The 12 Best Sights of Side – Description and Photos

12 main attractions in Side

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If you are tired of lazy time on the beaches, go to one of the oldest cities in Turkey – Side, the attractions of which will help you to diversify your holiday. Being located on the Mediterranean coast, Side is primarily a resort town with plenty of sea and sand, where you can relax and enjoy the sun.

But at the same time, those who come here, have the opportunity every day to travel among the many small islands of ancient culture, combined into a single archipelago. There, beautifully set in a small harbor, the temple of Artemis, whose columns face the sea, and there, at the other end of the city, a huge Roman amphitheater, from the upper tier which offers a magnificent view of the majestic Taurus Mountains.

Temples of Apollo and Artemis

Temple of Apollo

Temple of Apollo | Photo: Fredrik Boulund / Flickr.

In the ancient Greek city of Side, Apollo and Artemis were the most revered deities, so it is not surprising that temples in their honor appeared here, on the Mediterranean coast, in close proximity to each other.

The construction of the sanctuaries dates back to the 2nd century BC. Today only a few columns with bas-relief depictions of the heads of Medusa Gorgon are left of them, but even that is enough to call this place a real archaeological gem. This compact stretch of Mediterranean coastline is very romantic and literally attracts couples in love.

Address: Side Mahallesi, Apollon Tapınağı, Manavgat/Antalya, Turkey.

Antique Theater

View of the Antique Theater

A view of the Antique Theater.

The impressive amphitheater of Side, built in the 2nd century AD, was the largest and one of the most famous in coastal Asia Minor. It could hold up to 20,000 spectators and rivaled the nearby theater of Aspendos in the richness of its architectural and sculptural decoration.

Look at the wall of the stage building to appreciate the beauty of the bas-relief depictions of various figures and faces, including Comedy and Tragedy.

Address: Side Mahallesi, Antik Tiyatro, Liman Caddesi, Manavgat/Antalya, Turkey.

Side Museum

Side Museum

Side Museum.

Side Museum is a 5th century building that was once the seat of the thermal baths of the city. It is a relatively small museum but has a rich collection of Ancient Greek and Roman statues, sarcophagi, bas-reliefs and coins found in the city and its surroundings.

Address: Side Müzesi, Side Mahallesi, 07330 Manavgat/Antalya, Turkey

Eastern Beach

Eastern Beach

Eastern Beach.

Walking along Barbaros Street, past the ruins of the state Agora, you will inevitably arrive at the beautiful Eastern Beach, one of the city’s best beaches. You can rent sun loungers and parasols.

Location: GPS coordinates 36°45’59.4″N 31°23’34.0″E.

Sandy Beach

View of Sandy Beach

View of Sandy Beach.

Side’s main beach is located north of the city center and is surrounded by rows of resort hotels. To get here, follow the city’s main street, Side Caddesi, and turn left into Sharmashik Street opposite the bus station.

If you do not have your own transport, you can get to Sandy Beach on one of the shuttle buses that depart regularly in this direction from the city theater.

Address: Sandy Beach, Side Mahallesi, Asterya Sk., 07330 Manavgat/Antalya, Turkey.

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State Agora

State Agora

State Agora.

The State Agora is an imposing Roman complex which functioned as the center of cultural life of the city. On the east side of the square you can see the remains of the original two-story building, which is believed to have been used as a library.

One of the niches in the columns preserves a statue of Nemesis, the goddess of retribution, who punishes transgressions of public order and morals. If you continue from the Agora to the eastern walls of the Old City, you will see the ruins of the Bishops’ Palace and the Baptistery, built in the Byzantine style.

These early Christian structures date back to the 5th and 10th centuries AD.

Address: Side Mahallesi, Devlet Agorası, Gül Sokak, Manavgat/Antalya, Turkey.

Tuhe Temple

Temple of Tiuhe

Tühe Temple | Photo: Carole Raddato / Flickr.

The small temple in the center of the Agora was erected in honor of Tühe, the ancient Greek goddess of luck. Its distinctive feature is its circular shape. Today you can see only fragments of the ancient sanctuary.

