Thursday, September 9, 2010

Olba and a Temple of Zeus

Zeus-Olbios-Tempel, Diokaisareia/Uzuncaburc TürkeiImage via Wikipedia
Time to go off the beaten path...

3000 feet above sea level, in the foothills of the Toros mountain range, along a narrow, winding road (no guardrail) at the end of a pitted, dirt lane strewn with rubble which scraped the bottom of my car, I found Olba

(I think I might have used up all the descriptors for this post with that ridiculous and intentionally too long sentence. Oops! Slipped in some more adjectives!)

Olba is so far off the grid, peasants living near the ancient site use it like their back yard. Who can blame them? It's hard to find a spot there without some sort of ancient something-or-other. You really feel the rural, untouched-by-tourists atmosphere. There are vineyards planted right up to the edge of the ruins, sometimes a shepard might pass through with a herd of sheep or goats. 

I remember once I was visiting the Roman theater of Aspendos and my husband stepped in a cow pie (whole story attached to how that happened). Talk about land mines! If you visit though, please buy something from the villagers. There's a whole cottage industry and the women really do rely on visitors for income.

Back to our historic site of the day!

The modern name of the Olba is Uzuncaburç, which means tall tower, a nod to the Roman lookout tower at the gate and city wall.  The most famous feature of the city though, is the Temple of Zeus. According the Greek historian Strabo, the temple was originally built by the legendary Ajax, a hero of the Trojan war.

30 out of 36 columns still stand, which is pretty good considering it was built in 300 B.C.! The rest of the site is well preserved too because, as with other places of worship, (like the Pantheon in Rome) the temple was also a church for some years.

The people of Olba, not the site, are the connection to my writing.  Go all the way back to my first post, The Seed. The King of Olba was supposedly the man who ordered the castle of KızKalesi, to keep his daughter safe. KızKalesi  is where Sybil's story began for me, seventeen years ago...

For an interesting traveler's account visit My Merhaba or for more great photos visit Dick Osseman (highly recommended if you like ruins).

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1 comment:

LTM said...

supercool... I remember wondering when I visited Europe what it must be like to grow up surrounded by ancient history like that. How it must shape your world view. We don't have that here, and I wish we did...

land mines--love it! :D


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