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Sagalassos

The ancient site of Sagalassos is located on the hillside of Mount Akdag of Taurus mountain range near Aglasun village in southwestern Turkey, about 33 kilometers to Burdur province and 115 kilometers north of Antalya. The site covers an area of 2,5 kilometers by 1,5 kilometers at an altitude between 1500-1700 meters, being one of the largest and highest archaeological sites in Turkey.

Hittite sources from the 14th century BC mention a Luwian mountain settlement named Salawassa, this could be the earliest name of Sagalassos. During the Phrygian and Lydian periods the site became an urban center. The area was and still is rich of spring waters and has fertile lands.

Sagalassos was the most important city for the Romans in the Psidian region of Asia Minor. But it's known that the city was famous also during the Hellenistic period when Alexander the Great captured it in 332 BC. After his death, the region passed first under the control of the Seleucids of Syria and then under the Attalids of the Pergamon Kingdom around 189 BC. Between 1st and 6th centuries AD, especially under the reign of Hadrian in the 2nd century, the city lived its heydays, we understand this from high quality potteries made during that period and also from monumental buildings erected during his rule. After some major earthquakes in the 6th and 7th centuries, its inhabitants left the city and settled in the valley and lived there until 12th century, then Sagalassos disappeared. The ancient site was discovered in 1706 by a French traveler, and first excavations started in 1990 by Belgian archaeologists from Leuven university. Today, the excavations are sponsored by Aygaz, a private energy company belonging to Koc family in Turkey.

Most of the buildings in Sagalassos are from Hellenistic and Roman periods and are well preserved; one of them is the great theater with a capacity of 9,000 people. This is a theater built on the highest altitude in the world. The city has many tombs carved into the rocks, a library decorated with floor mosaics, Heroon, Odeon (small theater), Bouleterion (city council), temples, baths, agoras (market places), and monumental fountains which are also intact or restored. One of the most prominent monuments of the city is the Antonine fountain which is carefuly restored by archaeologists. Many marble sculptures found during the excavations, belonging to ancient gods such as Ares, Herakles, Hermes, Zeus, Athena and Poseidon, and colossal statues of the emperor Hadrian, emperor Marcus Aurelius, and Faustina as the wife of the emperor Antoninus Pius, are one of the best examples of this art in Anatolia.

The site is open all year around but visiting during winter months might be difficult due to heavy snow. A collection of small findings and statuettes are exhibited in the halls of Burdur museum of archaeology.

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