Priene was an ancient Ionian city and a member of Ionian League. It is built on Mount Mycale. It was formerly on the seacoast with terraces overlooking the Aegean Sea from sea level to the high of 380 meters but centuries later, today, it is an inland site.
Ionians came and settled here in 11th century BC. Its population was only 4000- 5000, so Priene didn’t have a great political influence. But the Ionian Leagues central shrine was inside the city’s boundaries, so it was an important holy city.
Priene was situated on a peninsula close to Miletus and it was a city with two ports looking over the sea. But today it is not possible to locate this first city. In 7th century BC, Priene was captured by the Lydians. After one of the seven sages, Philosopher Bias was born in Priene and put the city under the law, Priene lived its golden age in 6th century BC. But golden age ended when Persian King Cyrus attacked and took over the city.
In 350 BC Persian governor Mausolus planned a magnificent new city of Priene but when the constructions began, Macedonians took the area from Persians. But Alexander the Great continued to construct this new city and even paid for the Athena Temple, so it is dedicated to him. After him the leading citizens paid for the other public buildings and the construction completed quickly. The ruins seen today are from this city built by Alexander the Great.
By the 1st century BC, Priene lost its port and open connection to the sea. By 300 AD the entire area except for Lake Bafa lost the connection with open sea and became inland sites. The city has been abandoned because of its increasing distance from the sea. But a Greek village remained even after this. It is called Samson after the Biblical Hero Samson. The area remained under Byzantine rule until 13th century and than Ottoman took over the area. In 1924 the last Greek population moved back to Greece because of the population exchange between Greece and Turkey. Turkish people used only some part of this Greek settlement.