I spent most of yesterday at Knidos, an impressive ancient city at the furthest tip of the Datça Peninsula. Part of Turkey’s Carian Trail, the site is incredibly beautiful, and was a very special experience! Mesmerized, I wanted to stay.
Major agricultural products on Turkey’s fertile Datça Peninsula are almonds, honey, and olives. The area is rich in honeybees, and the bushes were thick with buzzing bees busy pollinating. The day was slightly overcast but warm, and a brief rain shower created a sweet fragrance in the air – an exotic mixture of wild flowers, lavender, sage, carob, olive trees, yellow broom, and wild thyme. A dazzling field of blood-red corn poppies against white daisies was stunning!
Knidos is a popular site among archaeologists and considered an “advanced city” in terms of science, architecture, and arts. Technical publications have been written about the historical significance of the ruins.
“Former residents include mathematician and sundial inventor Euryphon, physician Polygnotos, astrologists, and artist / architect Sostratus. Sostratus built the Lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.”
Ancient City Layout
To reach the entrance, you walk down a road lined with groves of beautiful olive and almond trees. It’s early spring, so the nuts won’t be ripe and ready to harvest for a few months, but my guide and I picked and ate a few green almonds. Turkish people say eating green almonds is good for your health.
Partially intact ancient stone walls surround Knidos 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 located 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 cross a flat area running east to west, and steep streets with stairs run north to south.“
Theatres and Temples
Knidos had two major theatres, one with a seating capacity of 20,000, the other 5,000. The smaller theatre is to the south near the inner port, and the larger one is north at the top near the acropolis. Little trace of either theatre remains today, since most of the marble and stone used to build them was removed during the 19th century.
The circular Temple of Aphrodite overlooks both ports and is the most beautiful part of Knidos. The famous statue of Goddess Aphrodite was in the center of the temple with doors opening towards the beautiful sculpture. Today, you can only see the bottom plinth of the statue.
The remains of a sundial 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 later converted to a Christian church.” The church’s colourful mosaic floors are still partially visible.
“Excavations 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 a museum at the entrance to Knidos.
I’d like to return to Knidos and spend more time there. 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 absorb during a single visit!