We depart fort he ancient cities of Didyma, Miletus and Priene. In ancient times, Didyma was linked to Miletus by a sacred way. Like Claros, this was a sacred dedicated to Apollo and the seat of an oracle, but it dwarfs Claros. With a double-colonnade of over 150 columns, the temple can only be described as stupendous. Its design was so over-ambitious that work continued in it for 500 years without ever being completed. Miletus is a much larger and more important city and for many centuries was an extraordinary center of intellectual ferment. Beginning in the late 7th century BC, the city produced a succession of distinguished figures, including the philosophers Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes, who are generally credited with the invention of true, scientific inquiry, and the architect and town-planner Hippodamus, who if he did not actually invent the grid-plan, gave it a new sophistication and popularity. The destruction of Miletus in 479 BC by the Persians presented him with a golden opportunity, enabling him to redesign the city according to rational principles. Although Miletus has suffered many vicissitudes since (including the silting up of its harbor), the broad outlines of his plan, which was centered on three spacious agoras, are still visible. Other notable Milesians are the geographer Hecataeus, the enterprising and highly intelligent courtesan Aspasia, who became the mistress of Pericles and the friend of Socrates, and the architect Isodoros who, along with Anthemius of Tralles, designed Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia. Fort he non-specialist, the site’s most striking features are the Roman theatre, the vast Baths of Faustina and the exquisite early 15th century Mosque of Ilyas Bey. Hermogenes, the architect of the temple of Artemis Leukophryene (Artemision) at Magnesia and noted aeshetic thinker whose work centered on the issue of rationally based architectural proportions, was a native of Priene, which is our next point of call. This is perhaps the most enchanting of the Ionian sites and has a fine location situated on the slopes of Mount Mycale. It is not an especially large site, but that only adds to its charm. Virtually everything you will see at priene dates from the Hellenistic period, since the Romans largely ignored the city. It is thus a perfect example of a Hellenistic city with a Hippodamian grid plan.
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– Air conditioned luxury minivan with driver on tours
– Professional guiding on tours
– Lunches on tours
– All admission fees to the museums and sights
– Drinks during the lunches
– Not mandatory but customary tips