One of the day trips that we took from Kusadasi in western Turkey was to see the Greek ruins at Aphrodisias. Of all of the ruins that we visited, Aphrodisias was actually our favorite even though it is not as excavated as the ones at Ephesus. The cruise ships don’t typically do tours to Aphrodisias, so you will not be surrounded by crowds and will be able to get up close to all of the different sites within the area. The ancient city gets its name from the Temple of Aphrodite that is located at the site, but one of things that makes Aphrodisias so unique is that was the location of the school where artists learned to carve statues, so there is a museum featuring many statues that the students had created.
As with many ancient Greek cities, it was later occupied by the Romans who built a large stadium for chariot races as well as Bouleuterion or amphitheater for the leaders to give speeches as well as to hold performances. Unfortunately, because the site doesn’t attract as many tourists, it hasn’t been as restored as other more famous locations. It has also suffered from several catastrophic earthquakes throughout its history, but what has been restored is truly quite stunning.
We would highly recommend visiting Aprhodisias when staying in either Kusadasi or Izmir as it is definitely worth taking time to see. From the monumental gateway, tetrapylon, the Temple of Aphrodite, the stadium, and the museum, there is enough to see to take at least a couple of hours walking amongst the ruins. As with any historical location, it is also a good idea to have a guide who can explain the history and culture of the city. Even in its current condition, one can certainly imagine what it would have looked like during the times of the Greeks and Romans who originally built it.