Side town was one of the ancient ports of Pamphylia on the Mediterranean Sea, located on a tiny peninsula about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Antalya. The word "side" in local Anatolian language meant "pomegranate". Some historians say that the city was settled around 7th century BC and than came under the rule of the Lydians, Persian, Alexander The Great's, Seleucid Empires, Pergamon Kingdom, Romans, Byzantines, and Turks respectively.
Side minted its own coins during the 5th century BC, a sign of strength and richness at that time. In the 4th century BC Alexander the Great captured the city without any fight, this was a peaceful period for whole region. In 190 BC, Side has allied with Antiochus III, king of Syria, and his commander Carthaginian Hannibal to fight against the Rhodian fleet, but they lost the naval battle and the city was occupied. In the 2nd century BC Side became a rich and prosperous city of Pamphylia again thanks to its location and the trade, actually it was a intellectual and cultural center too. In the 1st century BC Side was controlled by pirates and turned into a slave market, but with the arrival of the Romans these pirates had to leave. During the Roman rule, Side lived once more its heydays with its large harbor, trade between Anatolia and other ports of the Mediterranean, its important slave trading market and so on. Under the Byzantine rule, it was an important a Bishop center as well. Arab raids in the 7th century AD destroyed Side and its inhabitants abandoned the city. Side was not a settlement during the Seljuk or Ottoman periods.
Today excavations and studies show that Side was a very important city in the Mediterranean for several centuries. It was surrounded on all four sides by high walls to protect the city from both land and sea. The main gate of the city was built during the Hellenistic period to the east and it was protected by two towers. There were two main streets in the city, with columned porticos and shops behind them.
The Nymphaeum, a large monumental fountain, was built just outside the city wall and opposite the main gate. It had a large pool with ornamented niches, from which the water was flowing out. The city had also a perfect sewage system with terracotta pipes and vaults under the streets.
The square shaped (100 x 100 meters or 330 x 330 feet) Agora, the market place, is surrounded by porticos on four sides with shops under. It's located opposite the museum today. On the south-west corner of the Agora adjacent to the theater, there was a public toilet with a capacity of 24 people, one of the best examples of Roman latrines. A circular temple in the middle of Agora was dedicated to Tyche, god of Fortune. This Commercial Agora was connected to another square-shaped but smaller agora which was called as State Agora and used both for state affairs and slave trade. There was also a Gymnasium surrounded by porticos and composed of three halls, just to the south side of the Agora
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