Didyma (Didim), located just an hour’s drive from the city of Aydin, is a captivating destination that offers more than just a typical summer resort experience. With its rich cultural heritage, golden beaches, and picturesque coves along the coast, Didyma stands out as one of Turkey’s prime holiday destinations. At the heart of this remarkable place lies the Temple of Apollo, a magnificent structure that ranks among the largest and best-preserved temples of the ancient world. Visitors from far and wide were drawn to the “Sanctuary of Oracles” within the Temple of Apollo, seeking glimpses of the future through the cryptic omens delivered by the revered oracles.
The origins of the Temple of Apollo date back to the 8th century BC when it was first constructed. The sanctuary, administered by the Brahchidae lineage claiming descent from the legendary Branchos, gained fame for the accuracy of its predictions. Even visitors from distant lands sought counsel from the oracles on matters of great importance. However, the temple suffered destruction at the hands of the Persians in 494 BC as a punishment for the rebellious Ionians.
Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, the temple was rebuilt on a grander scale around 300 BC. Under the orders of Seleucus, one of Alexander’s commanders, the reconstruction extended over several years. The renewed temple surpassed its predecessor in size and featured various auxiliary structures. However, as Christianity began to spread throughout Anatolia, the reconstruction was abandoned and left unfinished. The new religious beliefs condemned oracles and fortune-telling practices, leading to a decline in the temple’s significance.
Despite the ravages of time and numerous earthquakes, the remnants of the Temple of Apollo continue to exude a sense of its former grandeur. While only a few columns stand upright today, the original structure boasted an impressive 124 columns arranged in double file, with a roof reaching nearly 20 meters in height. The meticulous craftsmanship and ornate decorations speak volumes about the temple’s original splendor.
In ancient times, visitors approached the temple by sea through Panormos Harbour, near present-day Mavisehir, and followed the sacred way adorned with statues. Although many of these statues were later relocated to the British Museum, a few still grace the site. One notable feature that captures visitors’ attention is the petrifying Medusa Head, which has become an emblematic symbol of Didyma.
Beyond the Temple of Apollo, Didyma offers a vibrant atmosphere that extends well beyond the summer season. The presence of expatriate communities, particularly from Britain, has added an international flair to the area. Bustling shopping centers, markets, and supermarkets cater to a diverse range of needs and contribute to the vibrant life of Didyma.
In summary, Didyma is a destination where history, natural beauty, and cultural experiences intertwine. From the awe-inspiring Temple of Apollo to the stunning beaches of Altinkum and the enchanting coves waiting to be explored, this coastal gem offers a wealth of attractions. Whether you seek to immerse yourself in ancient wonders, soak up the sun on golden sands, or delve into bustling local life, Didyma promises an unforgettable journey filled with discoveries and delights.