check out The Travelingi blog. I recommend pinning the stops on Google maps, so you’ll know exactly where to catch the bus and where to get off). When we got to the nondescript bus stop, we decided to check with the taxi stand nearby that we were waiting in the correct place since there were no signs. Wrong move. They proceeded to tell us that the bus doesn’t run frequently due to COVID, and offered to drive us to Aspendos for $15. I specifically remembered that the bus runs every hour, at five to the hour. Since we still had 10 minutes, we told the taxi driver that we would wait a bit and decide about taking the taxi. He offered to drop the price down to $12, but we deferred. Ten minutes later an associate of his came back to us and offered to drive us for $10. We showed him a website that indicates a cab ride to Aspendos is only $4-6. They kept insisting $10, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw the no. 10 bus pulling up.

The fare per person is 3.25 TL ($0.40)! The bus does run once an hour, and I can’t imagine that it would cut back on the services since a lot of locals still take it. Moral of the story, don’t approach taxi drivers for anything other than directions. They’ll try to tell you anything to make a buck, or ten.

The bus driver was exceptionally friendly and helpful. He mentioned the Eagles when he found out we were from California (the Eagles sang Hotel California). Another local lady with very limited English started pointing out sights to us while we were on the bus. She seemed especially proud that she knew the word aqua duct. She also pointed out a small waterfall, and the driver mentioned Grand Canyon, to which we said, “Grand Canyon is very big”. Without missing a beat, the lady pointed to the falls and said, “Turkish Canyon”.

After another 35-minute ride, we arrived in Aspendos. Yes, the whole public transport took a total of 2 hours, but we’re retired and have nothing but time on our hands. Plus, I feel that the journey adds something special to this excursion to Aspendos. Had we just taken a tour, it would have just melded with all other tours and become forgettable. In 10 years, we’ll look back fondly, and remember “the time when the taxi drivers…” or “Turkish Canyon”.

Aspendos is known for its exceptionally well preserved theater. Most other theaters are in various stages of disrepair, but Aspendos continues to host opera and ballet performances to this day. The reason why it had been so well preserved is because the Seljuk Turks had converted it to a palace in the 13th century.

Almost all other theaters are missing the theater façade
Top left clockwise: Aspendos, Perge, Hierapolis
This one is completely intact, save for the sculptures, which are probably housed in the Antalya Museum.
Aspendos can accommodate 12,000 patrons. The Romans added the arches in the back. Greeks tended to leave their theaters open on the top.
Top left clockwise: Knidos, Perge, Xanthos, Kaunos, Aspendos. Missing is Letoon, as it was so uninspiring that I didn’t even bother to take a photo of it.
Wonderfully preserved arches
A carving of Dionysus at the top of the theater
Residual yellow and red paint left over from the Seljuk period
Joe’s been my reluctant Instagram subject this whole trip, but as they say, “Happy wife, happy life.”

As for the rest of Aspendos, much of it hasn’t been excavated as extensively as Perge has been.

We still managed to spend 2 hours in Aspendos. Caught the same bus back to Serik, and the (same) bus driver showed us where to catch the bus back to the Aksu tram station.

Back in town for lunch/dinner, and a stroll around different parts of town.

From left to right: clock tower, Yivliminare Mosque’s fluted minaret, Tekeli Mehmet Paşa Mosque’s minaret, a minaret of another mosque.
View of the marina from up top

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