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DIOCAESAREA Ancıent cıty

mersın / turkey

Category:         Ancient City

Civilisation:      Greek / Roman


Outdoor Tracking Route

by wikiloc


Olba  ancient city & its Ruinsare located over the Taurus Mountains within the borders of Mersin Province of Turkey. It is believed to be  the capital of the local kingdom called ''Pirindu'' that was ruling the area in the sixth century BCE. The traces of ancient buildings are located at the mouth of a long and deep ravine. Moreover, about 4 km to the west, there are the ruins of the old sanctuary of Diocaesarea. The relation of Olba and Diocaesarea can be likened to the connection between Apollo Temple in Didyma and the city of Miletus.


This tower gave Uzuncaburç (Tall Tower or Bastion) its name. A inscription states it is built for Tarkyares, son of a priest, in the second half of the 3rd century BC. It was a defensive tower, but also a good place to store valuable goods (the temple treasure) if danger threatened.

In Antiquity, Diocaesarea was a sacred settlement & well-known for its temple of Zeus, which was rebuilt in c.300 BCE by Seleucus I Nicator, the founder of the Seleucid Empire. At that moment, Olba was already an ancient town. It had been the capital of a small, independent state named Pirindu, which had been annexed by the Achaemenid Empire. Diocaserea was its sacred area.

It appears that Seleucus also refounded the town itself,  The Colonnaded Street was about 250 meters long. The remains of an ancient arch at the beginning of this street still remain. It has consoles on its pillars, which were believed to have been carrying once some statues.

According to a legend told by the Greek geographer Strabo, the original temple of Zeus Olbius had been founded by Ajax, who is one of the Greek heroes of the Trojan War as mentioned by Heredotus. The priests belonged to the Teucrid dynasty: every man of this family was called either Ajax or Teucer. Ruled by these priests, 

Several monuments date back to Seleucid period. One of these is the big tower, which was built in the second half of the third century BCE. İt is understood that the inhabitants were very proud of this building, because the state depicted it with a picture of it on their coins. 

During the Roman period after their war against the Cilician pirates in 67 BCE, they gave the autonomy to the town. The name "Diocaesarea" was adopted during the reign of the emperor Vespasian. During his reign or the reign of his son Domitian , a temple of Tyche was given as a present to the city by a man and a woman named Oppius and Kyria, his wife. The cult may be older, though, because the Colonnaded Street leads up to it, suggesting that the road was oriented on the sanctuary.


One of the youngest monuments is the northwestern city gate. An inscription states that it was erected during the reign of the emperor Arcadius (r.395-408). It is about 32 meters wide and 12 meters high; the width of the wall is just over one meter. Still, it may have served as a real fortification, because this was the age of the Isaurians, inhabitants of the mountains of Cilicia, who were a permanent threat to the Roman interests in this part of Anatolia.

In this age, the temple of Zeus was converted into church, and this explains why it remained well-preserved. Olba was the center of the bishop who was representing  the city during major councils and synods.


Cella of The Tychaion or Tyche temple is from the 2nd half of the first century. It has a peripteros (one of six columns missing), its cella is 34 meters further. Pictures of the five (out of originally six) columns forming a peripteros. 

Main gate and the Sarcophagi. This Roman city gate was restored in the 5th century AD after an earthquake. A Roman sarcophagus on the grounds of the Zeus temple with animal and Medusa heads and garlands. On the terrain of the temple, within the temenos wall,

Places to see

The aqueduct is the most spectacular structure that can be seen in Olba. It was being used to bring water to the city from Lamos River, now known as Limonlu. Water was transported through tunnels and trenches to the aqueduct erected during the reign of Emperor Septimus Severus. The aqueduct is 150 meters long and 25 meters high. It runs across the gorge known as ''Şeytan Deresi'' (Turkish) which means ''the Devil's Valley'' in English. The towers that surround the aqueduct are believed to be built to secure this important structure with guards.

There are visible fragments of a theatre with the auditorium and the skene partly preserved, standing next to the nymphaeum. The necropolis of Olba is situated along the walls of the ''Şeytan Deresi'' gorge which has numerous sarcophagi, rock-cut graves and monuments.   The necropolis hasresemblences with the other ancient cemeteries of Cilicia Trachea, like the one in Elaiussa-Sebaste.


A view of ancient theatre in Diocaesarea-Olba ancient city. Uzuncaburç, Silifke - Mersin, Turkey, and an inscription. above. Below are the photos of the necropolis of the city.  İt is along a road to the north, to Olba (Ura) the rocks are riddled with graves and here and there a sarcophagus, hence the necropolis. There is a footpath that is a joy, parallel to the main road,

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