When cruising along the coastline of Turkey on a crewed yacht charter, excellent opportunities are available to visit many ancient sites, sometimes difficult to visit by land in this mountainous country. Ruins abound from many ancient civilizations that once called this coastline home. Given the relatively small amount of urbanization of this coastline, many ancient sites are still scattered in situ, barely touched, except by the ravages of time. Priene, located near modern Didem, is one such ancient Hellenic and Roman site, waiting amongst the pine trees to be discovered on a crewed yacht charter.
Once an ancient city of Ionia, Priene was first located on the Meander River. With subsequent silting and changes to the terrain, plus an earthquake, Alexander the Great moved the city to the current location in 350 BC. Even then, the city was located on cliffs and terraces overlooking a great deep harbor, however now silted plains and fields separate the city ruins from the sea.
Priene was a small city of around 6000 inhabitants; however the city was very wealthy, and for its time, was considered an upscale modern city. Priene was built on a grid pattern with channels built at ground level for a sewer system and aqueducts built above ground to funnel water to the city from springs, creating running water throughout the city, and even in-house toilets in about one third of the homes. Surrounding the city were thick walls with fortress towers, including three gates for entrance. When founding the city, Alexander built the Temple of Athena, asking that this temple be dedicated to him by the people of Priene. The dedication inscription stone is now located in the British Museum. Besides the Temple of Apollo, within the city were private homes, temples, a theater, a bouleuterion, a large stadium and Hellenistic gymnasium, and in later centuries a Roman bath. Due to the local wealth, many of the buildings were built of marble dug from nearby quarries.
Today 5 Ionic reconstructed columns silhouetted against the sky, and re-built in 1965 on the site of the Temple of Apollo, dominate the ruins. Three meters shorter than originally built, the columns were pieced together from column rubble found around the temple base. Access Priene is now via the original street still in place, by entering from the West Gate. This ancient street ends in stone steps leading up to the Temple of Apollo where a full view of the ancient site can be found.
Felt to be one of the most outstanding surviving examples of an entire Greek city, still in place in situ, the ancient site of Priene is a must to visit for any aficionado of history to visit while on a crewed yacht charter along the coast of Turkey.
For more information, contact Northrop and Johnson Yacht Charters.