During my life time I always lived in historical, touristical places. So it was not a big surprise for me to become a professional tour guide. I remember when I was a small child I was playing on ancient stones and trying to explain something about the history of them to the visitors with some basic words. Where was this place? Yes it was where I still live with my family. We are in Didim or Didyma which is famous for its Temple of Apollon.
The Temple of Apollon at Didyma, actual town of Didim, used to be the third biggest temple of the ancient world after the biggest one at Ephesus, Temple of Artemis, known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and the Temple of Hera in Samos Island. All these historical beauties are located in a place of damaging earthquakes, eventhough the first two biggest temples were completely destroyed, the Temple of Apollon remained standing.
However much Apollon may be considered as one of the twelve gods dwelling on Mounth Olympos in Greek Mythology, he is actually an Anatolian God. The finding of records which show him racing with King Midas or the Satry-shepherd Marsyas who gave his name to the river of Cine are the evidences that he is an ancient God of Anatolian origin.
Apollon is the son of Zeus and twinn-brother to Artemis, the Moon-Goddess. Accroding to the legend their mother, Leto, gave birth to the twinns on Ortyga Woods. Didymaion means "twinns" and this is the reason why the place where the Temple of Apollon stands was called so.
During history the Temple of Apollon was built two times on the same place. The first temple we know was built in the 8th century BC and it was surrounded by columns on all directions in the 6th. The temple which had all the characteristics of Arcaic-art was finally completed around 550 BC. Those who built the temple and took its guardianship upon them-selves, who acted as the priests and the oracles were called Brankhids or Branchos. They ruled on this region very long and peaciful period. Pausanius, one of the writer of the first century informs us that the cult seen in this region existed long before the Ionians arrived in Anatolia.
Unfortunately this first temple was completely destroyed by the Persian attacks in 494 BC at the Battle of Lade. Its plunder treasures and very famous statue of Apollon which was made of bronce were taken to Ekbatana, the capital of Persia.
The temple that we admire today is the one which was rebuilt by Alexander The Great after his arrival to Anatolia in 334 BC. This time the temple was built with the same plan but on a larger scale at the same place. The biggest classical temples were formed by surrounding an inner space with columns in two raws and were called dipteros. When the temple was rebuilt for the second time it used to have 124 columns around it but west and south-west of the temple were never finished. Seleukos, one of the commander of Alexander The Great had even returned the statue of Apollon taken to Ekbatana to its original place.
This Hellenistic temple began to lose its position of importance after christianity. During the time of Theodesius, all kinds of prophecies were forbidden by the order of the king, thus the temple lost its importance and the construction which had lasted for centuries remained unfinished.
In all platforms of advertising Turkish tourism, there is one image that everbody is aware of. This is the face of Medusa. According to the legend Medusa was a snake-haired lady, very ugly and wherever she looked at was turning into stone. She was one of the three sisters named Gorgons and was the only mortal. The legend informs us that at first she was a very beautiful lady but Athena was jealous of her beauty. That's why she gave her an ugly apperance with snake hairs, cocked eyes.
Turkey offers endless story wherever you go. Now the world is getting smaller and it is not difficult to reach at any place. Didim or Didyma is one of them. You can participate in my Private Miletos, Priene and Temple of Apollon Tour any time you want. Three birds with one shot...