We start our trip to Kütahya with a visit to the historic Roman ruins of Aizanoi with the Temple of Zeus near the village of Çavdarhisar. The site is about 60 km from the Kütahya city centre and to the south on the road to Uşak.
Surprisingly, and given its significance, this site is not as well known as many other historical sites in Turkey. When visiting Kütahya province it would be such a shame if you missed this one out.
Aizanoi is the ancient Greek name of Aezani, a Phrygian city in western Anatolia. This would have been an important centre of government and regional economy during Roman times.
As you get near to the historic site be sure to stop at the ruins of the old market place or Macellum. This would have been a market complex for luxury goods of high value and fish, meats, game animals, as well as exotic sauces, vegetables and fruits would have all been sold here. The Macellum is also recognised as one of the worlds first stock exchanges.
The river alongside the site is littered with historic stones from what would have been part of the buildings nearby. From here we move on to the main archaelogical site of the Zeus Temple at Aizanoi. This is a very rare example of a well preserved ancient building. There has been no reconstruction here. What you see is what has remained and apart from the three columns which had to be re erected after an earthquake in 1970 this structure is one of the worlds best preserved Roman temples. The temple would have been one of the main religious centres in the area. Construction commenced in the latter half of the 2nd century AD after being commissioned by the Emperor Hadrian.
The temple has the stamp of the ruler of the Olympians – Zeus. However there is an underground section which has the barrel shaped vaults of the Romans. The temple lies directly over this vault. In the surrounding fields you can find evidence of some magnificent structures. Marble columns, plinths and ancient friezeS and statues litter the surrounding area. Excavation and renovations still have a lot to do here before the full glory and splendour of this ancient site can be realised. In its prime it would have been home to around 80,000 inhabitants.
After you have seen the temple you should head back to the visitor centre and follow the track alongside it to the main amphitheatre with a seating capacity of 15,000 and ancient ruins which include two Roman baths and colonnaded street stretching for 450 m. We took the long way round through a half abandoned village by following the dirt road alongside the temple. Our next stop is the city of Kütahya.