Alabanda: countryside meets ancient site

Alabanda is a lesser-known ancient site located in Araphısar, a hamlet near the village of Doğanyurt, not too far from Çine. This is a place where the current village has been built on top of the ruins. Sometimes, people used parts of those ruins in the newer constructions. The result is a healthy mixture of authentic Turkish village life, cows included, with some quite impressive remains and ruins. The setting is rural and peaceful, and you’ll find information boards with explanations in English about the history of the structures and buildings. Alabanda has some pleasant surprises too! Even after we’d done our pre-visit research, we still ‘discovered’ some unexpected finds such as a Classical Chamber Tomb, or the spectacular clay water pipes in the Agora. Take a tour around this beautiful site in this post.

Theatre Setting At Alabanda

Theatre Setting At Alabanda

Alabanda in history

Just like many other ancient cities, Alabanda held a strategic position on an important road: the customs road from Lycia to Ionia. Strabo named the city together with Mylasa and Stratonikeia, another site we truly love. But the earliest mentions of Alabanda are found in Hittite sources, where the city appears at Waliwanda. Alabanda was founded in the 4th century BC and already an important settlement in the second millennium BC. Legend has it that the ‘current’ name Alabanda is derived from the combination of the Carian words for horse (ala), and victory (banda). But as with all legends, there are other versions of the story and different studies contradicting each other. Alternative theories for the origin of its name are those of the Luwian language where Alabanda would then mean ‘with horse stables’. Finally, some sources claim the city was settled by Alabandos, the son of the Carian hero Euhippos. Regardless of who is right, you won’t find any horses or horse stables in Alabanda today, nor any sign of Alabandos for that matter.

The Pace Of Life At Alabanda

The Pace Of Life At Alabanda

The city was a member of the Chrysaorian League in the early Seleucid period before it was captured by Philip V of Macedon in 201 BC. Shortly after the Battle of Magnesia in 190 BC, the Romans occupied the city only to see it fall into the hands of the Parthian army, who stripped it of its treasures. Still, under the Roman Empire, the city flourished and minted its own coins. Later, during the Byzantine Empire, the city was a bishopric.

Detail Of A Column At The Theatre

Detail Of A Column At The Theatre

Alabanda’s landmarks

When you read about this site online, you always get the feeling that it is nothing special. And while it may not be mind-blowingly spectacular, it deserves a visit. Researchers and archaeologists are working hard to uncover and reconstruct the cities’ past. The beautifully reconstructed staging area at the Theatre or the uncovered Classical Chamber Tomb, are just a few of the features that make your visit interesting. Take a tour with us!

The Agora

It is difficult to grasp what the size of the Agora at Alabanda must have felt like before it fell to pieces. Research on site shows that the Agora measured 110 x 73 m, and had an Ionic Stoa surrounding the southwest entrance. Nowadays, the area is mostly a compilation of stones, columns, rubble, and olive trees. But in between all that is an area that reveals the clever water piping system below the Agora floor and a small section where the antique floor tiles are put back in place. Sometimes, little things like these are enough to leave a big impression.

The Fascinating Agora At Alabanda

The Fascinating Agora At Alabanda

Water Pipes At Alabanda's Agora

Water Pipes At Alabanda’s Agora

The Bouleuterion

Next to the Agora, you’ll find the Bouleuterion or Council House. This Hellenistic era construction measures around 36 x 26 m. The north and south walls are well-preserved, with the south-facing front wall still of 9,14m. Inside, virtually everything has collapsed, apart from a few front-row seats. Luckily, there is enough left still standing to give you a good idea of what the building must have looked like in its heydays.

Bouleuterion In Sight

Bouleuterion In Sight

Inside The Bouleuterion At Alabanda

Inside The Bouleuterion At Alabanda

The Central Bath

Most of what remains of the Central Baths is still underground. The bath complex dates back to the Roman Imperial Period and consisted of a Frigidarium (cold bath), Tepidarium (warm bath), and Caldarium (hot bath). The longest wall of the building was 69m long. Today, only the upper parts and arches of some of the walls are visible.

That Is An Impressive Arch!

That Is An Impressive Arch!