Address: Liman Cd. Side Mahallesi 07330 Manavgat/Antalya Turkey.

The Ancient City of Seleucia

The Ancient City of Seleucia

The ancient city of Seleucia. | Photo: Carole Raddato / Flickr.

When puzzling over what to see in Side, don’t lose sight of the attractions located not in the city itself, but in its immediate surroundings. Remarkable ruins of Seleucia, which was, like Side, part of Pamphylia, lie a kilometer away from the village of Seyler and which can be reached from Side through the Manavgat waterfalls.

The chaotically scattered ruins are covered with pine forests, which give the place a charming atmosphere of being lost in time. Very little is known about the history of this city. Moreover, historians are still debating whether this settlement should be called Seleucia or the ancient city of Lirbe.

A large complex of thermae, a well-preserved agora with colonnades, storerooms and rows of shops, a Byzantine church and an odeon with a mosaic depiction of Orpheus were discovered during archaeological excavations in the 1970s.

Address: Bucakşeyhler Mahallesi, Lyrbe, Manavgat Cd, Manavgat/Antalya, Turkey.

Manavgat Waterfall

Manavgat waterfall

Manavgat Waterfall.

Do you want to have a picnic but the beach is not the right place for you? Then go to the waterfall Manavgat. The waterfall is located on the river with the same name that begins in the Shaitan mountain range in the Taurus Mountains. The waterfall is surrounded by magnificent landscaped gardens and is very popular not only with tourists but also with the locals.

It is especially crowded on weekends, so if you want some semblance of solitude, try to choose a weekday for your picnic. Using a network of platforms, you can get as close as possible to the falls, which will give you the opportunity to take great close-up photos of the streams of water plummeting down.

Let the thundering roar of the water be the great soundtrack to your encounter with this natural wonder.

Address: Sarılar Mahallesi, Manavgat Telalesi, İstiklal caddesi, Manavgat/Antalya, Turkey.

The Ancient City of Selge

The Ancient City of Selge

The ancient city of Selge | Photo: Andreas / Flickr.

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High up in the Taurus Mountains, about 50 kilometers north of Aspendos, is the village of Altynkaya, made famous by the ruins of the ancient city of Selge. It is said that the town was founded by the blind soothsayer Calhas, who went there at the end of the Trojan War.

For several centuries the city managed to maintain its independence, helped in no small measure by its remote location.

At the same time the economy of Selga, remote from the main trade routes, flourished, all thanks to good relations with the cities of coastal Pamphylia. Modern history buffs can easily spend a day here exploring the ruins of the ancient city.

If you don’t have much time, you can take a look at the Roman amphitheatre and stadium, which has a seating capacity of 10,000 and is adjacent to it. There are remnants of the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of Artemis to the southwest of the ancient theater, and the ruins of the Agora are scattered to the east.

Address: Altınkaya Mahallesi, Selge Antik Kenti, Manavgat/Antalya, Turkey.

Keprülü Canyon

Seven kilometers east of Aspendos, the long, humpbacked bridge built by the Romans crosses the mountainous Keprücay River. To the north, behind the village of Alabalyk, the river narrows, marking the boundary of the beautiful national park of Köprülü Canyon. This canyon is the best place in the region for rafting (rafting tours can be booked both in Side and in Antalya).

Even if you are indifferent to this extreme sport, a visit to the canyon is still worthwhile: there are very interesting hiking routes, and the picturesque scenery of the gorge will allow you to keep the memory of this little trip for many years.

Address: Bozyaka Mahallesi, Köprülü Kanyon Milli Parkı, Manavgat/Antalya, Turkey.

Düdansik Caves

Dudanshik Caves

Düdansik Caves | Photo: wikimedia.

South of Side, near the small town of Cevizli, novice speleologists can try their hand exploring one of the deepest cave networks in Turkey. In some places, the caves of Düdansik go 330 meters deep into the earth.

