Blaundos: why you shouldn’t label it ‘Stonehenge of Anatolia’

Blaundos ancient city benefits from a spectacular location, in a horseshoe bend perched atop a hill, surrounded on three sides by the Grand Uşak-Ulubey Canyon. It is relatively unknown, but those who know about it have probably seen pictures of the striking ruins often referred to as the Stonehenge of Anatolia.

While we can see why one would label the public building ruins at Blaundos this way, it’s quite far from being true! Ironically, you could state there is a link if you consider that Stonehenge is said to be built by Anatolian farmers, but that’s as close as it gets. Stonehenge’s purpose remains subject for debate up until today. Still, scientists agree that its function must have been either as an astronomical observatory or a religious or healing site, as well as a burial place.

The ancient city of Blaundos was none of those, though it features the largest known rock-tomb necropolis in Anatolia. It was a city founded as a military colony for Macedonian soldiers in the Seleucid army. Today, it is an active excavation site where new structures are unearthed regularly, making this a promising site to revisit from time to time. We’ll show you what to expect from this fascinating ancient site in this post.

The Striking Ruins Of The Public Building At Blaundos

The Striking Ruins Of The Public Building At Blaundos

Blaundos: the history behind its Macedonian connection

There was a settlement in Blaundos long before Macedonians ever set foot on the Acropolis. Its name dates back to the Luwian language, used by one of the oldest people known to live in Anatolia. But it isn’t until the Hellenistic period that the urbanization of Blaundos gained momentum. After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, the area first came under the rule of Antigonos Monophthalmos, the late Emperor’s Macedonian commander, followed by Lysimachos.

Arriving At The City Gate With The City In The Background

Arriving At The City Gate With The City In The Background

After the Battle of Kurupedion, near Sardis, the Seleucids dominated the area from 281 BC until the Apamea treaty in 188 BC. It is then that the city as we know it today was founded on an existing fortress, as a military colony for Macedonian soldiers in the Seleucid army. The cities’ coins carried the inscription ‘Blaundeon Makedonon’, just like the writing on one of the stone pillars in the Bath Building, a magnificent discovery announced in November 2020.

Click here to find out more about Sardis

Detail Of An Inscribed Stone At The Bath House With Blaundon Makedoneon Inscribed

Detail Of An Inscribed Stone At The Bath House With Blaundon Makedoneon Inscribed

After the Apamea peace treaty, Blaundos is integrated into the Kingdom of Pergamon before becoming one of the cities of the Roman province of Asia in 133 BC. Around that time, in the 1st century AD, it knows its most prosperous time. Many of the structures you’ll see in Blaundos today are from that period, particularly after the 60 AD earthquake.

Roman Bath And City Gate At Blaundos

Roman Bath And City Gate At Blaundos

Up until the 4th century AD, large-scale architectural projects continued, and the city had its own coins. During the Byzantine Period, more buildings were built, mostly unimportant structures re-using elements from older, Roman Period structures. From the 9th till the 12th century, Blaundos’ population decreased until it was eventually abandoned to be rediscovered by travelers around 1833 – 1835.

Picture Of An Old Etching At The Entrance Of The City

Picture Of An Old Etching At The Entrance Of The City

In 1995, a team from the Uşak Museum Directorate conducted the first excavation program in Blaundos, followed by more extensive surveys between 1999 – 2002. Since 2018, the city’s excavation and restoration programs are ongoing, and archaeologists are working here all year.

Archeologist At Work At The Bath Building

Archeologist At Work At The Bath Building

A few of Blaundos’ landmarks

Blaundos welcomes you with a few striking landmarks and structures, even before you have reached the city gate. Some of those ruins require quite a bit of imagination to picture them; others, like the last remaining arch of the Aquaduct, draw the attention right away. The Aqueduct was built to provide for the water needs of the city. While Blaundos was surrounded by the Hippurios river back in the days, the water supply came from springs near Inay village, some 8 km away. The arch at the entrance of Blaundos is the only arch of the Aqueduct that survived, but you will find more traces of it along the entire route.

Opposite the arch lies the ruin of the Heroon. This Monumental Tomb dating back to the second half of the 1st century AD must have belonged to a notable citizen of Blaundos. It was elaborately decorated, but nowadays, only the footprint remains.

Local Cows Exploring The Last Remaining Arch Of The Aqueduct At Blaundos

Local Cows Exploring The Last Remaining Arch Of The Aqueduct At Blaundos

If you want to attempt to visit Blaundos’ Necropolis, this is where you need to start. With your back towards the Aqueduct arch, walk past the Heroon in the direction of the valley. You’ll notice that the slopes surrounding the valley – and by extension, the entire city – were used as a burial site. Blaundos is said to be the largest rock-cut tomb Necropolis in Anatolia, with many of the tombs still well-preserved.

