Turkey, The Temple of Apollo at Didyma

TURKEY - Didyma

It was day four already, three days had carelessly slipped through our fingers almost without noticing like sand spilling through an hour glass  so today we decided to do something different and walk to the ancient site of the Temple of Apollo at the northern end of Didim (previously called Didyma).

This was a long way which required walking once more along the Kemal Atatürk Boulevard but on this occasion there was no option to give up half way along because to get to the temple we had to walk the full six kilometres or so, uphill all the way with the midday sun getting hotter and hotter.  To be absolutely honest however we couldn’t make it all the way without taking a break half way along the route.

Finally we began the final approach to the ruins of the ancient site which were predictably surrounded by tourist shops selling all manner of cheap rubbish and carpet shops selling all manner of expensive floor coverings.  The owner was quite persistent that we should go inside and seemed quite unable to interpret our response that we had come to Turkey for a holiday and not to buy a carpet not least because we were travelling skinflint class on Monarch Airlines and only had a ten kilogram baggage allowance.

Temple Didyma Turkey

We carried on to the entrance and then paid the entrance fee of ten Turkish Lira (about £3.50) and then went inside where there was a crowd of people whose attention was grabbed by two mating tortoises.  I have often wondered how they manage this so I was intrigued to watch the smaller male chasing the love of his life and head butting her rear end to get her attention until he had her wedged in a crevice and could have his wicked way.  She wasn’t very attractive I have to say and after all that head butting and finally getting a good look at her I am surprised he didn’t suddenly claim to have a headache and show no further interest!

With the tortoise bonking show over the assembled crowd dispersed and we carried on down the steps and into the ancient site.  Next to Delphi in Greece, Didyma was the most important oracle of the Hellenic world, first mentioned among the Greeks in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo.

Temple of Apollo Didyma

This place would have been huge, one hundred and twenty columns, fifteen metres high and each taking an estimated twenty thousand man days (fifty-five years) to cut and erect.  It was never completely finished however because during the construction process the money kept running out but if it had been then it is said that this would have been one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in precedence over the Temple of Artemis at nearby Ephesus.

It is claimed by some to be the finest single ancient monument in this part of Turkey and this is a part of Turkey which has an awful lot of ancient monuments.  I can confirm that it is very impressive indeed although little of the original structure remains standing; it was destroyed by the Persians in 494 BC, ravaged by time, rearranged by earthquakes and plundered over the centuries for convenient building material, but regardless of the damage I found this to be a stimulating place with history literally oozing out of the cracks and fissures in  the columns and the stones.

Didyma Turket 01

At the centre of the structure was the inner temple and in ancient times the only person to go inside was the Oracle who would take water from a sacred natural spring and then deliver predictions and advice.  In Classical Antiquity an Oracle was a person considered to interface wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future. Oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods spoke directly to people.  Some now believe the water contained something that induced a hypnotic or psychedelic state in the drinker.  Alcohol probably!

We walked around the entire site and then as we left and read the information boards it was suddenly time to feel guilty again.  Apparently there were once statues and friezes surrounding the temple but at some point British archaeologists uncovered them and carted them away and they are now in the British Museum.  I felt my palms getting sweaty, my pulse rate increasing and an Elgin Marbles moment coming on!

Kim at Didyma Turkey

Our plan now was to walk back the way that we had come but a convenient Dolmus came by just as we approached a bus stop and neither of us had the willpower to resist the lure of a ride back to the apartment.  The cost of a Dolmus ride is a flat rate two Turkish Lira and this particular fare turned out to be very good value indeed as it took us back via a long winded circuitous route which provided us with a thorough introduction to the town.

By late afternoon we were ready for a swim so we took the track to Paradise beach, which today, in contrast to only the day before was almost completely deserted.  This might have been because it was a week day or because the holiday season was now over or it might have been because today the sea was rather rough and agitated with a keen wind that whipped up the surface into waves and which made swimming rather difficult.

In addition to the wind it was becoming increasingly cloudy now so we dried ourselves off and took the track back to the apartment where we closed the door behind us, prepared a second self-catering evening meal (kofti meat balls in a spicy tomato sauce with rice and salad) and over a few hands of cards worried about the weather for the next day.

Walking in Altinkum Turkey


28 responses to “Turkey, The Temple of Apollo at Didyma

  1. It is not just any author that can weave in turtle bonking into a tour of massive historical ruins. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Blimey – where did you exchange your currency, or was this an old travel from a couple of years ago?


  3. I marvel at those huge columns of stone, transported, cut, a temple constructed all without the machinery we have today. Boggles the mind. Overwhelmingly fantastic.
    Seems the turtles almost stole the show. 😀 😀 😀


  4. I have always been interested in the oracles and wanted to visit one of their lairs.


  5. Pingback: Entrance Tickets, The Temple of Apollo at Didyma | Have Bag, Will Travel

  6. Thanks for sharing !!!


  7. Disappointed that you didn’t film the tortoises. Good quality tortoise-porn is so difficult to come by nowadays.


    • Not often you see a tortoise these days. I remember friends John and Michael Sparks having a tortoise with a hole drilled in its shell and then attached to a piece of string and the other end to a stake in the garden. Every Autumn they had to put it away to hibernate. They used to do the same on Blue Peter but they wouldn’t be allowed to do it now!


  8. Sounds like a grand day out, from tortoise bonking to old ruins and from swimming to kofti. Your continuing dedication to avoiding a few pennies on transport is becoming legendary matched however by our own similar avoidance in Kathmandu. It has become embarrassing how Champa tongue lashes Taxi drivers in their native language but for some, a joy to watch as it’s so unexpected from a female tourist!


    • I learnt this from my Dad.

      When I was a boy (about 10 or so) we used to go to the football at Filbert Street in Leicester combined with a visit to his parents.

      Very close to my grandparents house there was a bus stop with a direct service into the city but dad rather cunningly always started out for the match at a time that was certain not to coincide with the bus timetable. I never caught on to this little trick of course .

      It turns out that dad just didn’t like paying bus fares which he considered to be an unnecessary expense.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Ah, the joys of being British abroad! I get that embarrassed feeling too quite often. However, I have never come across bonking tortoises so you are one up on me there 😀


  10. Much enjoyed, great writing and humour, and beautiful photos of an amazing temple.


  11. Realizing that it takes 20,000 man days to build one column, really puts it into perspective, Andrew. And I’ve never seen turtles mate but I imagine its something like a couple of Sherman tanks going at it! –Curt


  12. The Capitols on those pillars still standing are the Ionic capitols same as the Greek, so I presume that they were built after the Iliad of Homer.


    • I think most things were built after Homer! I remember studying the Illiad at first year university.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I picked up a Penguin Classic of the Iliad (Dr E.V, Rieu) at Melbourne Airport must have been around 1960/61 I was about 26/27 at the time, I became hooked. I still have the original, plus other copies, all translations of course. I got hooked on Greek mythology and one thing led to another and I have all sorts of books on the subject now.
        I missed out on uni, lucky to even get 3 and half years secondary.


  13. The aerial view of it is quite impressive. This is one site I did not see, and it does look worth a visit. It is disappointing that so often fabulous structures were robbed of their materials, but totally understandable. There is a place in Jordan, Umm Qais, where the adjacent village, constructed entirely of scavenged materials from the Roman Ruins, is also so old and remarkable that it is an attraction unto itself.


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