Perge, the go-to place for colonnaded streets in Antalya

If you like to see Greek columns during your ancient site visits, put Perge on your list! Perge is located just east of Antalya, but this vast antique city is worth the drive, even if you’re holidaying in another province. Its colonnaded streets, Roman Baths, and impressive theatre are just a few of the features that will intrigue you during your visit. Here’s what to expect from a visit to Perge.

City Wall With The Decorative Vaulted Ceiling Lying In Front Of It

City Wall With The Decorative Vaulted Ceiling Lying In Front Of It

The Viewpoint Terrace Delivers!

The Viewpoint Terrace Delivers!

The Theatre: enter free of charge

Modern life has taken over in the area surrounding Perge. That includes a road that cuts the Theatre from the actual site. The advantage is that you can pop in without paying an entrance fee. During our time in Turkey, we’ve seen a lot of ancient theatres already. And if there’s one thing they have in common, apart from their purpose, it’s the fact that each theatre had its unique features that fascinated us. That was also the case with Perge’s Theatre, where the richly ornamented stage building reveals detailed reliefs portraying mythological figures for the 15.000 spectators to admire. From the upper rows of the Theatre, you get a good sense of what’s awaiting you inside the ancient site, and from the Stadium.

Inside The Theatre At Perge

Inside The Theatre At Perge

A Different Perspective Inside The Theatre

A Different Perspective Inside The Theatre

The Stadium: glorious in size

The Stadium testifies to Perge’s size and importance. With an astounding 234m length and 34m width, it’s only a tiny bit smaller than the one in Aphrodisias. What fascinated us the most, is the barrel-vaulted construction supporting the seats, serving as an entrance to the arena in every 3rd vault, with shops in the remaining vaults. The Stadium was also used for gladiatorial combat, with a separate area on the northern end. It’s interesting to see that plenty of stadiums and arena’s today are still built according to the same principle, with people entering from under the tribune.

Let The Games Begin! What A Stadium!

Let The Games Begin! What A Stadium!

Barrel Vaulted Support Structure For The Stadium

Barrel Vaulted Support Structure For The Stadium

The Roman Baths

No ancient site is complete without its baths. The Roman Baths at Perge are humongous! They lie behind the Nymphaeum and Propylon and consist of various well-preserved buildings where you can still witness fragments of the marble that used to decorate the walls and floors of these baths. The exposed brick supports and the boiler room underneath the floor are now visible and give great insight as to how these baths were heated.

Look At Those Supports With The Boiler Room At The End

Look At Those Supports With The Boiler Room At The End

Inside The Roman Bath Complex

Inside The Roman Bath Complex

The Hellenistic Gate

The Hellenistic Gate at Perge is impressive. The circular towers on both sides of the city gate give access to what must have been a grandiose inner-courtyard with marble-covered walls and a two-story-high Corinthian colonnade with embedded niches containing statues. The courtyard leads to another three gates quite similar to Hadrian’s Gate in Kaleiçi, Antalya. This whole area must have been monumental. Even nowadays, with most of this Hadrianic Gate ruined, you can get a grasp of its epic dimensions.

Hellenistic Gate With Corinthian Colonnade At The Back And Hadrianic Gate In Front Of It

Hellenistic Gate With Corinthian Colonnade At The Back And Hadrianic Gate In Front Of It

The Hellenistic Gate Of Which One Half Is Undergoing Restoration Works

The Hellenistic Gate Of Which One Half Is Undergoing Restoration Works

The Colonnaded Streets

If there is one striking thing about Perge, it’s the enormous amount of columns still standing. No matter where you look, you’re bound to see them. They surround the Agora, but also the two main streets of the city. These colonnaded streets bring you to all major landmarks inside the city walls. The Main Street takes you straight from the Hellenistic Gate to the foot of the Acropolis, a little over halfway, the Western Colonnaded Street leading to the Palaestra and Northern Baths, crosses the Main Street.

Main Street Canal With Hellenistic Gate In The Background

Main Street Canal With Hellenistic Gate In The Background

Main Street Pavement

Main Street Pavement

A canal supplying water to the fountains runs in the center of Main Street, and alongside West Street. Three columns along Main Street have a relief, one of which is Artemis, the other two are Calchas, the cities’ founder, and Tyche, the goddess of fortune. The streets had shops on the side, some of which had richly decorated mosaic floors. You are walking on mosaics almost the entire time of your visit without even realizing it. They are under a protective cover topped with gravel. Now and then, the cover was damaged, and mosaics appear. The best example of the mosaic floors can be seen in a shop along West Street with a depiction of the Trojan War in which Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia.

