By Bilal Altiok
BURDUR, Turkey (AA) - Over 27,000 tourists have visited an ancient city, known as city of love and emperors, located in southwestern Turkey in the first half of 2019.
The Sagalassos ancient city in Burdur’s Aglasun district is at some 1,750 meters higher than the sea level and dates back to 5,000 years ago.
The archeological site, which has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List since 2009, offers the best samples of Roman-era architecture.
Excavation works in Sagalassos -- Roman buildings which have been protected after being covered under the ground due to a strong earthquake in seventh century A.D. and which did not allow a modern settlement due to its high location -- was initiated in 1989 under the leadership of Belgian Professor Marc Waelkens from Catholic University.
The ancient city is mesmerizing the visitors with its Antonin Fountain, agoras, Roman baths, macellum (marketplace) buildings, a heroon (shrine) with images of dancing girls carved on its walls, library and theatres.
- Thousands of visitors
According to the figures of Burdur governorship, a total of 27,740 people have visited Sagalassos in the first half of 2019.
The number for the same period was 17,548 visitors last year, while the number of visitors for the whole year stood at 51,045.
Peter Talloen from Suleyman Demirel University in Turkey’s Isparta province joined the excavation work in 1995. Talloen told Anadolu Agency that there had been a city site since Hellenistic period (323-30 B.C.).
Noting that the ancient city was discovered by a British citizen in 19th century, Talloen said: “This place has a title of being the most important city in Pisidia region. But despite this feature, the population of the Sagalassos had stood between 3,500-5,000 throughout the history.”
He noted that the city was discovered in a good condition due to the height where it is located.
“It is a big opportunity for us, archeologists. We are able to bring the last days of the Sagalassos to light,” he said, adding that the buildings were coming out almost fully intact and they were erecting the buildings again.
Talloen said that there are two important fountains in the ancient city, one of which is a doric fountain, which still delivers the water coming from the mountains.
He added that the second one is the Antonin Fountain, 85% of original stones of which have been found.
Talloen recalled that the fountain was opened to visit after renovation in 2010 and said there are also a large bath and many temples.
He noted that most of the buildings belonged to the Roman Empire period.
Also speaking about the ancient theater, which is located at some 1,600 meters above the sea level, Talloen said it is one of the highest located theaters in the world and added: “The theatre’s capacity is thought to be around 9,000 people.
"Since the Sagalassos was a cultural center in Roman Empire, some buildings were built larger than the population. An Anatolian nation, Pisidians, were living here,” he added.
- ‘Hidden pearl’
Aglasun Mayor Ali Ulusoy told Anadolu Agency that the ancient city is “a hidden pearl awaiting to be explored.”
Stating that the excavation works have been ongoing for over the past 30 years, Ulusoy added: “Our aim for the number of visitors is to reach 100,000 this year.”
Zeynep Oztan, a local tourist coming from Istanbul, said the Sagalassos is an impressive place and she had a journey into the ancient times while wandering around the city.
“Here is a positive energy, energy of the Antonin Fountain is incredible. I’m thinking of coming again,” Sencer Selman, another tourist said.