The Aphrodisias Stadium is One of the Best Preserved

The Stadium at Aphrodisias is One of the Largest and Best Preserved Ancient Stadiums:

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Aphrodisias Stadium

The Stadium at Aphrodisias is located to the north of the ancient city and is one of the best preserved ancient stadiums in the world. Measuring 270 metres in length, its 30 tiers of seating has capacity for 30,000 people, making it one of the largest of ancient stadiums.

Like many visitors, I couldn’t resist retracing the course of those ancient athletes along the long valley between those stone bleachers, although in my case it was more of a leisurely stroll! A stadium for 30,000 people is quite a size, even by today’s standards. Imagine the cheering and noise in this stadium when the games were on.

Stadium for Athletics

The Aphrodisias Stadium was built in the first century A.D. to host athletic contests such as foot races, wrestling, long-jumps and discus and javelin throwing much like the Pythian games in Greece. After an earthquake damaged the Aphrodisias Theatre in the 7th century, the east end of the Stadium was turned into an arena specifically designed for Roman-style entertainment such as battles of the gladiators, circuses and wild-beast fights which were previously staged in the Theatre.

Carved on the seats of the Stadium are numerous inscriptions which provide interesting clues about the reserved space for groups such as the tanners association and goldsmiths association as well as for specific individuals, both males and females. We saw examples of this reservation system at Aspendos Theatre as well.

As Aphrodisias only had a population of around 15,000, this 30,000-seat stadium was built not only for the citizens of Aphrodisias itself, but also of other towns such as nearby Antioch on the Maender (modern Basaran). But today, this 30,000-seater Stadium was quite empty and we had it all to ourselves to imagine how things were in ancient times.

For more photos of Aphrodisias, see Travelsignposts Aphrodisias gallery.

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