Priene Ancient City of Ionia: The Valuable Ancient Greek City in Turkey

Priene ancient city of Ionia takes place about 6 miles (10 km) north of the Menderes (Maeander) River. And also it is situated 10 miles (16 km) inland from the Aegean Sea, in southwestern Turkey. Its well-preserved remains are a major source of information about ancient Greek town planning. The ancient city is among some of the most historical and old ancient cities in Turkey. It is, therefore, a very valuable archaeological treasure in the country.

5 columns have reached today quite well-preserved
5 columns have reached today quite well-preserved

A Brief History of Priene Ancient City

By the 8th century, BC Priene was a member of the Ionian League, whose central shrine, the Panionion, lay within the city’s territory. Priene was sacked by In the 7th century BC, Ardys of Lydia sacked Priene. However, the city regained its prosperity in the 8th century. Later on, the generals of the Persian king Cyrus captured the city (c. 540). Therefore, the city took part in several revolts against the Persians between 499–494.

Priene Ancient City laid out on a grid plan, with 6 main streets running east-west
Priene Ancient City laid out on a grid plan, with 6 main streets running east-west

The Rise and the Decline of the City

Priene originally lay along with the Maeander River’s mouth, but about 350 BC the citizens built a new city farther inland, on the present site. The new city’s main temple, by the way, is Athena Polias. People of Priene Ancient City dedicated the temple to Alexander the Great in 334. Afterward, the little city grew slowly over the next two centuries and led a quiet existence. The city prospered under the Romans and Byzantines but gradually declined. And after passing into Turkish hands in the 13th century AD, it was abandoned. Excavations of the site, which is occupied by the modern town of Samsun Kale, began in the 19th century.

Priene Archaeological Site is the first planned city system
Priene Archaeological Site is the first planned city system

The Structure of the Priene Ancient City

Modern excavations have revealed one of the most beautiful examples of Greek town planning. The city’s remains lie on successive terraces that rise from a plain to a steep hill upon which stands the Temple of Athena Polias. Pythius was the probable architect of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Aftermath, people of that time recognized the temple in ancient times as the classic example of the pure Ionic style. Furthermore, Priene laid out on a grid plan, with 6 main streets running east-west. And what’s more, 15 streets crossing at right angles, all being evenly spaced. The town is thereby divided into about 80 blocks, or insulae, each averaging 150 by 110 feet (46 by 34 m).

The ancient city is in Turkey's Aydın city, in Söke Province
The ancient city is in Turkey’s Aydın city, in Söke Province

Architects devoted about 50 insulae to private houses. The better-class insulae had four houses apiece, but most were far more subdivided. In the center of the town stand not only the Temple of Athena but an agora, and a stoa. Moreover, there was also an assembly hall and a theatre with well-preserved stage buildings. A gymnasium and stadium are in the lowest section. The private houses typically consisted of a rectangular courtyard enclosed by living quarters and storerooms. And so, they are opening to the south onto the street by way of a small vestibule.

Theatre of Priene, Ancient city of Ionia
Theatre of Priene, Ancient city of Ionia

Useful Informations on Priene Archaeological Site

The archaeological site is open every day. As for the entrance fee of the Priene Archaeological site, it costs 10 TL (about 1 €). For any further information, click here.

  • Winter Period
    1 October – 1 April
    Opening time: 08:30
    Closing time: 17:30
  • Summer Period
    1 April – 1 October
    Opening time: 10:00
    Closing time: 19:00

You can see the exact location of the site by clicking here.

So, you should visit this historical treasure once you get the chance. Due to the coronavirus conditions, the people in charge took all the necessary precautions. It is totally safe and it promises you an unforgettable journey to ancient history.

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