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Aizanoi - Ancient City in Turkiye - Day Trip from Istanbul

Aizanoi, TurkiyeThe city of Aizanoi (Ancient Greek: Αἰζανοί) was the main settlement of the Aizanitis people living in ancient Phrygia.

In the excavations carried out around the Temple of Zeus, located on the high plateau of the city, it was seen that traces of a settlement dating back to 3,000 BC had been discovered.

During the Hellenistic Period, this region was subordinate to Pergamum and Bithynia alternately, but in 133 BC it came under Roman rule.

In Aizanoi, the economy prospered due to grain cultivation, growing wine-making grapes, and wool production during the Roman imperial period.

The areas reputation exceeded the borders of the region, but definitive evidence of urbanization can only be found towards the end of the 1st century BC. It is also known that the first coins were minted during this period.

The ancient city was at it's zenith in the 2nd century AD, as major construction activities and many buildings were built in this period.

While it was a bishopric center in the Early Byzantine Period, it lost its importance as of the 7th century.

Aizanoi, TurkiyeThe temple plain was converted into a fortress in the Middle Ages and it was renamed Çavdarhisar because it was used as a base by the Çavdar Tatars during the Selcuk Period.

Aizanoi was rediscovered by European travelers in 1824 who studied and described it in the 1830s through the 1840s.

In 1926, the first excavations were carried out by the German Archaeological Institute under the direction of M. Schede and D. Krencker. Excavations have continually been carried out regularly every year since 1970.

Among the ruins, the Temple of Zeus - the best preserved in Anatolia, the theater - having a capacity of 15 thousand people and the stadium - having a capacity of 13,500 people adjacent to the theater, two baths, the world's first commercial exchange building, a columned street and five bridges over Kocaçay - two of which have survived.

In addition there are two agora, a gymnasium, a Meter Steunene sanctuary, necropolises, an ancient embankment, waterways and gate structures. The ancient city of Aizanoi is contemporary with cities such as Ephesus, Bergama and Side.

Aizanoi, Latinized as Aezani, was an Ancient Greek city in western Anatolia. Located in what is now Çavdarhisar, near Kütahya, its ruins are situated astride the River Penkalas, some 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above sea level.

Aizanoi, TurkiyeThe city was an important political and economic centre in Roman times; surviving remains from the period include a well-preserved Temple of Zeus, unusual combined theatre-stadium complex, and macellum inscribed with the Price Edict of Diocletian.

The city fell into decline in late antiquity. Later serving as a citadel, in 2012 the site was submitted for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Settlement in the area is known to have originated from the Bronze Age. The city may have derived its name from Azan, one of three sons of Arcas and the nymph Erato, legendary ancestors of the Phrygians.

During the Hellenistic period the city changed hands between the Kingdom of Pergamum and the Kingdom of Bithynia, before being bequeathed to Rome by the former in 133 BC.

It continued to mint its own coins. Its monumental buildings date from the early Empire to the 3rd century.

Aezani was part of the Roman province of Phrygia Pacatiana. It became a Christian bishopric at an early stage, and its bishop Pisticus was a participant at the First Council of Nicaea, the first ecumenical council, in 325.

Pelagius was at a synod that Patriarch John II of Constantinople hastily organized in 518 and that condemned Severus of Antioch; he was also at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553.

Aizanoi, TurkiyeGregory was at the Trullan Council of 692, John at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, and Theophanes at both the Council of Constantinople in 869, and the Council of Constantinople in 879.

The bishopric was at first a suffragan of Laodicea but, when Phrygia Pacatiana was divided into two provinces, it found itself a suffragan of Hierapolis, the capital of the new province of Phrygia Pacatiana II.

No longer a residential bishopric, Aezani is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.

After the 7th century, Aezani fell into decline. Later, in Selcuk times, the temple hill was converted into a citadel by Çavdar Tatars, after which the recent settlement of Çavdarhisar is named.

During Selcuq Empire period it was called as Çavdarhisar due to the fact that Çavdar Tatars used this region as a base in the 13thcentury.

In January 2021, archaeologists led by Dr. Elif Özer from Pamukkale University announced that they had discovered a cache containing 651 Roman coins dated about 2,100 years ago in a jug buried near a stream.

Researchers revealed a jug firstly in 2019. 439 pieces of coins were denarius (ancient Roman coins minted on silver), and 212 were cistophori, silver coins from Pergamum.

