The hill that dominates Assos, and which is the location of the upper part of the village plus the primary site of the ruins of the ancient city, afford excellent views of the surrounding area as well as the Greek island of Lesbos.
The modern village of Assos is an attractive, picturesque village made of beautiful, nicely crafted and decorated stone houses. It includes the Iskele area on the water (see my tip on that) and another portion, mostly houses and a mosque, on the hill at the ancient acropolis, on the site of the ancient core of the town. The portion on the hill is the focus of this tip.
Some of the houses are old, others new, and quite a few new houses were being built in the same style when we were there. Stonemasons were carefully crafting the stones for placement, while houses include interesting, simple decoration in the form of varying patterns for some stones and tiles placed in the walls in different patterns.
Some of them have been turned into pansiyonlar (pensions).
Just north of Assos/Behramkale (southern Canakkale Province) next to the road between it and Ayvacik is a 14th-century Ottoman Bridge. Although no longer used on the main road, it is, like most Ottoman bridges, in excellent condition due to its solid construction. It is also, again as is common with Ottoman bridges, a graceful structure. One can see it also from the village and acropolis on top of the hill.
If you continue to travel downhill along the road from the theatre, you'll come to the small harbour. From antiquity until the 1950s this was a small but busy commercial port, with two bakeries, two hotels, warehouses for the acorns collected from local forests and a customs office along the dock. When exports from here stopped in 1950 these buildings remained empty until the early 1980s, when excavations began at Assos. This brought new vitality to Behramkale. The old buildings were restored and converted into hotels and restaurants, while bars, a discotheque and camping sites were opened.
The 5,000 seat theatre, lying to the south of and below the Agora, was built entirely from local andesitic rock. Typical for a construction in the Greek age is the union of a location on a natural slope with the orientation towards a panoramic view and this theatre has one of the best views with the sea in the distance. In Roman times, the building received a two-storey stage. The orchestra at the base is surrounded by a channel to drain off rain water. On the seats are four inscriptions, three of them are connected to the guilds of smiths, tanners and stone masons while the four refers to members of the cult of Sarapis. These inscriptions indicate that these seats were reserved for such groups and guilds. Holes along the outer edge of the seat ranges served to receive posts for a sunshade. The theatre was constructed between the 4th and 3rd century BC and its use continued in Roman times.
The city hall of Assos has a square ground plan. The roof was carried by four columns standing inside the building. The entrance to the building is situated on the west towards the Agora, where the space between the columns was closed off by a balustrade. The other three walls have no openings. The interiors was most likely furnished with wooden tiered seats along the three side walls. The columns used in this building were plain, without vertical fluting and belong to the Doric Order. According to an inscription found in the building, the bouleuterion was built in the 4th century BC.
The Stoae, two corridors with columns, located to the south and north of the Agora, were constructed to protect people from rain and sun and served as meeting points for traders, merchants and the wealthy. The north Stoa had two storeys and was 111.52m long and 12.42m wide. Steps ran along the entire front of it. The interior columns of its hall, erected in the Doric Order, were unfluted, while the exterior columns along the front, however, were fluted. The upper storey was carried by strong wooden beams. Both Stoae were built around the middle of the 2nd century BC.
This is the most important space of an ancient city which was a public area where people could meet to conduct economic and political transactions. The Agora required only an open space in which the population could convene. The Assos Agora was located between the eastern and western living quarters, immediately adjoining the theatre. It is situated on an important street intersection where the streets running from east, west and from the harbour join. On the south side, a small temple was constructed which later on, during the 5th or 6th centuries, was remodelled as a church. On the east side of the Agora stood the bouleuterion (city hall). Two stoae stretched along the north and south sides and immediately below the south stoa, a bath was constructed in Roman times.
At the west entrance to the Agora is a prostylos temple with dimensions of 16.50 x 10 m., resting on a podium. Only the foundations of the building, that is thought to have been converted into a small church after the 5th century AD, have remained until today.
This complex consists of a large courtyard surrounded by several buildings and shady roofs. Before the 4th century BC, the site where boys were trained in sports, music, literature and philosophy had been located in a wooded area. According to an inscription, the gymnasium was built in the 2nd century AD. Underneath the courtyard a cistern was dug to secure the water supply for the boys. During the early Byzantine age, the northern part of the complex was converted to a large church with a mosaic floor. The church was uncovered in 1881 by the first excavators.
The Necropolis stretches from east of the city to the west, however, only the area outside the western gate has been excavated and studied. The oldest graves are pithos (large clay vessels) burials. The dead were placed inside in a foetal position and usually such vessels were laid on bedrock on their sides, with the opening oriented towards the east and closed with a stone. The oldest graves of this type date to the middle of the 7th century BC. In the 6th century BC the first cist graves appear, in the 5th century BC the first sarcophagi - of which continued into the Byzantine era. The oldest paves road of the Necropolis, leading towards the western gate of the city, was constructed in the 6th century BC. During the Roman age, two further roads seem to have been built west of it.
The acropolis of Assos, built on a hill dominating both sea and land is about 238 metres above the sea-level and is surrounded by walls about 3Km in length. The hill offers spectacular views of the Aegean sea and the nearby Greek island of Lesbos.
This is the main site at the top of the hill in the acropolis of Assos. It is the only Archaic temple in the Doric Order known so far in Asia Minor. Erected between 540 and 530 BC, the building was in use into the Hellenistic age. The dimensions of the temple are 30m by 14.3m; the long sides have 13 columns each, the short sides 6 columns each. The friezes consist of 5 blocks and show mythological scenes of gods, heroes and animal battles. Their fragments are now in museums at Canakkale, Istanbul, Boston and the Louvre in Paris. There's a model of how the temple would have looked beside the ruins.
After you enter through the entrance gate that's on top of the hill beside the old village, one of the first things you'll come to are the old cisterns which was were water was stored in ancient times.
This small mosque sits right at the top of the hill, looking down over the surrounding countryside to the north and the old village of Behramkale below. It has the same name as the old stone bridge that lies just to the north, off the main road that leads to the old village and was, like the bridge, also built in the 14th century. Unfortunately it wasn't open when I visited so I couldn't take some photos from inside.