Turkey, ruins of Aizanoi

Restoration of the ancient Roman city of Aizanoi begins

Archaeologists are working to restore the Roman-era theater and stadium of Aizanoi, an UNESCO candidate city called Turkey’s “second Ephesus” for its ruins.

Archaeologists have resumed this week the restoration work on the ruins of the ancient city of Aizanoi, a Greco-Roman settlement located in the west of present-day Turkey, classified as the “Second Ephesus“, and which since 2012 has been a candidate for World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

Speaking to the Anatolia agency, Pamukkale University professor of archeology, Elif Özer, explained that restoration work has already started in the ancient theatre and stadium of Aizanoi, a city whose history dates back 5,000 years in the time located next to the town of Çavdarhisar, in the Turkish province of Kütahya, and which houses one of the best preserved temples in Anatolia dedicated to the god Zeus of Greek mythology.

Özer noted that restoration work on the city’s ancient Roman theatre -with a capacity of 20,000 people- and the stadium -which could hold 13,500 spectators- are being funded by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism and by the patronage of a Kütahya local businessman Rıza Güral.

Natural disasters such as earthquakes and landslides have damaged both the theatre and the stadium -built side by side- for centuries, so the goal now is to restore them so that they can be visited, since their current state is dilapidated. “The (restoration) project was created about 6 years ago. We want this place to recover the aspect it had in ancient times and to attract more tourists to the region,” said the archaeologist.

Abandoned in the 7th century, its ruins were rediscovered in 1824

Located 57 kilometers from the city of Kütahya, the city of Aizanoi lived its golden age during the second and third centuries of our era, when the Roman Empire was on the rise, becoming in byzantine times the centre of an episcopate.

From the 7th century onwards it fell into decline and centuries later the Çavdar, a group of Tatar invaders, turned the hill where the temple of Zeus was into a fortress (hence the Turkish name of the town, Çavdarhisar or “hill of the Çavdar” ).

The ruins of Aizanoi were rediscovered in 1824 by European travellers, and in 1970 the first excavations began and brought to light the theatre, the stadium, two public Roman baths, a gymnasium, five bridges, a market and several necropolis. However, excavations made around the ancient temple of Zeus demonstrate various levels of occupation that date back to 3,000 BC.