Holiday in Side, one of Turkey’s most famous archaeological sites
The busy resort of Side is an ideal place to take in ancient ruins, beaches and shopping without venturing too far afield. It is a haven for shoppers, with its leather, jewellery and souvenir stores and many bars and restaurants in summer. Small family-run businesses have enabled the town to retain its village charms. Side occupies a peninsula that terminates in a small harbour. The remains of moles built in antiquity are visible in places offshore.
Side was the most significant port in Pamphylia, the Mediterranean region whose name meant Land Of All Tribes. It was named after the pomegranate, a symbol of fertility in ancient Anatolian culture, and was for centuries a magnet for people who were forced to leave their homes due to natural disaster or war. In 546 BC when it was under the Lycian rule, the region was attacked by the Persians. Two centuries later, in 334 BC, Side surrendered without a fight to Alexander the Great who set up his mint here. After the death of Alexander, Side was ruled successively by the Ptolemaeans and Seleucids, later winning independence which continued after Pamphylia became part of the kingdom of Pergamum in 188 BC.
As well as being a wealthy seaport, Side was a centre of culture and scholarship. In 78 BC it became part of the Roman Empire, although retaining a great degree of self-government, and Mark Antony and Cleopatra had a romantic tryst there. During this period it added the slave trade to its already significant sources of wealth. In the second half of the 3rd-century attacks on Pamphylia by the mountain peoples to the north weakened the city’s economy and new walls were built to protect against these incursions. Under the Byzantines, Side enjoyed a final burst of prosperity before the combination of earthquakes, piracy and Arab invasions eventually caused the city to be entirely abandoned in the 10th century. According to the Arab geographer Idrisi writing in 1150, the people of Side migrated westwards to Antalya.
The town has an enormous Roman amphitheatre and adjoining agora which was the slave market. In the Byzantine period in the 5th and 6th centuries, it was also used as an open-air church.
By the harbour are the remains of the temples of Apollo and Athena. These were, unfortunately, demolished to build a Christian church and a bishop’s palace. The Christian basilica surrounding the site is now also ruined. Several columns of the Apollo temple were re-erected in recent times.
Things to do on your next Side Holiday
When the hot Turkish sun is beating down, there’s nowhere better than the resort’s long, sandy beaches; and with two of them to choose from, you’ll have to find your favourite. If you can tear yourself away, the old town is well worth a visit. Both day and night, it has a great atmosphere, with bustling bazaars and Turkish restaurants galore. Just beyond the town limits are its most famous attractions, including the enormous ancient amphitheatre. It’s an absolute must for lovers of culture. If you’re a bit of a foodie, then you’re in luck as holidays here give you the perfect opportunity to try the local delicacies. Head to the harbourside restaurants, where they’re serving up tantalising Turkish fare and fresh seafood all day long.
Hotel recommendations for your next Side Holiday
The newly opened Paloma Finesse Side is located directly on the beach in the holiday region Side, approx. 6 km from the Side city centre of Side and approximately 75 km from Antalya Airport. The luxurious hotel comprises of 299 rooms, an elegant reception/lobby area, à la carte restaurants and bars.
The hotel is located directly on the beach in the holiday region of Side-Sorgun, approx. 3 km from Side city centre and 60 km from Antalya Airport. The complex consists of twelve buildings constructed in the Bosphorus style houses of Instanbul with a total of 429 rooms, an elegant lobby with reception and sitting areas, the main restaurant and various bars.
The beach hotel is located directly on the private sandy beach, 3 km from Side with several shopping and entertainment options and 60 km from Antalya Airport. The hotel has 380 rooms, a nice lobby with a bar, lounge, main restaurant, à la carte restaurants, bars, internet corner, hairdressing salon and other shops.
Have you been to Side? Where did you stay when you were there?