You will be picked up from your hotel in Kusadasi or Selcuk at around 08:45 for your full day guided tour of three Greco-Roman cities. Priene, Miletus and Didyma.
Priene, an important trading port of the Ionian League of Greek settlements, was first established in the 11th century BC upon cliffs rising to almost 400 meters above the Aegean Sea. In those days the city overlooked the sea, which has since receded so that the ruins now sit somewhat inland. By the end of the 7th century BC, the Ionian cities were ruled by the Lydians, which lasted until the armies of the Persian King Cyrus defeated those of the Lydian King Croesus in the middle of the 6th century BC. At that time, most of what is today modern Turkey fell under the dominion of the Persians and remained so until conquest by Alexander the Great. It was he who ushered in a period of flourishing under the Hellenistic system and he who, in 334 BC, commissioned the construction of Priene’s Temple of Athena. Democracy thrived in Priene and, as evidenced by the ruins we see today, it was a wealthy city. What remains of this ancient city is quite extensive and in relatively good condition. The ruins are scattered among the local species of evergreen tree and set upon a hillside offering an expansive view of the plains below. The site is quite pleasant.
Miletus was also a wealthy and successful port city in classical antiquity and during later Roman times as well. It is considered to have been the most powerful of what were the twelve Ionian cities and is known to have greatly influenced the intellectual and philosophical development of the Aegean region. There is archaeological evidence at Miletus of human settlements that date as far back as the Neolithic Age and its recorded history begins with the Hittites around 1320 BC. It is believed that the apostle, Paul, visited Miletus on more than one occasion. In the Acts of the Apostles, Miletus is mentioned as the place where Paul met with the Ephesian elders in the year 57 (Acts 20:15-38). Much remains of the ancient city. Among what you will see is the quite large and well preserved theater, the baths, one of two marble lion statues that used to guard the Lion Harbor, the Harbor gateway and the Delphinion, which was the main temple at Miletus and dedicated to Apollo Delphinios, protector of ships and harbors. The Delphinion leads onto to the processional Sacred Way, which was the pilgrim route traveled upon to reach the Temple of Apollo at Didyma.
The tour breaks for lunch, usually near the temple ruins at Didyma.
Didyma is most famous for its massive Temple of Apollo and its status as a place of pilgrimage. The oracle of Apollo, received at the temple, was highly credible to those who sought its counsel during the archaic period and greatly relied upon by distinguished kings such as Croesus and Alexander. This temple at Didyma had importance comparable to and certainly only second to that which is located at Delphi in Greece. Didyma was considered divine as far back as the 10th century BC, probably because of the existence there of a fresh water spring directly upon which the Temple of Apollo was constructed. The temple has been carefully rebuilt and what remains today is quite impressive.
After the tour, you will be returned to your hotel. (Lunch is included)