Side IV

Barb, Christine and I at the Apollo Temple site

I spent an hour or so at the Side Saturday market looking at the usual assortment of wares for sale. This day must have been a quiet one because many men were sleeping on the job. Someone told me that tourism is down in Turkey overall by 75 percent this year – don’t know whether that’s true nor not but to me it seems quite a bit less crowded in Side this year than last.

Barb and Christine rolled in about 6:30 and after a pause to freshen up, we decided to hit the Olive Bar Saturday night bbq. Supi was at the grill and presented us with a feast of meat: lamb chops, chicken, and meatballs – and it was delicious. We wolfed down every last bit. After dinner, we walked across the dunes to the train and chugged down to old Side. Barb and Christine checked out the jewellery and the men checked them out as we made our way down the main street to the harbour. I saw a beast who could have been Brubin’s brother, slightly larger than my dog and a bit less well-cared-for. Needing some liquid refreshment after a long day of bus-riding from Pamukkale, Barb and Christine and I sat ourselves down at the Harbour Bar where B and I had raki and Christine a pina colada presented with a remarkable assortment of twizzle sticks. Barb arm wrestled with one waiter, who told her she was weak, and discussed hair products with another curly-haired guy. After giving us tickets for ten percent off at the Athena disco, the first waiter led Barb off through the dark restaurant. Christine and I looked at the time so we could see if enough time had passed that we needed to go and rescue her. However, she returned without our intervention and said that he’d taken her to see the disco which was around the corner.

After consuming our drinks, we wandered off to the Apollo temple just down the road on the water, beautifully lit up at night. The wonderful thing about ruin sites in Turkey is that mostly they contain the original artifacts, not copies, and people are allowed to wander through freely, touching anything and everything. As usual, small groups of men were hanging around the site, watching the tourists and hoping for an opportunity to pick up women, with little success this night that I could see.

Once again back on the main drag, Barb spotted a t-shirt that amused her and tried her haggling style on the vendor with no success – maybe tomorrow … Christine had a close encounter with a local cat in the agora ruins; the poor tiny beast had been in a fight and had several small cuts on his body.

See pictures here.

For all of you history buffs out there, this account is from the website All About Turkey:

The rich plain of Pamphylia curves around the top of the Gulf of Antalya between Antalya (ancient Adalia or Attaleia) in the west and Alanya (ancient Coracesium) in the east. In classical times Pamphylia’s most important cities were Adalia, Alanya, Perge, Aspendos and Side. The main period of settlement is thought to have been when Greek refugees mingled with the local peoples, having fled here following the fall of Troy around 1184 BC. The name Pamphylia is ancient Greek for “land of all tribes” and an indication of just how colorful a mixture this must have been.

Ruled in turn by the Lydians, Persians, Alexander the Great, Antigonos I, one of his successors, the Seleucids and Egypt’s Ptolimites, it enjoyed a brief period of independence until the west of the region was ceded to the King of Pergamum in 188 BC. The Romans made it the heart of the military province of Cilicia, then merged it with Lycia in the 1st century AD to form a single province which reached the height of its prosperity in the 2nd century AD. Earlier, this part of the coast had also been notorious for its pirates who were to plague the Romans until their reign of terror was ended by Pompeii. He also took the local cult of Mithraism back with him to Rome, and for a long time Mithras was the official protector of the Roman Empire and the great rival of the Christian religion. This local attachment to Mithraism made it particularly difficult for the early Christians to gain general acceptance of their new religion. As a consequence the Crusaders set up numerous small Christian enclaves, each with its castle, along the coast of Pamphylia and Cilicia.

Side minted its own coins during the 5th century BC, a sign of its strength and richness at that time. In the 4th century BC Alexander the Great captured the city without a fight; this was a peaceful period for whole region. In 190 BC, Side was allied with Antiochus III, king of Syria, and his commander the Carthaginian Hannibal to fight against the Rhodian fleet, but they lost the naval battle and the city was occupied.

In the 2nd century BC Side became a rich and prosperous city of Pamphylia again thanks to its location and the trade; it was a intellectual and cultural center, too. Later, in the 1st century BC Side was controlled by pirates and turned into a slave market, but with the arrival of the Romans, these pirates fled. During Roman rule, Side was important once more with its large harbor, trade between Anatolia and other ports of the Mediterranean, its important slave trading market and so on. Under Byzantine rule, it was an important a Bishop center, as well. Arab raids in the 7th century AD destroyed Side and its inhabitants abandoned the city. Side was not a settlement during the Seljuk or Ottoman periods.

Nowadays the tourist boats offer daily pirate tours along the coast here.

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