Day trip to Perge – St. Paul Trail
During the month of January, the weather can become very unstable around Antalya – long cold periods and a lot of rain are not rare and you might get only one or two good days in a week. Fortunately, this area has a lot of very interesting ancient towns for a day trip.
On one of this good days, we visited Perge (20 LT). The city is the start of the St. Paul Trail and is easy to reach from Antalya. We decided to cover the 19km between the city and the site with rented bikes and it took us about an hour biking next to the main road. The road was pretty easy and the altitude difference was minimal, so any person with moderate condition should be able to do it – and you should definitely give it a try if you have the chance – the city is amazing!
According to the legend after the fall of Troy in about 1200BCE, seven heores travelled south from the battefields and founded Perge. Positioned on the end of a ridge, close to the Kestros/Aksu river and about 12 km from the open sea, the city was protected from naval attack but could still trade by sea. After Alexander the Great, while the Seleucid dinasty reigned, the city flourished in peace and prosperity and after, under the Roman Empire, the city grew into one of the most beautiful in all of Anatolia.
Only a small part of the city had been excavated, and a lot of it is now in the Antalya Museum, but don’t be fooled when you read that – what you have there is very interesting. Right of the road is a well-preserved stadium, with seating for 12.000 people. The main entrance in flanked by a pair of Hellenistic cylindrical towers – which is just a glimpse of what’s about to come. A public fountain/numphaeum dedicated to Artemis, some early Byzantine churches and a bishop’s palace are just part of the things you can visit.
If you don’t fancy biking there, just take a daytour with any tour operator or a bus to Aksu and then walk the 2 km to the site. It’s definitely worth the visit. For more information about the city, or how this place links up to the rest of the St Paul Trail, have a look on “The St Paul Trail” by Kate Clow on page 51-54.