What Remains Of The Central Baths

What Remains Of The Central Baths

The Classical Chamber Tomb

One of the highlights of our visit, and a total surprise: the Classical Chamber Tomb. This Chamber Tomb is located rather inconspicuously amidst the meadows to the north of the ancient city. The monumental tomb is built on bedrock and has a main room that is 2,70m high, measuring 2,43 x 2,53 m. Before entering the main room, you access an entry room with two seating areas on each side. This Classical Chamber Tomb is remarkably well-preserved, and its interior was cleaned during excavation works in 2011.

Inside The Classic Chamber Tomb At Alabanda

Inside The Classic Chamber Tomb At Alabanda

Entrance To The Classic Chamber Tomb

Entrance To The Classic Chamber Tomb

The Temple of Zeus Chrysaoreus

You’ll find what is left of the Temple of Zeus Chrysaoreus at about 200 northwest of the Theatre. You can consult a detailed report on the excavation works on the temple here. The temple of Doric order was dedicated to Zeus, a cult God at Alabanda. It is said that columns from the temple were used to reconstruct parts of the stage building of the nearby Theatre in the 4th century AD.

What Remains Of The Temple Of Zeus Chrysaoreus In Alabanda

What Remains Of The Temple Of Zeus Chrysaoreus In Alabanda

Temple Of Zeus Chrysaoreus

Temple Of Zeus Chrysaoreus

The Theatre

The Theatre is undoubtedly the largest structure still standing today. Built on a natural slope during the Hellenistic period, it features 20 seating rows. Over time, some alterations were made, and the skene building was repaired with blocks from the Temple of Zeus. The Theatre was in use for about 600 years but fell into ruin during the Byzantine Period.

A Spectacular View Of The Theatre

A Spectacular View Of The Theatre

That Little House At The End Has Quite The View!

That Little House At The End Has Quite The View!

We're Absolutely Fascinated By The Stage Building In Alabanda

We’re Absolutely Fascinated By The Stage Building In Alabanda

Other landmarks at Alabanda

Walking around Alabanda, you’ll also notice a few necropoles, the remains of the city walls and watchtowers on the hills, and the ruins of another temple: the Temple of Apollo Isotimos. Near the entrance of the site, you’ll see what is left of the Byzantine fortification walls. All in all, Alabanda is a lovely place to visit. Consider combining it with nearby Alında, which we will cover in another post soon. For more practical information to prepare your visit, head over to the tabs below this post.

Necropolis At Alabanda

Necropolis At Alabanda

Welcome To Alabanda

Welcome To Alabanda

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Entrance to Alabanda is free of charge. Bear in mind that there are no facilities on-site. Carry plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes, and bring something to protect you from the heat and the sun.

Are you interested in what other travelers think of Alabanda? Check out these reviews on TripAdvisor to find out! Just know we visit each place personally and all photos are our own. So, basically, what you see is what you get. If you have any questions about a place, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Now that you’re here, make sure to check out nearby Alında as well. Yes, another ancient site, but with a very different feel to it. We promise you won’t regret it!

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Why not do something extra special and rent a 4×4 camper truck to explore the area? It will be the experience of a lifetime! Check out this Toyota Hilux Campervan on AirBnb here.

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Entrance to Alabanda is free of charge. Bear in mind that there are no facilities on-site. Carry plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes, and bring something to protect you from the heat and the sun.

Are you interested in what other travelers think of Alabanda? Check out these reviews on TripAdvisor to find out! Just know we visit each place personally and all photos are our own. So, basically, what you see is what you get. If you have any questions about a place, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Now that you’re here, make sure to check out nearby Alında as well. Yes, another ancient site, but with a very different feel to it. We promise you won’t regret it!

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Why not do something extra special and rent a 4×4 camper truck to explore the area? It will be the experience of a lifetime! Check out this Toyota Hilux Campervan on AirBnb here.

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

Work with us

Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

Ask a traveler

Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

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#Alabanda is just lying there in between the village & the meadows: modest & grand at the same time. Discover its grand theatre & intriguing chamber tombs! #Turkey - Check out this virtually unknown site and its hidden gems in this post!