By the time Turks reached Miletus, the city’s glory days were long gone. Still, the town was not completely dead as is shown by the construction of this fine mosque which dates to 1403. Recent conservation efforts netted a EuropaNostra award in 2012.
Miletus was the gateway for pilgrims on their way to the nearby oracle at the Temple of Apollo in Didyma. This oracle rivaled the oracle in Delphi in ancient world notoriety. The temple dates to at least the 8th Century BC and was in the charge of a priestly caste known as the Branchids. Following the unsuccessful Milesian support of the Ionian Revolt, both Miletus and the Didyma temple were destroyed – 494 BC – and the Branchids were exiled to Sogdiana at the other end of the Persian Empire – NE Iran. The oracle was resanctified after Alexander the Great pushed the Persians out of Miletus in 334 BC. Miletus became the administrator for the temple, thereafter, annually electing one of its one as a prophet.
From Miletus to Didyma is a 12 mile/24 km road that was known as the Sacred Way. Pilgrims visited both to take part in the annual spring festival known as the Didymeia and to uncover possible cards that fate might have in store for them in the future. The Sacred Way began at the Delphinion which was a shrine to Apollo Delphinos – Apollo in his dolphin incarnation as protector of ships and harbors. The Way then crossed through the center of Miletus flanked by porticoes and proceded through the monumental Market Gate. To see the Market Gate, you will have to go to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
The theater faces one of Miletus’ two harbors, the Theater Harbor, where the ticket office stands today. This is where the original Minoan colonists landed. The other harbor was behind the theater hill and was known as the Lion Harbor. A large monument was erected in honor of Pompey’s victory over the regional pirates in 63 BC. The monument used to stand some 25 feet high. In keeping with political correctness, the monument was rededicated to Augustus after his victory at Actium, a victory which led to Roman conquest of Egypt and a huge increase in shipping for Miletus. Nearby are the faint remains of a synagogue which probably played a role during a visit from St Paul at the end of his missionary trips when he returned to Jerusalem for his last fateful trip, Acts 20: 16-38.
Built originally in the 4th Century BC, the theater was enlarged during the reign of Emperor Trajan in the 2nd Century CE to be able to hold 25,000 people. Seat numbers can still be found on the seats. In the center of the first two rows was a special imperial box. On the fifth row along the south side were seats inscribed as reserved “for Jews called God-worshipers” – Gentiles who sympathized and joined with the local Jewish community but also continued to attend the theater – some which would be unthinkable for Palestinian Jews. Behind the theater atop the hill is a small fort built in Byzantine times.
In various places in Miletus there are necropoli dating from different period and presenting different types.
The lower slopes of the hills of Kalabaktepe is the area the biggest part of the tombs are located. Necropoli of the Archaic, Classic, Hellenistic and Roman periods lie on the lower parts of the south ard south-west slopes of Kalabaktepe in the direction of the Sacred Gate.
In the center of the city can be seen also tombs in the form of Heroon (Monumental tombs) which were generally built for important persons and administrators.
The extant walls and the tower standing on the cavea of the theatre, are the walls for the citadel built during the Byzantine period.
The citadel walls have been fortified with turrets and towers.
The citadel has two gates, one on the east and the other on the west.
The caravanserai is located on the south-eastern part of the theatre and was built in the 15th century.
The two-storey caravanserai includes a courtyard and rooms for lodging.
The lower floor of the building was used as stables, and the upper floor to lodge travellers.
The Sacred gate is standing in the central part of the walls surrounding the south of Miletus.
Here was the place where the Sacred Road leading to the Apollo Temple in Didyma started, that's why this name was given to the gate.
The gate, which is 5 meter wide with strong towers on each side, was built during different periods, from the Archaic period to the Hellenistic and the Roman periods.
Today a great part of the gate is covered by earth and cannot be seen.
The Theatre, erected on the south-west slopes of the hill of Kaletepe is the best preserved building of Miletus.
It was built in the 4th century BC but suffered different modification during the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.
If during the Hellenistic period the theatre could accommodate 5,300 spectators in the Roman period reached a capacity of 25,000 seats.
Like all other ancient theatres, the theatre of Miletus consisted of the stage building, the orchestra and the cavea (seats of the spectators).
Miletus suffered of different modification during the centuries that's why the city presents wall remains which differ widely in construction and location.
The remains from the earliest walls lie under the foundations of the Athena Temple and date from the years 1600-1400 BC.
On the south and south-east slopes of the hill of Kalabaktepe the Archaic walls indicate two separate periods of construction: the southern walls were constructed in poligonal technique and can be dated back to 650 BC, while the wall remains made of stone blocks can be dated back to 550 BC according to their construction technique.
The really important change in the walls is seen in the Byzantine period, when architectural elements from a great number of buildings of Miletus were used as construction material for the Early Byzantine walls, which according to inscriptions were built by Justinian in 538 AD.
Miletus is located near the village of Balat, in the present district of Soke.
The city was founded on a peninsula that was approximately 2.5 km long.
The plan of the city was designed by Hippodamus of Miletus, architect and town planner, which applied to his home city the grid plan which he had developed.
Miletus is a fine example of the grid plan, with houses on blocks created by streets and side streets crossing at right angles and public buildings in the city centre.