The Priene, Miletos & Didyma Tour is a day full of archaeological wonders. From ancient cities and Apollo’s Temple to beautiful old towns – you will be immersed in Turkish history and culture.
The first establishments in Priene goes back to 2000 BC. According to ancient documents, these first settlers were the Banians, who mixed with the Ionians. In the Archaic period, the city’s location may have been nearer to Miletos on the delta of the Buyuk Menderes (Meander) however later the city moved in the direction of the Mykale Mountains’ slope.
The name “Priene” is thought to have a pre-Greek origin, from when the Cretan islands, ”Praisos and Prianson” had relations with Priene. Even though Priene became one of the 12 members of the Ionian Confederation and participated in the “Ionian Rebellion”, Priene had been a Lydian dominion for several centuries.
Approx. 283 BC, a border quarrel arose between Priene and the Greek Island Samos. It was only solved one century later when both parties accepted to become Roman vassals. As a result, Priene was under the control of the Bergamian King, Attalos II, who was to return the city to the Romans after his death.Due to endless wars and the alluviums invading the city, Priene was worn out and abandoned completely in the XIIIth century AD.
Miletos is one of the oldest cities of Ionia, located north of Soke, about 60 km away from Selcuk. The city was on the point where the Buyuk Menderes (“Meander”) flew into the Aegean Sea. Due to an increase in sedimentation, Miletos has several different harbours, which can still be seen today.
Miletos was also the home of many scientists and philosophers, such as Thales, Anaximander, Hekataios (principle source to Herodotos) and closer to us, Isidorus, the architect of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Miletos had its alphabet recognized by the Greek world as the official Greek alphabet, which became the basis of the current Latin alphabet.
In 200 BC, Miletos became the dominion of the Myceneans, this can be seen in the style of the ceramics in the houses and the city walls. During the Roman Empire, it became an independent city and later a bishopric during early Christian times. During the Byzantine period Miletos was called “Ania”. As of that time, due to geographic and climatic changes, the city completely lost its importance and was to be abandoned.
The most important monuments to be seen at Miletos are: the Bath of Faustina, the Delphinion (small temple dedicated to Apollo Delphinion, protector of ships and harbours) and the amphitheatre.
As a logical continuation, after Priene and Miletos, one goes to Didyma, a famous temple for its oracles. This temple dedicated to Apollo, was the richest and biggest of the Ionian temples on Anatolian soil. It was to cover such a vast area, that its construction lasted more than 150-200 years and yet it was planned to be without a ceiling.
Again after the “Ionian Rebellion”, it was Alexander the Great who ordered its restoration. On the ruins of the 6th century BC temple, a church was built during the Byzantine period. Though what you see of the church today are of pre-Christian age.
The temple was famous all over the Greek world for its oracles, so much so, that it even surpassed the reputation of Delphi. As a result the harbour of Panamos near Didyma became very busy and was visited by lots of commanders, ordinary and respected people, they wanted to learn their future from the priests of the temple.
After the Lade War, many of the priests had to escape from the temple or were killed by Alexander the Great and again the temple of Didyma became an unimportant temple until the Roman times.