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Oinoanda and its 80x4m inscription with the secret to happiness

What if there was a simple way to to find out how te be happy? This used to be the case in Oinoanda, (or Oenoanda depending on the source) in south-western Turkey. Used to be? So, there’s no use in visiting now? Sure there is! You may not find much of the inscription, but there are plenty of other features at Oinoanda that are bound to make you happy. Take a tour with us in this post.

The Arches Of The So-Called Library

The Arches Of The So-Called Library

Oinoanda: the historical context

Oinoanda was strategically located, 1.400m high on a hilltop overlooking the Lycian plains below. Contrary to nearby Termessos, the Lycians & Psidians at Oinoanda were conquered by Alexander the Great, and the Persian influence made room for Hellenization. After Alexander the Great passed away, the whole of Lycia was added to the Hellenistic Attalid Kingdom, and later to the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire.

On The Way Up, Do Look Down To Get A Glimpse Of The Village Below

On The Way Up, Do Look Down To Get A Glimpse Of The Village Below

Thistle Meets Antiquity

Thistle Meets Antiquity

Diogenes of Oinoanda & the secret to happiness

Oinoanda was home to Diogenes, a wealthy philosopher who – before he died – spent his entire fortune on an Epicurean inscription on a wall near the portico of the city. To date, it is the most significant find in this ancient city and said to be the largest ancient inscription ever discovered. Depending on the source, the estimated dimensions of the inscribed wall vary between at least 65 to 80m wide, and at least 3,25m heigh. Its surface of around 260m2 contained an estimate of 25.000 words. The inscription included a series of instructions, letters, and epitomes describing the main principles of Epicureanism, the philosophy that made Diogenes happy. If you’re wondering what Epicureanism is all about, the video below explains it quite nicely.

With the building of the wall, Diogenes hoped to leave a legacy for generations to come, and to help people achieve the same level of happiness he had. The wall was built around 120 AD, and it is unsure how long it was visible. It may have been destroyed by natural causes, like an earthquake, or it was ruined deliberately. In any case, the blocks containing the inscription were later reused as a building material all over the city. The inscription fell into oblivion – as did the rest of the city – after it was abandoned, probably in the 9th century.

Fragment 30 Of Diogenes Inscribed Wall At Oinoanda

Fragment 30 Of Diogenes Inscribed Wall At Oinoanda

Things changed when two French scholars found a few fragments of the inscription in 1884, and research began. About a decade later, Austrian researches continued the study but discontinued their work at the beginning of the 20th century. After that, between the 1960s and the 1990s British investigations started, followed by German-British joint investigations by Hammerstaedt and Smith. In the video below Martin Ferguson Smith explain how he sees the inscription of Diogenes at Oinoanda as a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

Over the years, new fragments of inscribed wall-pieces were found and analyzed. Fast-forward to the last two decades, when a team from the German Archaeological Institute continues to work at Oinoanda using modern methods to discover the pieces of the puzzle that are still missing. Apart from a few days in 1997, the Turkish authorities never permitted to excavate at Oinoanda. This probably accounts for the current state of Oinoanda, and it explains why only a fraction of the wall-pieces has been found. Click here if you’re interested in reading a translation of the inscription containing the key to happiness according to Diogenes and Epicureanism.

Not Too Hard To See The Path!

Not Too Hard To See The Path!

Rock Cut Tomb Above The Theatre

Rock Cut Tomb Above The Theatre

Oinoanda today

Visiting Oinoanda today takes a bit of an effort, yet another reason why this site probably remained under the radar for so long. Accessing this place, and even walking around the site, is only possible if you’re fit, and you have no mobility issues. The hike is short in distance, but steep and on rough terrain. When you finally arrive, it won’t be the views alone that leave you breathless! You’ll find the site not too far off the main Fethiye – Antalya road, in the direction of Seki, near the village of İncealiler. This is rural Turkey at its best; it doesn’t get more authentic than this. Once you’re at the village, the way to the site is waymarked up to a certain point. In any case, at one point you will have to leave your car behind and walk the last 500m. If you have difficulties finding the path, check out the map below, where we’ve marked the hike up to the site.

Keep Your Eyes On The Path When Hiking, But Also On The Scene Around You To Spot This Sarcophagus

Keep Your Eyes On The Path When Hiking, But Also On The Scene Around You To Spot This Sarcophagus

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Take the path to the right of the Oinoanda sign and follow the trail. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the view from time to time! Though we fear you will do this eventually if only to catch your breath. Once on-site, take your time to have a look around. There’s nothing much to guide you apart from a rather arty city-plan on the steel shed. And large parts of the site are only accessible after conquering a pile of stone or some dense forest vegetation. Still, if you ask us, it is worth it. Oinoanda delivers an experience as only a few sites do. You get to witness quite a few larger structures that are still standing amongst an otherwise virtually untouched site. Yes, you’ll need to use your imagination, your hiking skills, and your sense of direction, but for that, you get a lot of ‘adventurer-feeling’ in return.

