Turkey 25: Priene, Miletus, Didyma

This morning, we got a first hand look at Turkish hospitality.  With a vengeance!

One of the first things we did when we got in to Selcuk was figure out how to do a “PMD Tour.”  There are three sets of ruins in the neighbourhood – Priene, Miletus and Didyma – which are all close enough together that you can see them in a day if you have transportation or you are on a tour.  We stood at the desk of Hotel Artemis, asked if one could be arranged and, after calling a few agencies to see who was offering one when, the tour was set.  8:30 today, we’d be picked up and be on our way.

Well, 8:42 came and went this morning and I figured that I should follow up on this.  Turns out that, in spite of the words “book it” coming out of our hotel’s mouth, the tour company hadn’t.  By the time the yelling had ended, the tour bus was already in Priene and we had missed our shot. 

That’s when the people at the hotel went to work.

The first option was to arrange a rental car, and we’d drive to all the sites ourselves.  Seeing as Daina is the only one with a license and how some of the drivers we’ve seen in Turkey have been suspect, at best, this was not our first choice.  Just before we were about to debate this, however, the hotel figured out a way to get us a driver for the day for 20 lira less than the tour cost – we’d just have to cover ruin fees. 


So, basically, Artemis Hotel saved the day!  These guys are really amazing and, if I were to start giving out Certificates of Excellence, as Daina suggests, I would give one to these guys!  Outstanding work!

So, on to the PDM tour.  Each site was amazing, though none were quite as massive as an Ephesus or Patara.  Still, they were all distinct and had one impressive, can’t miss visual.  So, here we go!


Priene was once a port city, a la Ephesus, although now all you see are fields where the sea would have been.  Where it has Ephesus beat, however, is natural beauty, as Mount Mykale dominates over the sights, framing the old theatre and five columns from the Temple of Athena, which was destroyed by, you guessed it, an earthquake!  It’s more Greek than Roman, and even has a section that was devoted to Egyptian gods, and makes for a great start to the day.


Another port city that no longer resembles a port, save from the swamp seeping out of the ground in a few places to provide some eerie reflecting pools, Miletus was probably founded by the Minoans (of Theseus and the Minotaur fame) and became a big centre for the Greeks at around 1000 BC.  The Milesian School of philosophy was one of the big ancient philosophy centres.  The visual draw here is the Great Theatre, which held 15000 in its heyday and would have given the audience views over what would have then been the sea. 


So as cool as it was standing where the Temple of Artemis would have stood, without the knowledge that it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, it would have been just a column in a field.  A big column, but nothing that gives you the sense of how massive the temple would have been.

Didyma, on the other hands, gives you that sense.  It was the second largest temple in the ancient world, behind Artemis, lagging behind by a mere five pillars.  Didyma’s oracle was also the second most important in the ancient world.  If you couldn’t get to Delphi, this was the place to go.  It’s a massive structure and I think we got lucky, in that the organized PDM Tours were having lunch at a nearby restaurant, so we got to see it with 10 people instead of around 50. 

Again, not huge numbers.  The opposite of Ephesus, basically.

So, great day, great sights, great job by Artemis to get us there.  Such a great job that we’ll actually be staying an extra night!  That actually has everything to do with the fact that, according to everybody, Pamukkale only needs an afternoon to get the full experience, so why not do something else with our day tomorrow.

Why not have an Aqua Fantasy?

 That’s a thing.  Tell you about it tomorrow.

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