One of the many underground rivers comes to the surface in the form of a karst spring, which you can see near Pamukluk. The real “moles” are waiting for another cave complex, located in the southeast, near the village of Akseki.

Here a local guide will show you a number of underground lakes. You can reach these picturesque places by off-road car, through Manavgat.

Address: Yağca Mahallesi, Karain Mağarası, Antalya Merkez, Turkey.

Side Sights

The name of Side in Turkey is translated as “pomegranate” and the juicy and unusual taste of this fruit is just perfect for this amazing resort with its warm and crystal clear sea and wonderful velvet sand. But Side is not just a beach, it is a very interesting ancient town, lovingly restored, which stands before the mesmerized tourists in all its grandeur!

In the antique city itself there is a lot to see: the temple of Apollo and Athena, whose columns have become a symbol of the city, the Nympheum Fountain, the Arch Gate, the huge Amphitheater, the majestic Agora, the Bishop’s palace and the basilica. There is also a magnificent archaeological museum and Antique Harbor, from which go on a voyage of stylized ships. The area around Side has plenty to see – the ancient cities of Aspendos and Seleucia, Manavgat artificial waterfalls, Troy water park and the fascinating Sea Park with dolphins.

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1. City Walls of Side

How did an ancient city of the second century B.C. begin? Well, of course, with the city walls, and it is this landmark that in varying degrees of preservation has survived to this day! If you look at the walls that protected the city from the bay, they were first built, then torn down, then rebuilt and repaired again. But they did not survive till our time: they died under a thick layer of sand, so the city walls of Side on the mainland are the only thing left of antiquity. Another small series of walls was built in the 4th century, and their construction was impressive: one floor rose above the other, it was a building three floors high. The city walls of Side, as well as most of the surviving structures in the city during the heyday of Hellenism, are stunning!

2. Nympheum Fountain

The Great Fountain of Nympheum was built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian and his son, around the second century AD. The height of the Nympheum Fountain is 5 meters, but in width it reaches 35 meters! Located on the northeast side of the city, just after leaving the city gates – and this is no coincidence: the first thing that struck the traveler was a three-story structure on his way.

In ancient times such fountains were filled with water from the nearest river by running it down an aqueduct. It is assumed that in former times, the Nympheum Fountain, of which only two stories have survived, was three stories high and very majestic. Marble was used in the architecture of the fountain, and water poured into the bowls made of it, all this was complemented by Corinthian columns and beautiful statues. But that’s not all: marble was also used for facing, and it was decorated with beautiful frescoes, which subsequently moved to the museums of Side.

The Aqueduct of Side

The aqueduct is situated on the northwest side of Side and was built for the city’s needs, and was characterized by the fact that it brought water from the Manavgat River to Side in an almost straight line. The aqueduct was constructed in the second half of the second century and consisted of 30 kilometers of complex engineering constructions – 22 aqueduct bridges, 16 tunnels, which reached a length of 2260 meters, all because the water had to be drained from a height of 36 meters.

Unfortunately, the most colorful aqueducts went underwater; they ended up at the bottom of the Oymapinar Reservoir. The aqueduct itself supplied water from the Manavgat River to the city, and already in the city the water was distributed to all the houses, including the famous Nympheum Fountain. A piece of the aqueduct can be seen near this fountain.

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4. the Agora and the Tuhe Temple

The Agora of Side is a market square 90 meters in size and was built in the second century, nowadays only the foundations of the premises that served the rows of merchants and the premises themselves remain, these rows are put in a “U” shape, the free side was near the Roman theater.

In the center of the Agora was a temple of the goddess of luck Tiuhe; its roof was shaped like a pyramid with 12 sides, and on the roof were images of Sagittarius, Scorpio and other signs of the zodiac. It is curious that of all the things that survived in the Agora, the most intact was a public marble toilet for 24 people. The commercial Agora had access to the city Agora, with the walls of Philip Attius; the city Agora, made in the form of a square, was smaller in area.

