There is something about summer nights in Antalya. And it is not just the humid air that makes your clothes cling to your skin and make you sweat profusely or the sounds of music and disco lights from faraway hotels and clubs you can spot in the night skies; it is an indescribable feeling of retrospect. Especially when you are in a historical place. Side is one of those places where you can be in the present – surrounded by the hustle of all tourists – and sense the history embedded into the city simultaneously.
If you have never been there, Side is located in the Manavgat district of the renowned holiday city “Antalya”. Side is regarded as a neighborhood of Manavgat, and it is quite a lovely place to just spend a day in. Whether to have breakfast near the sea, swim, fish, stroll or just spend the night in the lively streets; it is the perfect place to go to when you want to feel the freedom that comes with a summer vacation. Even entering the city is therapeutic. After diverging from the main road, you only have to follow the path. As you stroll, you will come face to face with the remnants of the once glorious city: temples, nymphaeum, theater, and many more.
Side had become a center of population, along with the entire region of Pamphilya when the Kingdom of Lydia dominated it. The Kingdom's downfall led Side to the Persian Empire, although Side preserved its autonomy (“Side Antik Kenti”).
Side was occupied by the Macedonian Empire, later, allowing the region to be introduced to Hellenistic culture (“Side, Turkey.”) After Alexander the Great’s death, the region was passed around between Hellenistic Kingdoms. Yet, Side was able to acquire independence, which paved the way to glorious ages for the region, especially in regard to being a cultural center, and spread glory all through the East Mediterranean. However, the glory did not last, and Side’s location in the Mediterranean also placed it as an open target for piracy. Side’s rid of pirates came in the disguise of the Roman Empire, which Side became a part of (“Side Antik Kenti”).
Regardless, the city’s downfall began in the 3-4th century with the invasions from the Taurus Mountains – by highlanders (“Side, Turkey.”) In the forms of raids, zealots, and earthquakes, the city took hit after hit, and most citizens fled to Antalya eventually. Although there were attempts to revive the city, these were not successful in the long term, and Side stayed as the “Old Antalya”(“Side, Turkey.”).
After all that Side had gone through, it was reclaimed by Turkish Muslim immigrants and became the holiday region we cherish now (“Side, Turkey.”)
Now that we have covered the history of Side, let’s take a look at the artifacts that lie there. When I first think of Side, the ones that pop into my mind are the temples. If you are well acquainted with mythology, you will probably know the names of gods that were worshiped in the city before. Athena and Apollo were the main worshiped gods of Side: Athena was also known as the protector of the city and marine trade (Arkeogezgin). Although only parts of the pillars stayed, they underwent restoration in order to be preserved in the past (Arkeogezgin) and should be definitely visited if you were to come to Side. With their delicate engravings and motifs, the pillars are completely enchanting.
And, a place that is one of the most prominent places of all is the Ancient Theater. The Theater itself is gigantic and is able to host 15 thousand people (Gezinomi). The theater was known to host many events and is one of the greatest theaters in the region (Gezinomi). I remember that even just standing in the midst of the rows overwhelmed me when I visited there; thus, I cannot even fathom the excitement one would feel to be in the past and watching events in real-time.
Overall, these are just examples of what the Side Ancient City offers us. There is an entire city, an interlocked history to visit and learn. And besides that, I believe that words cannot capture the essence of Side. When you enter there, you can just feel the comforting presence of the city envelop you; I believe visiting there at least once is an opportunity that should not be missed.
“Side Antik Kenti” Kültür Portalı, https://www.kulturportali.gov.tr/turkiye/antalya/gezilecekyer/side-1.
“Side, Turkey.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Aug. 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Side,_Turkey.
“Tarihi Ve Doğasıyla i̇lgi Çeken Side:Mutlaka Görmeniz Gereken Tarihi Ve Turistik Noktaları.” Gezinomi, https://www.gezinomi.com/gezi-rehberi/side-gezinizde-ugramaniz-gereken-tarihi-yerler.html.
“Side Antik Kenti.” Arkeogezgin, https://www.arkeogezgin.com/side-antik-kenti/.