Unfortunately, the ones that are easily accessible were damaged by looters; others still feature floral and figurative polychromic paintings on their white-plastered walls. The tombs were family mausolea with niches and arcosolium sarcophagi. We were unable to reach those safely, but there is a plan to make the Necropolis more easily accessible to visitors in the future. If you want to get a good overview of the Necropolis’ proportions, continue your journey towards the city gate area from where you have a good viewpoint.

Part Of The Necropolis At Blaundos

Part Of The Necropolis At Blaundos

At the highest point of Blaundos, just before the city gate, lies what remains of the Northern Temple. The Temple used to have a large courtyard with a monumental entrance to the south, surrounded by colonnaded galleries on four sides. But today, it isn’t the Northern Temple that catches your eyes upon arrival; it’s the monumental city gate. It was an arched and towered gate built during the Hellenistic Period and rebuilt in the Roman Era with several additions. The city gate of Blaundos may not be its best-known landmark; it is the best-preserved.

Welcome To Blaundos

Welcome To Blaundos

The Well Preserved City Gate

The Well Preserved City Gate

Right after you enter the city are the Stadium’s remains, with the ruins of the un-excavated Theater on the slope below it. The Stadium was built in the 1st century AD and was relatively short – only 140  meters long – with spectators seats across the western edge. But the new gem of Blaundos is undoubtedly the discovery of a Roman Bath near the Stadium terrace. The section of the Bath that is currently being excavated, is the hot section. Archaeologists have uncovered and documented the heating system, which has subsequently been covered again. Research indicates that the Bath Building was constructed with marble from the local quarries.

Click here to see photos of the heating system and other excavations taken by the Archaeology Department of the University of Uşak.

Inscription At Blaundos' Bath House

Inscription At Blaundos’ Bath House

Past the Baths and the Stadium is another Temple. The Southern Temple, dedicated to Demeter, was a Temple of Ionic order, built around 50 AD. It was located in a large courtyard and entered via a Propylon from the main street. Not a lot is left of the Temple of Demeter, but there is a lot of activity around the Temple and the Colonnaded Street, so things may start to look different soon! Only a few columns of the Doric Portico of the Colonnaded Street have survived, enough to give you a glimpse of what once was.

Colonnaded Street In Blaundos

Colonnaded Street In Blaundos

Colonnaded Street Area In Blaundos

Colonnaded Street Area In Blaundos

To the south of the Colonnaded Street was a Basilica followed by a Public Building, the remains of which are now the most iconic image of the ancient city of Blaundos. This is the part of the site that people tend to label the Stonehenge of Anatolia. There may be a small resemblance from afar, but, in reality, there is no comparison. Blaundos deserves a title of its own, as we strongly believe that this active excavation site still holds many surprises. Even in its current largely unexcavated state, Blaundos is well worth a visit, if only because of its spectacular location and to see the archaeologists at work.

Playing With Dimensions And Perspective At Blaundos

Playing With Dimensions And Perspective At Blaundos

When Ruins Become Art

When Ruins Become Art

Final thoughts on visiting Blaundos

The ancient city of Blaundos is a great place to visit and easy to combine with other stops nearby, such as the glass observation terrace at Ulubey Canyon or Clandras Bridge. The site is well signposted and easily accessible by car. There is no public transportation to Blaundos, so if you don’t have a car, you’ll need to get a taxi to get there.

Officially, there are opening and closing times at Blaundos. Still, it is a public secret that the site is well-loved by astrophotographers. The authorities respect that, as long as you respect the cultural heritage and the natural surroundings. There are no on-site facilities, so carry enough water, something to protect you from the sun, and wear sturdy shoes, especially if you intend to wander a bit further afield.

Click here to see a great & charming place to stay near Blaundos on a map
Little Is Left Still Standing Of The Public Building

Little Is Left Still Standing Of The Public Building

✔️ Have you been to Blaundos? Then please head over to our Turkey Trip Planner to leave a review. Alternatively, if you plan on visiting, you can add the site to your bucket list.
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Blaundos: Why You Shouldn't Label It 'stonehenge Of Anatolia'
Blaundos: Why You Shouldn't Label It 'stonehenge Of Anatolia'
Blaundos: Why You Shouldn't Label It 'stonehenge Of Anatolia'
Blaundos: Why You Shouldn't Label It 'stonehenge Of Anatolia'
Blaundos: Why You Shouldn't Label It 'stonehenge Of Anatolia'

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Blaundos: why you shouldn\'t label it \'Stonehenge of Anatolia\'