Trojan War Mosaic

Trojan War Mosaic

Artemis Relief On A Column Along Main Street

Artemis Relief On A Column Along Main Street

The arch of Demetrios and Apollonius at the crossing of both streets is the perfect place to have a rest and to admire Hadrian’s Nymphaeum from a distance.

The Arch Of Demetrios And Apollonius

The Arch Of Demetrios And Apollonius

West Street Seen From The Arch Of Demetrios And Apollonius

West Street Seen From The Arch Of Demetrios And Apollonius

Hadrian’s Nymphaeum and the viewpoint terrace

Hadrian’s Nymphaeum is the starting point of the canal that runs in the middle of Main Street and that distributed water to the fountains and the city baths. The niche in the middle contained the statue of Kestros, the river god. The steps on both sides of this statue take you to the Acropolis and to the viewpoint terrace from which you can admire all that Perge has to offer.

Hadrian's Nymphaeum And The Acropolis Behind It

Hadrian’s Nymphaeum And The Acropolis Behind It

View Towards Main Street From Within Hadrian's Nymphaeum

View Towards Main Street From Within Hadrian’s Nymphaeum

Don't Forget To Walk Up To The Viewpoint Terrace!

Don’t Forget To Walk Up To The Viewpoint Terrace!

The Palaestra

The Palaestra along West Street was a place with an open courtyard, surrounded by changing rooms, dedicated to physical exercises. The aqueducts providing the running water are still visible today. The Palaestra is no longer accessible, but its exterior wall largely makes up for that and gives a fairly good impression of the size and importance of this building.

The Palaestra Wall

The Palaestra Wall

West Street With Canal And Palaestra At The Back

West Street With Canal And Palaestra At The Back

The Northern Baths

The Northern Baths at Perge are difficult if not impossible to access, unlike the Roman Baths at the beginning of the site. Still, it is worth it to walk to the end of West Street for the atmosphere alone.

Northern Bath Walls

Northern Bath Walls

One Of The West Street Sidewalks

One Of The West Street Sidewalks

The Agora

Colonnaded walkways and shops surround the square-shaped Agora at Perge. In the middle, you’ll see a circular structure which is thought to have been a temple that was later transformed to an Agiasma, or sacred spring after the installation of water pipes providing the necessary water supply.

The Agora

The Agora

Beautiful Agora Columns

Beautiful Agora Columns

The Church with Eastern Apse

The Church with Eastern Apse is a Byzantine Basilica type church next to the Agora. It is one of the best accessible churches out of the three churches you will find in Perge. It is said that they date back to the time that Christianity reached Perge when Apostle Paul stayed in the city to preach during his missionary journey.

The Church With The Eastern Apse

The Church With The Eastern Apse

Agora Seen From The Church With The Eastern Apse

Agora Seen From The Church With The Eastern Apse

Practical information for your Perge visit

Perge is open every day from 8:30 am till 7:30 pm from mid-April to the end of September, and till 5:30 pm during the winter season. On the first day of religious holidays, the site opens at 1 pm. Unless you only want to visit the theatre, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee, which is 35 TRY in 2019.

Perge is located east of Antalya, only a short ride from the D400 connecting Antalya with Alanya. You’ll notice the exit sign for Perge not too far after driving past Antalya Airport if you’re coming from Antalya. If you rely on public transport, you have several options. Check out all public transport to Perge here.

While you are in the area, combine your visit to Perge with a stop at Aspendos Theatre or Old Town Antalya. Make sure to save a minimum of 3 hours for your Perge visit and bring something to protect you from the sun, as there’s not a lot of shade on site. Perge has a visitor center with a small souvenir shop, a cafeteria, and toilets and a mescid (or praying room). Not all areas are flat or easy terrain, good walking shoes are a must! Use the map below to better prepare your visit or book a private excursion tour of Perge with the local guide Cihan or go on his tour that includes Aspendos. There is also a full day tour of Perge with the ToursByLocals guide Mehmet Işik.

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According to these reviews on TripAdvisor, we’re not the only ones who seem to think Perge should be on your list. If you want to know more, 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.

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Check out our interactive map of Turkey for more places to visit in the area. You’ll find that Aspendos, Kaleiçi, or Side (just to name a few) are definitely worth checking out.

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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.

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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.

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