Most people when they think of Turkey and ruins will think of Ephesus (which really does have some of the best ancient Greek ruins in Turkey), Hierapolis, or even the old part of Constantinople in modern Istanbul. But Turkey has many ancient ruins that are worth seeing. The Acropolis of Athens is far from the only acropolis - it is just the largest and most impressive of them.
Assos is an easy drive from the stunning coastal Turkish city of Canakkale as well as the ancient city of Troy (one can see the Trojan Horse made for the 2003 movie Troy starring Brad Pit in Canakkale). Turkey is a country that just can not be seen on a single trip and one that will always have more in store for future visits.
Why Visit The Ancient Site Of Assos
In ancient times, the Greek world was much larger than it is today and included much of what is today western Turkey. The Greeks who lived on the Turkish Aegean coast were called Ionian Greeks and were an important part of the Greek world.
It is on the UNESCO tentative list and so may one day become a World Heritage Site.
- Ionian Greeks: Assos And The Turkish Aegean Coast Was Ionian Greek
Today it is one of the overlooked attractions in Turkey and affords breathtaking views over the Aegean sea. Clearly visible just off the coast of Assos is the Greek Island of Lesbos (from where the English word "Lesbian" derives).
- See: Gaze Across The Strait To The Greek island of Lesbos
The site is perched upon a hill and includes an ancient church, the ruins of a once-great temple, an agora, a theater, a necropolis, and other ruins and attractions. As of the time of writing (April 2022) parts of the site are closed to the public for restoration work. The main attraction is the Temple of Athens on the top of the Acropolis.
As one walks up the hill to the acropolis, visitors pass through the modern town. It is full of excellent Turkish restaurants and souvenir vendors. One can sit and relax in these great restaurants and cafes or alternatively, pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic in the acropolis by the temple while gazing out to the Greek island of Lesbos.
The Aristotle Affair
One of the more important Greek cities was the city of Assos - it was a small but historically rich town. During the time of Pliny the Elder (1st century AD), it was also called Apollonia.
In even more ancient times it was visited by Aristotle (with Xenocrates) who was welcomed there by King Hermias. He opened an Academy in Assos and married Pythias, the adopted daughter of Hermias.
- Moved: To Assos From Athens
- Married: The Adopted Daughter of King Hermias In Assos
- Fled: To Macedonia When The Persians Attacked
- Tutored: Alexander the Great
Aristotle made observations in zoology and biology and soon become chief to a group of philosophers. When the Persians attacked Assos, King Hermias was killed while Aristotle fled to Macedonia. There he tutored King Philip II of Macedon's son - Alexander who would go on to become Alexander the Great. He would go on to drive the Persians out of Assos.
Today one can find a modern statue of Aristotle at the entrance to the archeological site of Assos.
The Apostle Paul is also recorded to have visited Assos in Acts chapter 20.
Temple Of Apollo Smintheion In Gulpinar
Only a short drive from Assos is another forgotten ancient Greek temple and sacred site. Here one can see the ruins of a temple dedicated to Apollo, "Lord of Mice" Smintheus. It is in the quiet out-of-the-way village of Gülpınar on stunning Biga Peninsula.
- See: The Temple of Apollo And Roman Ruins
- Built: The Temple Was Built In The Second Century BC
- Mentioned: The Ancient Site Is Mentioned In Homer's Iliad
This temple was mention in Homer's epic the Iliad about the siege of Troy and continued into the Roman times. Today one can see the partially restored ruins of the temple and many excavated Roman ruins - including a Roman road and Roman baths.
The Temple of Apollon Smintheion was built in the mid-second century BC, in the so-called pseudodipteral style.
- Sleuth: Find The Unmarked Roman Bridge In The Middle of a Farmer's Field
Not far from the site is an ancient Roman bridge unmarked on any map. Go sleuthing for the Roman bridge leading to the Temple of Apollo and see in-tact Roman bridge forgotten in the middle of a farmer's field where a river used to be. Turkey is so full of ancient Roman and Greek attractions that many are just not even marked.