Aizanoi, TurkiyeCaesar, Brutus, Mark Antony and Augustus Young are engraved on the mostly well-preserved coins. These are going to display in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

In August 2021, archaeologists from Dumlupinar University announced the discovery of statue of Hygieia. Human sized statue has portrayed with a snake in its arms. The statue was revealed inside the columned gallery throughout the south wing of the agora.

The Temple of Zeus, situated upon a hill, was the city's main sanctuary. Ceramic finds indicate local habitation from the first half of the third millennium BC.

Aizanoi's theatre and stadium are built adjacent to each other and this combined complex is said to be unique in the ancient world.

According to a recent reading of the architrave inscription, construction of the temple began under Domitian. Inscriptions document imperial assistance from Hadrian relating to the recovery of unpaid rents as well as the euergetism of Marcus Apuleius Eurykles.

Separating the two is the stage building. Construction began after 160 A.D. and was complete by the mid-third century. Inscriptions again attest to the benefaction of M. Apuleius Eurycles.

Two sets of thermae have been identified. The first, between the theatre-stadium and the temple, dates to the second half of the second century and includes a palaestra and marble furnishings.

Aizanoi, TurkiyeThe second, in the north-east of the city, was built a century later; floor mosaics depict a satyr and maenad. It was rebuilt a couple of centuries later and it served as the bishop's seat.

Aizanoi is the first recorded place in the world where inflation was calculated and from there spread to other cities of the Roman Empire.

A circular macellum dating to the second half of the second century is located in the south. In the fourth century it was inscribed with a copy of the Price Edict of Diocletian, dating to 301, an attempt to limit inflation resulting from debasement of the coinage.

Recent excavations have revealed the existence of a stoa, or covered walkway, dating to ca. 400 AD, and colonnaded street. A Temple of Artemis, dating to the time of Claudius (41-54), was demolished to make way for the colonnaded street which ran for 450 metres (1,480 ft) and led to the sanctuary of Meter Steunene.

A deep tunnel inside a cave, now collapsed, was dedicated to Meter Steunene - an Anatolian Earth Mother goddess. Cult figurines made of clay have been found in excavations, along with two round pits apparently used for animal sacrifice.

The city's large necropolis includes examples of door-shaped Phrygian tombstones. Inscriptions give the names of deceased or donors; accompanying decoration includes, for the tombs of men, bulls, lions and eagles, and for those of women, baskets of wool and a mirror.

Aizanoi, TurkiyeSome items from Aizanoi, among them a sarcophagus with an Amazonomachy, have been removed to the Archaeological Museum of Kütahya.

Later the Çavdar Tatars carved equestrian and battle scenes on the temple. The temple is pseudodipteral, with eight columns at the ends and fifteen along the sides (35 m × 53 m )(115 ft × 174 ft) It was damaged by the 1970 Gediz earthquake and has since been restored.

Çavdarhisar is a Central Anatolian village of 2400 people, set in a kilometre-high plateau surrounded by the mountains southwest of Kütahya.

It is a very good reason to plan a visit to this rermarkable plave - the Roman city of Aizanoi, the ruins of which are scattered around and throughout the village.

Since the days of the Roman Empire and for much of the rest of the history, Aizanoi was all but forgotten except by the locals, until the early 19th century.

If you had the chance to see Dirilis: Ertugrul on NetFlix - a Turkish drama about the founders of the Ottoman Empire - in the story it depicts an alliance of the Kayi and Çavdar tribes in Anatolia.

The same Çavdar's that occupied these Çavdarhisar ruins back in the 13th Century.

To visit this historically rich destination it is likely best to do so by day-tripping from Kütahya - or even from Eskişehir, a little further away.

Start early if you intend to also meander around Kütahya a little bit. This is perfectly feasible, and indeed rather popular day trip. If for some reason you wish to stay longer in Çavdarhisar, there is a single hotel.

Aizanoi, TurkiyeBut, a single day is sufficient to see the ruins in Çavdarhisar.

Stay in Kütahya or Eskişehir and take a minibus to Çavdarhisar after breakfast and bring along a sack-lunch - as there is little in the way of restaurants in Çavdarhisar.

By bus from the Otogar you can get a bus that will take you to Kütahya from Istanbul in about 4hours and 45minutes.

By rental car from Istanbul you can go to Kütahya in a little less than 4 hours. (205 miles) via the D100.

Once in Kütahya it is a 25 kilometer minibus ride to Çavdarhisar. (22 minutes)

UNESCO website

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