Priene - Ancient City of Turkey

Ancient City of Priene

The ancient horbor city of Priene changed its location when the silt of the Meander River threatened to bury it. Now it is nearly 16 km. away from the sea. The original place of the city has never been found, but it is thougt that it was a peninsula with two harbors. Priene was laid out on a Hippodamian system of grid plan at the foot of a spectacular cliff on Mount Mycale and contained many famous examples of Hellenistic art and architecture. All the streets intersect at right angles.Its great political significance had been always different from other Ionian cities.

It was founded on the Ionian coast by the inhabitants of an abandoned Ionian city of the same name in 350 BC. Alexander the Great assigned the city to watch the unreliable city of Miletus.He also lived in the city and constructed the Athena Temple. After flourishing during the Hellenistic and passing through the Pergamene Kingdom periods the city was added the Roman province of Asia Minor.

The city is organized in four districts, the religious ( Athena Temple ), the political ( Bouleterion and Prytaneion), the cultural ( Theater ) and the commercial ( Agora ). The people of Priene built also other shrines behalf of Zeus, Demeter and Egyptian gods.

The Theatre is a 4 or 3 CB building an done of the finest extant theaters of the Hellenistic world. It was rebuilt is the Roman time, however it still remains as typically Hellenistic as the city of Priene itself. The Theater was carved into the hillside and held a capacity of 5000 people. Five marble sits with arms were for priests and dignitaries. In the middle of the orchestra there was an altar which was sacred to Dionysus. Performances used to start with sacrificial rites.. The stage building is well-preserved and consist of a colonade suppoted with 12 Doric half-columbs. The Bouleterion is the most intact in Anatolia today. It was used for meetings of the town. The bouleterion consisted of seats on three sides with capacity of 650 people, and was covered with a wide wooden roof. The sacrifial altar was placed in the midle of the arc of seats. The Prytaneion is located to the east of the elected city administration and housed offical reception. Rooms were set around the courtyard. The shrine of Hestia was in an inner chamber where the eternal sacred flame was burned. The Temple of Athena Polias was rebuilt in 334 BC. as a gift from Alexander the Great and was the goddes of Priene and two in antis. Athena was the goddess of Priene and protectress of the city. Athena is the goddes of heroic endeavour. The proportionsof this temple were taken as a classical model or pattern by the Roman architect Vitruvius. The architect of the Athena Temple was Pytheos who also built the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. There were 50 different private luxury houses in Priene. A Priene private house usually consisted of a rectangular courtyard  enclosed by living quarters and storerooms and opening to the south onto the street by way of a small vestibule. There were rooms in the entrances of the houses for servers. Near the servers room there is room for only ladies.Ruins of several houses can be seen today, including the “Alexander House.” Priene is not mentioned in the Bible, but it is likely that the early Christians of Miletus had contact with the city. And there is Bishop’s Church in the city. They also built a synagoguge that includes a stone which was carved menorah.

Priene gradually declined due to its increasing distance from the sea, and it was abandoned after passing into Turkish hands in the 13th century AD. Excavations of Priene began in the 19th century and is still keeping.

Priene Picture Gallery