5. Temple of Apollo and Athena

It is impossible to go to Side without visiting its most picturesque and famous place, the Temple of Apollo. It is probably the most photographed monument in Side which is the symbol of the city and the image of the five columns of Apollo’s temple can be seen almost everywhere! The Temple of Apollo in Side was erected back in the second century AD in honor of the ancient god Apollo, the patron of beauty and art. Unfortunately this “visiting card” of the city was seriously damaged during the powerful earthquake a thousand years ago.

Originally, the temple had a strict form of a rectangular building, surrounded on all sides by a colonnade of white marble. From all this splendor remained only picturesque ruins, the remains of the foundation and five columns. According to a legend, it was built by order of commander Antony in honor of the Egyptian beauty Cleopatra.

6. Antique Theater of Side

It is considered the largest surviving amphitheater in Turkey: at one time it could seat 20 thousand spectators in 49 rows and was built in the second century AD. By the way, the theater not only hosted comedies and tragedies, but also gladiatorial fights and human and animal encounters. In Byzantine times the theater building was also used as an urban quarry.

7. Vespasian Gate

The arched gate of Side was built by order of Emperor Vespasian and is therefore often called the Vespasian Gate. It was the main gate of the city and was the starting point of the Colonnade Road which led to the ancient Agora of Side. Vespasian’s Gate guarded the main entrance to ancient Side with two towers on either side of the arches. Despite its dilapidated state, the gate still amazes visitors with its majesty and uniqueness.

The current height of the monumental gate is 13.5 meters, but in ancient times, the structure was much higher. In the niches of the wall next to the gate there used to be statues of noble citizens and, in fact, the emperor (now the monument to Vespasian is stored in Berlin). In the 4th century AD the arch of the gate was partially closed by the wall and a smaller opening was left in it to protect the city from the barbarians.

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8. Archaeological Museum

Although all sights of Side are in the open air, many interesting exhibits found during excavations of the city of Side, are in the local archaeological museum. Side Museum is located near the Vespasian Gate in a well-preserved building of Roman baths of the fifth century. The museum has several rooms divided according to subjects: amphorae, busts, altars, military equipment, a bronze sculpture of Artemis, and a marble bust of Apollo. And of course there is a cozy courtyard with peacocks and you can take pictures in this interesting museum.

9. Manavgat Waterfall

Manavgat Waterfall is located 3 km from Side and not far from the city of the same name. The waterfall is an artificial dam, which appeared when a reservoir was built on the river: for hydro-technical purposes it was necessary to have such a height difference in this place. The main feature of Manavgat waterfall is its amazing size: it reaches a height of 2 meters and a width of 40 meters! There are plenty of tourist stalls around: they sell souvenirs, there are places to relax, there are also cafes available, among which institutions that stand out for their quality fish cuisine.

10. The ancient city of Aspendos

About 20 kilometers from Side is the amazing ancient city of Aspendos, which was built 20 centuries ago! A unique amphitheatre with 39 rows of seats for 7,000 spectators, dating back to 155 AD, an aqueduct stretching for 15 kilometers and an arch bridge across the Evrimedon river, built in the 13th century and 260 meters long and 8 meters wide, can still be seen in Aspendos.

Aquapark of Troy

Troy Aquatic Park in Belek near Side gets its name from the 25-meter high statue of a Trojan horse, which is part of the amusement park, several slides that descend directly from this figure. The water park is located in the hotel Rixos Premium Belek, covers an area of 12,000 square meters, the date of opening is 2005.

The complex is decorated in the style of ancient Troy, everywhere you can see ancient weapons, armor, amphorae and columns. This water park is more suitable for adults and children over 10 years old, because there are 15 slides for adults, including very steep, and many other attractions. The little ones have not been forgotten either, there is a small pool with slides, designed in the form of a ship. There are constantly shows for all ages, everyone will find something to their taste.

12. Bishop’s Palace and Basilica

If you walk from the Agora Side to the east you can see the former bishop’s palace and the basilica, built in the sixth century AD in Byzantine style. The early Christian basilica consists of several rooms connected by corridors, with a unique triangular altar in the central room. The palace was connected with the basilica by a tomb, forming a single religious complex…

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