Famous as a center of art and culture in the fourth century BC, Cnidos was established at the same time that Halicarnassus was, as one of the six Dorian colonies in Asia Minor. It seems to have kept a purer Greek character, no doubt because it set its sights seaward and had little contact with the interior. Around 360 BC, the city was rebuilt at the windblown tip of the peninsula, banking on the fact that a good harbor at the outer corner of Asia Minor would become a popular calling-port for ships on the Aegean - East Mediterranean transit routes. The rocky island facing the shore at the new site was joined to the mainland with a causeway, creating two deep harbors on either side of the isthmus: one on the Aegean and the other on the Mediterranean.
The island section held the residential quarters, a series of colonnaded walkways rose in tiers on the land side. Two large theaters, an odeon and three temples completed what must have been a striking ensemble in the midst of a desolate crag.
The remains of a circular temple dedicated to the goddess of love Aphrodite overlook remains of the two harbors: the arcaded way was built of white marble heart - shaped columns. The legendary Aphrodite of Praxiteles statue, reputedly one of the most beautiful sculptures of the antiquity, once graced this temple. The city was renowned as one of the most beautiful in ancient Greece.