Aspendos, located about 50 kilometers east of Antalya, houses one of the largest Roman theatres ever built in Asia Minor. Built in 2nd century AD, the majestic theatre is awe-inspiring with its still-standing stage wall and seating for 15,000 – 20,000 people. Such care has been taken to restore the theatre, so the ancient tradition of performance continues in summer drama, ballet and opera performances. Most tour groups highlight the area right inside the entrance gate, so expect crowds to be present in high season. If you want to experience the theatre without having to wait for people to pass, go in the morning when it opens or near closing time in the evening.
Plan on a 30 minute visit if you just want to see the theatre, but we recommend packing snacks and water (or picking them up at the reasonably priced snack bar just inside the gate) and taking a couple of hours to roam the entire area. Follow the marked path up the hill and around to the left where you will find the Acropolis with remains of a basilica, agora, stadium and other various ruins. Our kids love to be set free here, and their creative minds run rampant as they climb and discover. With no ropes or areas blocked off, only their imagination and your comfort level limit the fun. A map as you approach the top that identifies the ruins, but otherwise, information is limited.
To get a nice view looking down at the theatre, when you get to the one noticeable tree under which you can find shade just before the sign with a map on the Acropolis, climb to the left and up another hill. Follow the path and you will be rewarded with a chance to take in the entire majestic theatre in one shot, no drone necessary.
For those who don’t mind walking a little farther, if you curve up to the right once you get to the top and keep going, you will come to an edge overlooking the remains of an ancient aqueduct and water towers, which is quite a site to see.
Be warned: it can be hot up on the acropolis hill during summer months, so be sure to wear sunscreen and bring or purchase water as there is nothing once you pass the snack bar at the entrance. You might also want to wear sturdy and comfortable walking shoes as there is a slight incline up the hills and the path is rocky.
For a special treat before or after your time in Aspendos, be sure to stop by Kadir’in Yeri to indulge in some delicious fresh-squeezed orange or pomegranate juice, Turkish tea, and flaky, filled gözleme (a deliciously layered Turkish pastry with meat, cheese, or potatoes that is a must try while you are here). You won’t be disappointed by their service with a smile.
Location: Sarıabalı, Aspendos Yolu, 07500 Serik/Antalya
Telephone: 0242 238 56 88
Hours: 1 April – 31 October: 8:00 – 19:00 Daily, 1 November – March 31: 8:30 – 17:30 Daily
(Entrance closes 30 minutes before site)
Entrance Fee: 42TL or Free with Museum Pass (January 2020)