Everytime we book a trip to Turkey, at least a handful of people ask us why we want to go to a place where “there’s lots of trouble”. There’s obviously been a spate of bombings and riots, and of course the coup that happened last year. We love it though. It’s a place that’s completely steeped in character, amazing food, and culture. This was our fourth visit there and this time we decided we would take it easy and just chill out. I have many grand plans for seeing Turkey. One day I’d love to see so much more of it. The ruins of Ephesus, more of Istanbul, Cappadocia and Pammukale to list a few. We’re waiting till the toddler stops flinging himself out of things and over things. I’m hoping that’ll be sometime soon after his second birthday.
This year, we decided to take a leisurely walk to the ancient harbour or Side to see Apollo’s temple.
The ancient harbour of Side
Side is an ancient harbour town, founded by the ancient Greeks and it dates back to before the 7 BC and has Greek, Roman and Byzantine history. Due to its location, it became a critically important harbour point and the harbour flourished over the centuries. It is said Alexander the Great occupied the city easily in 33BC and ruled it under his death. Side then fell under Roman and Byzantine control over the centuries and each has shaped what you see there today.; glorious ruins in the midst of a modern harbour.
The influence of Side declined over time and around the 12th century and its now a popular destination for families. If you’re after a place to party or drink the night away till dawn then this is not really the place for you. Side has developed a very quiet and friendly family culture over time and it has a very laid back kind of atmosphere. There is kitsch in the middle of delicious food and beautiful ruins that have become a part of every day life. We now love taking a wander each year and we drive past the amphitheatre that used to hold up to 10,000 spectators and we walk down the harbour admiring all the new and old boats and then try to catch Apollos Temple at sunset.
The Temple of Apollo
The Temple of Apollo is a temple dedicated to the Greek and Roman god of Apollo and was considered the most important building of the town or the city. There are several around the Mediterranean and you will find them all the way from Turkey to Pompeii in Italy. Today the temples are mostly in ruins and Side is similar. Open to the public, you can explore and walk across where the Temple once stood. Timed right, you can see the sun set through the columns and the moon rise and its easy to see why, with all the stunning views, that spot was picked. Its all free, like many ruins through this part of the world, and so nice to be able to touch it and see it up
A church was built next to the Apollos Temple in 5BC and most of the ruins still stand today. There is a reconstruction project in progress at the moment, but you can still get in and have a look at the state its in and it impressively still gives you a good flavour of the type of building it was, down to the detail in the decor. It comprises of 3 naves It’s been suggested that the church may have been built as a grave of a saint as it was destroyed in the 7th century and a smaller church in the basilica was later built in its place.
The next time we go I think we’ll take a good look at the amphitheater and maybe even attempt a trip to Ephesus. It looks amazing but is a good 5 hour drive from Antalya and wasn’t the best thing to do this time with a toddler that can’t sit still for more than an hour. Side is where we meet the same people year after year and now sit and have a good catch up about how our respective kids, that are of similar ages, are growing up way too fast and who have now very much into school (or not, depending on the week!) and how our toddlers are pretty much destroying our houses and how they’re so different to our first born. And hopefully, we’ll be back there next year exploring a bit more.