“They came from the darkness / looked at the darkness /
Afraid of the darkness / worshipped darkness / multiplied in
darkness / defeated the darkness / loved the darkness / and left with
the darkness. On which star are their beautiful voices?
Their hands / on rocks.”
(Hasan Hüseyin, Ağlasun Ayşafağı)
It is a common legend in the Turkish-Islam tradition: A group of travelers, disguised as cranes, fly to find a god place to settle and arrive in Anatolia. When they arrive at a certain place, a voice whispers to them. For example, mystics who fly over Konya hear this voice:
They land there and establish the city of Konya!
Another group flies from the horizon to find heaven on earth. Over antique Olympos one of them says:
- This is heaven. So they build the city of Bursa, a great place dry in the winter and rainy in the summer.
Here is another example:
While they fly, they hear this sound over Lake Region:
“Stop here and build your city! “
So, they build the city of Burdur.
From Sagalassos to Ağlasun
From Sagalassos to Ağlasun
In fact, the name of “Burdur “originates from the word Polydoros, which means abundant place.
Ağlasun is located 35 kilometers from Burdur and is a cute town. This name comes from Sagalassos, the capital of Pisidia 7 kilometers from the center.
Sagalassos isn’t just another city. The magnificent city of Sagalassos has been known as the Star of the Taurus since the antique ages. Since the Taurus Mountains are the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world, imagine just how magnificent Sagalassos was!
The city was established 1450-1700 meters above sea level. Let me remind you that the highest hotel in İzmir is 100 meters high, Kadifekale is 190 meters high and Bergama is only 335 meters high. The 7000 capacity theatre of the city was built at 1500 meters and the border wall of the theatre made up the northern part of the city walls. It must have been a great place for performances and concerts!
“Ağlasun is a star sycamore
Two bolts, a thunder, floods,
Storm, snow, a leaf on a branch
Ağlasun is hope in my fall
Ağlasun is sadness
A thief in my weary nights
Ağlasun is our yearnings
Ağlasun is our rage
Ağlasun is everywhere
Ağlasun is our dreams”
A falcon nest up above
It is difficult to know the number but there are around 4000 antique cities in our country. I only know 3900 of them and I can safely say that Sagalassos is special. These cities are like my children and one of my favorite children is Sagalassos!
I’m sure there are those who haven’t seen this jewel that is right in front of our eyes. However, a Belgian archeologist by the name of Mark Waalkens has seen it and has been digging here with passion for years. He unearths the fountains, the magnificent library, the temple, the palace and monuments. In fact, the Prince of Belgium is sponsoring his excavations. The Museum of Burdur organizes the artifacts and publishes scientific journals.
Herbs that grown on marble
The asphalt road that accelerates like a corkscrew leads visitors to the entrance of the excursion site after 7 kilometers. As soon as you step out of the car, you are greeted by a guard who sits in a cabin durrounded by greenery. İbrahim, the guard, says:
“I love green. I wanted to see green grow around the marble. I carried water from the borough center but it was tough to do that with my motorcycle. One day, I found a water source and now I’m using a hose to bring the water!”
There you go; here is a surprise from Anatolia.
Those who see Sagalassos from afar will notice that some of the monumental structures are partially erect and that market places are covered with green canopies. These canopies have been set to protect historical artifacts from sun and rain.
Here are the most important structures in Sagalassos antique city:
Theatres resemble today’s satellite dishes. In other words, the city is a house and the theatre is a megaphone at its mouth. Since there were no televisions and radios in the antique age, theatre was the sole tool for communication. Not only performances were staged there but also meetings were held. In an advanced city, the capacity of a theatre was designed to accommodate at least one person from each family. Since the capacity of Sagalassos theatre was 7000, we can assume that the city had a population of 30 thousand. Let us say that it had a population of 10 thousand since the city was rich and they built more bleachers for audiences.
Most of the pieces of the Hellenistic period theatre have fallen into the orchestra pit. The remains include a 12 meter high column which probably belonged to a statue of Dionysus or the sponsor of the theatre.
There are terrace houses in the city just like the ones in Ephesus.
The Antonius Fountain, which is one of the most surprising structures of the fallen city, was built during the reign of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who rebuilt İzmir. These types of monumental fountains were known as Nymphaeum, dedicated to water ferries. The original statues that adorned the fountain are on display at the Burdur Museum. The museum also boasts unique statues found during excavations in Sagalassos and Pisidia.
The Prince of Belgium, who finances the excavations at Sagalassos, came to Burdur on May 5, 2005. He visited the museum and Sagalassos. (A small note from your guide: When at the museum, go upstairs and see the Apollo statue made from bronze!)
If you have seen Aphrodisias and its museum, you will see the resemblance between the statues there and the statues here. That is because most of the statues in Burdur Museum were made by sculptors from Aphrodisias!
The Library of Nero
Anatolia is highly rich in antique libraries. The libraries in Bergama, Efes, Nyssa (Sultanhisar), Milet, Smyrna (İzmir), Assos, Knidos and other antique cities are exemplary. Sagalassos is also lucky in this respect.
The library which was built in 2nd century A.D. was rebuilt by Prof. Waelkens and his team according to its original.
The library, which includes cultural books, is a work of art. The base of the library is adorned with two big mosaics. One of them depicts Achilles during the Trojan War. The library is so sturdy that it can be used today.