The Path To Oinoanda

The Path To Oinoanda

On The Way Up Or Down, You'll See This Beauty

On The Way Up Or Down, You’ll See This Beauty

A few of the main landmarks

In between all the rubble and vegetation, you’ll find a few distinctive landmarks from Oinoanda’s heydays that are still standing.

The Agora

The Agora (some source also call it the Esplanade) is a substantial stretch of marble floor that is partially overgrown and surrounded by forest and rubble. It is a beautiful part of the site where you can sit in the shade wondering about how this place must have looked like some 2.000 odd years ago. Head to the top of the hill west of the Agora to enjoy an excellent view of the Eşen stream lake below. All around you’ll see fallen pillars and pillar heads, inscribed columns and other relics that are more difficult to identify with an untrained eye.

The Agora Or Esplanade

The Agora Or Esplanade

The Agora, Impressive, Right?

The Agora, Impressive, Right?

The (so-called) Library

Without any information board on-site, you’re pretty much left to guesswork when trying to figure out what you’re looking at. These distinct arches were referred to as the so-called Library by some sources, but this could easily be the remnants of a different structure.

Works Were Carried Out At The So-Called Library

Works Were Carried Out At The So-Called Library

The So-Called Library Arches Seen From Behind, Looking Towards The Bath Complex

The So-Called Library Arches Seen From Behind, Looking Towards The Bath Complex

The Thermal Baths

The Thermal Baths are now not much more than a few still standing walls and arches. The arches are, once again, living proof of how solid this type of construction is. The better part of the Bath Complex lies under your feet, but that is all part of the Oinoanda experience!

One Of The Thermal Bath Arches At Golden Hour

One Of The Thermal Bath Arches At Golden Hour

Part Of The Thermal Bath Complex At Oinoanda

Part Of The Thermal Bath Complex At Oinoanda

The Theatre

You don’t need a guidebook to figure out which building is the Theatre at Oinoanda. Perched higher up on the hill, it overlooks the valley the area and offers stunning views of the Taurus mountain range.

Overview Of The Theatre

Overview Of The Theatre

On Top Of The World At Oinoanda

On Top Of The World At Oinoanda

The City Walls

The massive City Walls, together with the relatively inaccessible location, were the protectors of the city for a very long time during its history. Even today, when most of the city lies in ruins, large stretches of the walls are still proudly standing.

Part Of Oinoanda's City Wall

Part Of Oinoanda’s City Wall

The Beauty Of Decay At Oinoanda

The Beauty Of Decay At Oinoanda

In short, if you love untouched, remote and off the beaten path places, Oinoanda is a site to consider. A word of warning: don’t attempt to visit this place if you have mobility issues; it simply won’t work. All it takes is to have a good look at our photos to see that this is rough terrain, not to mention the steep climb you need to undertake to get there. If, however, your physical condition allows it, then visit. Look at it as if it were a hike with a bonus. If you have walking sticks, bring them, they’ll come in handy during the descent.

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Usually, this is where we post TripAdvisor reviews, but it seems that Oinoanda hasn’t quite gotten any attention on the platform yet. It is mentioned once, in this review about Limyra. Here’s what you need to know:

  • wear sturdy shoes
  • don’t go if you’re not in top shape
  • there are no facilities on site, so carry plenty of water and take some food
  • use our map of the hike as a guide, you can download it

More questions? 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! 😉

Take your time and enjoy this piece of virtually untouched territory. Also, keep your eyes open for the lovely restored old bridge when you leave the main Fethiye – Antalya road at the Seki junction. You’ll find it under the ‘one-for-the-road-section’ of our interactive map of 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! 😉

There are not a lot of places to spend the night in the area, unless you’re into wild-camping. Near nearby Girdev Lake you will find accommodation.

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! 😉

Usually, this is where we post TripAdvisor reviews, but it seems that Oinoanda hasn’t quite gotten any attention on the platform yet. It is mentioned once, in this review about Limyra. Here’s what you need to know:

  • wear sturdy shoes
  • don’t go if you’re not in top shape
  • there are no facilities on site, so carry plenty of water and take some food
  • use our map of the hike as a guide, you can download it

More questions? 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! 😉

Take your time and enjoy this piece of virtually untouched territory. Also, keep your eyes open for the lovely restored old bridge when you leave the main Fethiye – Antalya road at the Seki junction. You’ll find it under the ‘one-for-the-road-section’ of our interactive map of 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! 😉

There are not a lot of places to spend the night in the area, unless you’re into wild-camping. Near nearby Girdev Lake you will find accommodation.

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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Want to know how to be #happy? Head up to #Oinoanda in #Turkey! That\'s where researchers found an #Epicurean #inscription from #Diogenes that sets out the rules. - Read all about Oinoanda and how to get there in this post.