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Side

Side, (pronounced ‘see day’) one of the best-known classical sites in Turkey was an ancient harbour whose name meant pomegranate. Located at 65 Km from Antalya on the east is one of the best-known classical sites in Turkey which was an ancient harbor whose name meant pomegranate.

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The old town itself lies on a promontory 300 meters wide and 800 metres long and today, despite tourism development where new is meeting old the town still remains the most unique and charming resort on Turkey’s southern coast. As you walk from the top of the high street to the harbour, which was once a small fishing port and is now filling up with excursion boats, you can look down the small side streets to see the sea on either side of you. The old town has managed to retain many of its old features including its architecture and also the archeological sites. At every turn you will be faced with a new monument or ruin which never ceases to amaze those who return time after time.

Side is the only ancient city on Turkey’s southern shore to have been excavated systematically. It’s harbour served as a port, it was a slave market and flourished as a centre for piracy. The city prospered under the Roman Empire and most of the monuments date back to this time.. In the 10th century it was abandoned after a fire and the existing town only dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when it was founded by a group of Greek speaking Muslim exiles from Crete. After its earlier abandonment sand had blocked the harbour and covered many ruins, probably under much of the beach there is still part of the pre-existing city and its stadium.

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Today a pretty resort town, its ancient ruins, two sandy beaches, many shops and extensive tourist accommodation attract throngs of visitors. There are numerous cafes and restaurants with a view of the sea, and the shops that line the narrow streets sell typical Turkish handicrafts including leather goods and Turkey’s famous beautiful gold jewelry. Side was the most important port in Pamphylia, the Mediterranean region whose name meant Land Of All Tribes. Side itself was named after the pomegranate, a symbol of fertility in ancient Anatolian culture. Side was for centuries a magnet for people forced to leave their native land due to natural sdisaster or war. As you approach Side ruins appear in every direction: walls, aqueducts, agora, baths, theatre, temples, nymphion and tombs.

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Travelling along the incoming twisting, turning road into the old town you cannot miss the remains of an ancient time, a fine Roman aqueduct which used to carry water over 32kms from the mountains then, as you get closer the Agora (marketplace) on your left and the roman baths on your right which are the home to the museum (closed on a Monday) A fee paid to the museum allows you entry to this and to the theatre. During the past two summers the theatre has been opened up and has been used for midsummer culture, folklore and opera shows. The theatre, built in the 2nd century, one of the largest in Asia Minor, seating about 17,000 people is magnificent and from the top offers views over the town, the Hellenistic defence walls, the beaches and the sea.

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The entrance to the town itself being dominated by the theatre, the largest in the area is remarkable and the small roads through the town centre are restricted to the inhabitants or those who have a business within the walls. These people must buy a pass which permits them to go within the town. All visitors have to leave their car in the car-park at the top of the high street which of course is impossible during the high season, alternatively there is a larger car park approximately a 10 minute walk outside of the town from where a small visitor tram travels backwards and forwards (at a nominal cost) from approximately 8 o’clock m the morning until approximately midnight and later in the high season. At this time all traffic is stopped between 8pm and midnight in the town centre itself which becomes too crowded with pedestrians for cars.

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One of the best times to walk around the rums is at the end of the day when hopefully you can catch the sun setting behind the Apollo Temple, a sight you will have seen on the cover of many travel brochures. Also note. As you walk around the small back streets the beautiful architecturally designed old houses, many of which are being renovated in the to original style. There is a small town beach on the east side of the peninsula but this is mainly used by locals and although sandy can be frustrating as there are many rocks in and out of the water.

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