Side (pronounced See-deh) was an ancient maritime city of Pamphylia, located 16 km from Seleucia. Its current location is on the southern coast near the villages of Manavgat and Selimiye (75 km from Antalya) in the province of Antalya in Turkey. It is located on the eastern part of the Pamphylian coast, which lies about 20 km east of the mouth of the Eurymedon River.Settlers from Cyme (Cumæans) in Aeolia, an ancient district of Asia Minor, founded the city in the seventh century BC. Possessing a good harbour for small-craft boats, Side's natural geography made it the most important place in Pamphylia – the region in the south of Asia Minor between Lycia and Cilicia, from the Mediterranean to thr Mount Taurus. This location made Side one of the most important trade centers in its time. Today, as in yesteryear, the ancient city of Side is situated on a small north-south peninsula about 1 km long and 400 m across.During the sixth century BC, Side fell under the rule of Lydia, a kingdom in Asia Minor. It gained partial autonomy under Persian rule after 547 BC. Side minted its own coins starting in the fifth century BC even while under Persian rule.
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great occupied Side without a struggle in 333 BC. Alexander left only a single garrison behind to occupy the city. This occupation, in turn, introduced the people of Side to Hellenistic culture of the Greek Civilization, which flourished from the fourth century to the first century BC. After Alexander's death, Side fell under the control of one of Alexander's generals, Ptolemy_I_Soter, who declared himself king of Egypt in 305 BC. The Ptolemaic dynasty controlled Side until it was captured by the Seleucid Empire in the second century BC. Yet, despite these occupations, in the following years of the second century BC, Side managed to preserve some autonomy, grew prosperous, and became an important cultural center.In 190 BC a fleet from the Greek island city-state of Rhodes, supported by Rome and Pergamum, defeated the Seleucid King Antiochus the Great's fleet, which was under the command of the fugitive Carthagenian general, Hannibal. The defeat of Hannibal and Antiochus the Great meant that Side freed itself from the overlordship of the Seleucid Empire. In the first century BC, the Cilician pirates established their chief naval base and a slave tradecenter at Side.
Later the Roman general Pompey defeated these brigands in 67 BC, bringing Side under the control of the Roman Empire. Side's peak period started around 2C BC when it established and maintained a good working relationship with the Roman Empire.Emperor Augustus reformed the state administration and placed Pamphylia and Side in the Roman province of Galatia in 25 BC. Side began another prosperous period as a commercial center in Asia Minor. This period would last well into the third century AD. Side established itself as a slave tradingcenter in the Mediterranean. Its large commercial fleet engaged in acts of piracy. Wealthy merchants paid for such tributes as public works, monuments, and competitions as well as the games and gladiator fights. The significance of this period for Side is evident in its ruins today. Most of the present-day ruins found in Side date from this period of prosperity.Decline Side began to steady decline from the fourth century on. Even defensive walls could not stop successive invasions from highlanders from the Taurus Mountains. During the fifth and sixth centuries, Side was the seat of the Bishopric of Eastern Pamphylia. Arab fleets, nevertheless, raided and burned Side during the seventh century, contributing to its steady decline. The combination of earthquakes, Christian zealots and Arab raids, left the site completely abandoned by the 10th century. In the twelfth century, Side temporarily established itself once more as a large city. An inscription found on the site of the former ancient city shows a considerable Jewish population in early Byzantine times. However, Side was abandoned again after being sacked. Its population moved to Antalya and Side became known as Eski Adalia or Old Antalya and was buried
The great ruins are among the most notable in Asia Minor. They cover a large promontory where were repaired and the promontory houses a wealth of structures. There are colossal ruins of a theater complex built much like a Roman amphitheater that relies on arches to support the sheer verticals. The Roman style was adopted because Side lacked a convenient hillside that could be hollowed out as in the usual Greek fashion more typical of Asia Minor. The theater is less well preserved than the Aspendos theater, but it is almost as large, seating 15,000 people. With time and the shifting of the earth, the scena wall has collapsed over the stage and the proscenium is in a cataract of loose blocks.The well preserved city walls provide an entrance to the site through the main gate of the ancient city, although gate is badly damaged. Next comes the colonnated street although the marble columns once there do not exist anymore. All that remains is a few broken stubs near the old a wall and a mote separate it from the mainland. During medieval times, the wall and mote Roman baths. The street leads to the a public bath restored as a museum displaying Roman period statues and sarcophagi. Next is the agora where pirates sold slaves. The current remains of the theatre, which was used as gladiator fights and later as a church, and the monumental gate date back to the 2nd Century. The early Roman Temple of Dionysus is near the theater. The fountain gracing the entrance is restored. At the left side are the remains of a Byzantine Basilica. A pubic bath has been restoredThe remaining ruins of Side include three temples, an aqueduct, and a nymphaeum. Side's nymphaeum – a grotto with a natural water supply dedicated to the nymphs – was an artificial grotto or fountain building of elaborate design.Turkish archaeologists have been excavating Side since 1947 and intermittently continue to do so.
Today Side is a popular vacation destination. It was a favourite spot for watching the solar eclipse of March 29, 2006.