I spent most of yesterday at Knidos, an impressive ancient city along the coast at the furthest tip of the Datça Peninsula and part of the Carian Trail. The site is incredibly beautiful and was a very special experience! Mesmerized by the place, I didn’t want to leave.
The day was slightly overcast but warm. A light rain shower brought out the heavenly fragrance of the landscape – including a mixture of wild flowers, sage, lavender, carob and olive trees, yellow broom, and wild thyme. A green field full of blood-red corn poppies and white daisies was stunning. The area is rich in honeybees and the bushes were thick with them busy pollinating. The major agricultural products on the Datça Peninsula are honey, almonds, and olives.
Knidos is popular among archaeologists. There are many technical publications about the historical significance of the ruins. Knidos was an “advanced city” in terms of science, architecture, and arts.
“Former residents of Knidos include Rukoksus, the famous astrologist, mathematician, and sundial inventor, Euryphon, the physician, Polygnotos, the famed artist, and Sostratus, the renowned architect who built the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.”
To reach the entrance, you walk down a road lined with beautiful almond and olive tree groves. We picked and ate a few green almonds. The Turkish say eating green almonds is good for your health. The nuts will be ripe and ready to harvest in a few more months. Partially intact ancient stone walls surround the site with sea coves to the north and south and an old museum near the entrance. Built where the Aegean Sea ends and the Mediterranean Sea begins, one side of the peninsula is windy, the other calm.
Knidos included military and commercial ports and an acropolis. “The private buildings were on the part of the peninsula that divided the inner and outer ports. The hills rise over the inner commercial port towards the acropolis. Four main streets crossed a flat area running east to west and steep streets with stairs ran north to south.“
Knidos had two major theatres, one with the capacity to seat 20,000 people and the other 5,000. The smaller one is to the south near the inner port and the larger one is north near the acropolis at the top. Little trace of either theatre remains today since most of the marble and stone used to build them was removed during the 19th century.
A circular Temple of Aphrodite overlooking both ports is the most beautiful part of the ancient city of Knidos. The famous statue of Goddess Aphrodite was in the center of the temple with doors opening towards the beautiful statue. Now you can only see the bottom plinth of the statue.
The remains of a sundial used for measuring the seasons are another interesting find at Knidos. “Architect Sostratus built a Corinthian style Temple of Apollon on top of the hill where the city rises to a theatre.”
“On the terrace in the road leading to the Temple of Apollon there was a Doric temple that was later converted to an early Christian church. Today, you can still partly see the church’s colourful mosaic floors.”
“Excavations that started in 1996 uncovered one-third of the 3rd century BC buildings constructed by the famous architect Sostratus.” Finds from the excavations are on display in the museum at the entrance to Knidos.
I’d like to return to Knidos and spend more time there. Thankfully land development is not allowed but there’s a small marina in one bay. Knidos has a soft but mysterious aura – there’s too much magic to take in during a single visit!