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Cnidos Ancient City

Cnidos Ancient City

The ancient city of Cnidos has the most impressive ruins on the peninsula and was the most advanced city in terms of science, architecture and arts.

The famous astrologist and mathematician Eudoksus, the physician Euryphon, the famed artist Polygnotos and the architect, Sostratos who built the Lighthouse of Alexandria - one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - all lived here.

The city of Cnidos was established on terraces that slope down to the sea on the mainland peninsula known as Deveburnu (Camel's Hump), formerly an island. In order to link the island to the mainland artificial ports were created an both sides which served to divide the two harbours from each other. The smaller, used as the military harbour, had two round control towers and lies to the west. The control tower in the south is still standing. The larger, used as the main commercial harbour, is situated to the east.

There is a museum at the entrance to the site and lodging facilities for staff. This point is now at the furthest end of the peninsula. If one cove gets the wind the other one is calm. The view from the ancient city of Cnidos looks out over where the Aegean Sea and the Mediterrenean Sea meet at the Datca Peninsula. The city was surrounded with defensive walls four kilometres long that partly follow the route of the path. Beyond the walls stretches an extensive necropolis about seven kilometres in length. The style of construction and appearance of the round and square towers, which the ancient city was interspersed with, would seem to fit in best with the time of King Mausolos of Halicarnassos.

Cnidos had two theatres, one with a capacity of 20,000 and the other containing 5,000 seats. The larger theatre was on the top of the hill. Since its marble and stones were removed in the 19th century there are few trace of its remains left. The smaller theatre is near to the inner port. The Temple of Aphrodite overlooks both ports and is the most beautiful part of the ruins. The circular temple is 17 metres in diameter. The doors of the temple opened towards the centre where the statue of Aphrodite stood. Now just a block of stone can be seen. The sundial invented by Eudoksus is one of the interesting points of this ancient site. At this historic site, it measured the time and also the seasons.

The Corinthian-style Temple of Apollon was built by the architect Stratos and is situated on the top of the hill above the theatre. There was once a Doric Temple that was later converted into an early Christian church. The colorful mosaic floors of the churches can still be seen. The Stoa, constructed by the famous architect Sostratus, is 113 metres long. 16 metres wide and contained rooms measuring 5x3.80 metres. All of the rooms used to open up to the south. 

The city of Cnidos became rich in the 6th century and it built for itself a marble Treasury at Delphi. The city controlled the whole of the Datca Peninsula, when the Persians were expanding their empire towards the Aegean Sea around 540 BC. Cnidos had its most impressive time in the Hellenistic period (330-31 BC). 

Many stamped amphora handles from Cnidos have been found at Athens, Delos and Alexandria (in Egypt) as well as in the northern Black Sea region. They all bear witness to the major role the city played in the export of wine and olive oil. Knidos also became an important centre for pottery production from the 2nd century onwards. In the 7th century AD Knidos was damaged by Arab raids from the sea. Later Cnidos also suffered many devastating earthquakes and it is probably for this reason that the city was eventually abandoned.

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