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Kyzikos (Cyzicus)

The ruins are freely accessible just off the road from Bandirma (14km) to Erdek (7km)

The Temple of Hadrian at Kyzikos has been described as “the eighth wonder of the world”. Along with Smyrna and Ephesus, Kyzikos is said to have been one of the cities in Asia Minor where Emperor Hadrian (rAD117–138) allowed a temple to be built in his honour, though they may also have been didicated to Zeus. This monumental building was supported by columns more than 21 metres tall, topped with what were perhaps the largest Corinthian capitals ever sculpted, one of which, 2.5 metres high, was unearthed in 2013. An archaeological team under Nurettin Koçhan of Atatürk University, who made the discovery, is hoping to find what they believe to be the rest of the temple. Already parts of a frieze have come to light, and it is hoped that the figure of Hadrian himself will appear. The ruins, including an exceptionally large amphitheatre, lie in marshlands on the narrow landward side of the Kapıdağ Peninsula, once an island, between Bidırma and Erdek,

The ancient city of Kyzikos may have been named after a local king, killed by mistake by his friend Jason and the returning Argonauts. it was one of the earliest Greek settlements on the coast. In 190 BC it came under the Pergamene Kingdom and after it fell to Rome in 133BC it grew to importance as the capital of Mysia. By the Middle Ages the community had migrated to nearby Erdek, and many of the stones were taken off for buildings elsewhere. A former governor of Syria, Hadrian was a philhellene and patron of the arts, and a giant statue of the Emperor was discovered by Professor Marc Waelken in the ruins of the Imperial Baths of Sagalassos in 2007, described in Cornucopia 48. Hadrian’s Gate in Antalya is further evidence of Hadrian’s empire that extended from his wall on the Scottish borders to Asia Minor and beyond.

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Issue 59, June 2019 Behind Closed Doors
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