Every year thousands upon thousands of tourists flock to explore the ruins at Ephesus.
A fraction of that number go on to explore Aphrodisias but barely a handful of visitors take in the ruins at Nysa near Sultanhisar, even though this is a wonderful site in a wonderful location, and is perfect for those who appreciate being able to wander around a beautiful historic setting in peace and quiet. Iíve only just discovered its existence!
On the slopes overlooking a ravine, Nysa rose to prominence under the Romans and was home for a while to the historian Strabo (63 B.C.-A.D. 25
It's not hard to get to Nysa, since regular buses (and a few trains) from Aydın travel to Sultanhisar, a sleepy little town whose inhabitants mainly make their living from farming. The ruins lie scattered about the hillside three kilometers above town, which means you could easily walk there if it's not too hot
It's the theater that is the real jewel in Nysa's crown. Capable of accommodating a capacity crowd of around 12,000 in 35 rows of marble seats, it survives largely intact above the tunnel. The same is equally true at many other Turkish archeological sites, of course, but what makes Nysa so particularly special is that many of the carvings that used to decorate its stage also survive when elsewhere they have long since fallen prey to the vagaries of time.
From the theatre a short walk round to the far side of the ravine will bring you to the glorious site of the ancient agora, where a handful of columns have been picturesquely re-erected. Nearby, it would be easy to miss the second major attraction behind an enclosing wall. The almost perfectly preserved Bouleuterion a place where the elders would have gathered, 600-800 of them at a time. Itís a theater-in-miniature, consisting of 12 rows of marble seats, grouped in a semi-circle and facing a small stage where speakers could have held forth. The doorposts are carved with bull's heads and swags of marble foliage.
Nysa's third gem is back on the other side of the ravine, where a flight of uneven steps lead up to a stretch of cobbled Roman road striking out into the olive groves. To the left, a side street branches off toward an open-fronted library that has been described as ďthe most important in Anatolia after the Library of Celsus at Ephesus.Ē Here books were once lovingly shelved in niches with a space for air left open at the back so that they wouldn't suffer from the high humidity of summer.
There are regular minibus services from Aydınís bus station to Sultanhisar. Taxis wait at the junction to run people up to the ruins. You can walk back or make an arrangement to be picked up once you've finished exploring.
Itís a site which is well worth the effort to visit when you are in the Central Aegean Region. Nysa is certainly on our Ďmust seeí list now!