Archive for September 2010

Visit to Side – brief history.   1 comment

Side, what a nice place to have all that archaeology.  Last weekend a friend and I went over to Side, about four hours straight driving time from here. To someone with a passing interest in history it is like manna from heaven. Archaeology surrounds you on all sides and under your feet too, in the old town you never seem to be more than a couple of metres from another piece of carved stone.

Apparently there had been a late season rush and most of the hotels were fully booked but two rooms were found in a little ’boutique’ hotel and, while not exactly salubrious, it provided shelter, breakfast and a bar.

A quick shower and change and out to see the sights pretty much left me with my jaw on the floor. I’ve never been to Rome or any of the big ancient Greek places but the extent and quality of the remains in Side are a bit overwhelming at first. The ‘old’ town of Side (not as old as the remains though) is made up of small houses converted into bars, restaurants and hotels in more modern years. A lot of the buildings incorporate 2000 year old remains. The origins of the ancient city date from the 15th century B.C. and it has had a history of being attacked and occupied by most of the rulers of the Middle Eastern empires. It was invaded by the Persians in 547 B.C. and surrendered to Alexander the Great in 334 B.C later to become the site of his mint. The Ptolemaios and Seleucids then fought over it and it became part of the kingdom of Pergamos in 188 B.C.

The theatre dates from the second century A.D. with additions in the third century.


Side had gained importance as one of the Mediterranean trading centres and at the beginning of the 1st century B.C. pirates captured and carried out raids on shipping and trading caravans.

In 78 B.C. the Romans took it over and it’s rise to it’s heyday began. Temples, a huge amphitheatre, baths and all the trappings of the finest Roman lifestyle were built. Cleopatra and Anthony stayed there too, although a friend of mine says this about them:

“Did you know that Cleopatra was an arrogant bitch who had a habit of murdering her siblings and other relatives, as well as in intervals the entire aristocracy in Alexandria  in order to stay in power? The only reason she stayed in power and was not taken over by the Romans was due to the support of her lovers, first Caesar and later Anthony. They used her as a source of gold and grain, both important for their wars. Likewise, Anthony was not the dazzling man one would like to imagine. He was a lousy general; made a major mistake somewhere east of Turkey – attacking while leaving his supply troops behind, unprotected in an open field. Also, he was a heavy drinker. So, now the Cleopatra and Anthony illusions are destroyed. But apparently they did love each other.”

And there’s more:

“Know how they died? Cleopatra built herself a huge mausoleum in Alexandria and when things went bad and the two were hunted down by Octavian and his army, she went in there and ordered the only door to be permanently closed with a stone wall (but there was a window!). Through a courier she let Anthony know that she was dead (which was not the case; cunning woman she was). So he decided to commit suicide and asked a slave to help him do it. But the slave did not want to do it and instead killed himself. So Anthony stabbed himself into the stomach, but did not do a complete job of it. Cleopatra heard his cries and looked out of the window, from which he rightfully concluded that she was not dead. He wanted to join her; so he got pulled up and in through the window of the mausoleum and he died shortly thereafter. So now she had to decide to commit suicide. She died 10 days later; historians think by letting herself being bitten by a poisonous snake. Her kids by Caesar and Anthony were later on killed by the Romans.”

The slave trade and maritime commercial activities further increased the wealth found in Side but by the end of the 3rd century A.D. following attacks from the northern mountain peoples it’s prosperity waned. For the next hundred years it was a shadow of it’s former glory and then a Christian Bishopric, founded by the Byzantine Empire in 5th and 6th centuries restored it’s fortunes. Between the 6th and 10th centuries it suffered earthquakes, attacks by Arabs and was again taken over by pirates. The people had obviously had enough by the the 10th century because they left to go to live in Antalya, in 1150 it was completely abandoned.

The Seljuks reigned over the area in the 13th century and then the Ottomans from the 15th but nothing was done to restore the city, then when the population exchange between Greece and Turkey occurred in the early 20th Century Turks from Crete established a village called Selimye on the site of the ancient city. This has now become Side full of tourism with it’s long sandy beaches and miles of hotels.

Anyone with a passing interest in the history of the Mediterranean peoples or archaeology would have a great experience by visiting Side. I intend to go again sometime during early spring to get some better photographs and enjoy some time there unhampered by pushy bar staff and holidaymakers.

On the day we left we went looking for a pig and ostrich farm that we had been told about. It is to the north of Manavgat and eventually we found it but weren’t able to buy any meat, much to my disappointment. I’ll definitely phone ahead next time so that they can get the freezer stocked up. I was strange to see the pigs in their sties and ostriches in their pens though.

Posted September 25, 2010 by cukurbagli in Building, History, Tourism, Turkey

House SOLD!   7 comments

The house is now sold I am very glad to say.

Posted September 11, 2010 by cukurbagli in Uncategorized