Explore South Central Anatolia
Set on a flat plain dominated by 2635-metre Mount Davraz to the south, ISPARTA is a mostly modern town whose only suggestion of romantic appeal lies in its chief industries: rosewater, distilled here for over a century, and carpets, manufactured in industrial quantities. You’re most likely to come through Isparta on your way to Eğirdir, 12km east.
There are a few things to see and do in town. On Kaymakkapı Meydanı, the Ulu (Kutlubey) Cami dates from 1417, its size and grandeur attesting to the importance of the town in Ottoman times; but the interior is badly restored. Up until the 1923 exchange of populations many Greeks lived in Isparta, and their old residential quarter is a fifteen-minute walk from the town centre, near the Devlet Hastanesi (State Hospital). The once handsome lath-and-plaster houses are now crumbling, but there are a couple of restored nineteenth-century churches to admire.
The town’s Archeological Museum (Arkeoloji Müzesi; closed for restoration) is on Kenan Evren Caddesi, 500m northeast of the Belediye building. It has a reasonable collection of local finds, including some fine Roman grave stelae, plus assorted items from a nearby Bronze Age burial site. The ethnonography section includes a wonderful felt and reed yurt, which, along with the fine old carpets and kilims also on show, attests to a nomadic culture once an integral part of this region. Isparta’s market day is Wednesday, when people come in from the surrounding rural areas to sell agricultural produce and stock up on necessities.Read More
Although nearer Isparta, the Pisidian site of Sagalossos is a popular organized trip from Eğirdir, 55km to the northeast. By far the most impressive Pisidian site, it is undergoing extensive excavations. It was first discovered in 1806 when it was identified as the first city in Pisidia though most of what you see today dates from Roman imperial times. The population of Termessos probably moved to Sagalassos in 244 AD after an earthquake, though the site was abandoned soon after, when the population moved downhill to the present town.
The site is well labelled with illustrations of the buildings in their original state. To the right of the entrance is the 96-metre-wide theatre, just as the earthquake left it, with seating mostly in place, but the stage building rather more wrecked. Two restored nymphaea (fountain-houses) are here: the smaller shows both early and Byzantine phases; the floor mosaic is almost intact, as are the alcoves and a major inscription. Walking west you come to the upper agora, of which the second, huge nymphaeum formed one side, two ceremonial arches opened off and there was a pagoda-like monument in the centre.
Just above, north of the upper agora, is one of the oldest parts of the site, a Doric temple of the second century BC, built of massive blocks still standing on two sides; it was later incorporated into the city walls and you can spot the joins. Walking down from the upper agora you’ll see fragments of beautiful Roman friezes laid out like a giant jigsaw. Turn right on the level track through the site for graves cut into the rock face; they contained cremations. Below the main track is the lower agora with adjacent baths. Earthenware pipes and hypocausts reveal how water was distributed and heated. Beyond this area is a temple with Corinthian columns dedicated to Antonius Pius, now in rubble, but an informative contrast to the Doric one.
Straight ahead down the steps is the necropolis containing many graves, and a hill which locals say is the site of an Alexander monument – they believe that a gold statue dedicated to Alexander is waiting to be discovered.