Side - Manavgat
Side was not only the most important harbour of Pamphylia in ancient times, but also of the Mediterranean region. Established on a peninsula, its magnificent theatre, agora (market area), a monumental fountain, and the remains of baths used as a museum today, parts of city walls and the colonnaded street are still quite well preserved. Located at the south-eastern end of the peninsula, the Apollo Temple was restored by clearing the surrounding area and by lifting up a few of its columns. Nowadays this monument is a preferred venue for hosting cultural events. And of course 30 kilometres away from the city, parts of the huge aqueduct carrying water from the springs of the Melas (Manavgat River) remain standing today.
The harbour of Side often silted up making shipping very difficult, and required continual dredging to keep it open—so much so that in ancient times the Roman phrase ‘a harbour of Side’ was used to refer to a job that is never done.
In 190 BC, the people of Side witnessed the naval battle and defeat of the Carthaginian general Hannibal against the navy of the city state of Rhodes, who were allied with the Romans. The symbol of the city was the “pomegranate” which was prominently inscribed on coins and monuments.Side could not offer resistance against Alexander the Great, who entered the region in the second half of the 4th century BC and whose inhabitants gave in to all the demands of this powerful king. According to sources, Alexander turned towards Aspendos when he learned that the people of Side had yielded to his demands.
Alongside the piracy activities mentioned in the Alanya section above, it is also written that the largest slave market was set up in Side and that the inhabitants of Side made a lot of profit from the slave trade though they were castigated by neighbouring cities. It is not difficult to guess that the rulers of Side erected a statue of Pompeius, who cleared the area of pirates, in order to whitewash their sins.
Side was weakened in the 3rd and 4th century by the pillaging of the Isaurians living in the Taurus Mountains and even by the Scythians who descended down from the Black Sea. The Arab raids, which began to be seen all over the Mediterranean during the 7th century, contributed to its decline and subsequent abandonment.The caravans carried people, goods and wealth from the port of Side to inward regions of the Taurus Mountains. The identity of this magnificent city rested on the trade between the coast and the mountains and on the unquestionable capability of its people.
Today Side is the central city of a well-planned touristic region. It has many hotels, shopping centres, entertainment and sports facilities and a vibrant nightlife. Together with its natural and historical attractions, Side is enjoyed by tourists from all walks of life.
Manavgat and Surroundings
Manavgat River is one of the major rivers of the Mediterranean coast and divides Manavgat district into two. The first bridge in Manavgat was built during the Republican era and the river also affected the allocation of village plateaus. Whatever shore the village was situated on also determined the location of its plateau.
The Pamphylian town of Side is enclosed by long sandy beaches on both sides. With numerous hotels lined along Sorgun to its east and Ilıca and Kumköy to its west, the region has been transformed into one of the major tourism centres of the Mediterranean. The beachesseem endless to the visitor and the extraordinary mountain/highland geography emphasise this feeling. The river symbolises dynamism that adds to the vitality of the region and where people’s lives are directly intertwined with it. Manavgat is a boon for those interested inculture and leisure.