Sillyum, situated between Aspendos and Perge in the west, was founded on a hill. Surrounded by steep cliffs, it lies far removed from the sea and rivers. The city never developed as much as Perge and Aspendos, probably because of its distance to the sea.
We know, however, that Sillyum, which was invaded by the Persians before, was spared by Alexander the Great. West of the hill on which Sillyum was established and somewhat elevated are the tower, city gate, cistern, theatre and an odeon (some of which have fallen because of a landslide), as well as a large number of ruins which remain unidentified.
Perge, the last of the Pamphylian cities, was established on a plain between the mountains and the sea. It had access to the sea through the Kestros (Aksu) River and was a major centre of the cult of Artemis, one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities.
When St. Paul and his companions first embarked on their missionary journey the Bible states: “From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perge in Pamphylia...” This verse demonstrates the crucial link of the city to the sea. The gate on the eastern side of the city walls is known as the Port Gate because boats could reach the outskirts of the city from the Kestros River.
Perge was occupied by the Persians in the 6th century BC, while in the 4th century BC it was invaded by the armies of Alexander the Great. The city later came under the rule of the Romans and its ally Pergamon.
Perge was the most affluent city in Pamphylia and this affluence manifested itself in the city’s infrastructure in the 2nd and 3rd century. Since the beginning of the 2nd century, the civic and public buildings of Perge often contained the inscription of Plancia Magna, the high priestess of the Cult of Artemis, belonging to the prominent Plancius family. This family emigrated from their native Italian homeland in the 1st century BC and acquired large tracts of territory in the vicinity of the city. It is known that the family spent a large portion of their income on developing the town’s infrastructure.
Perge is one of the major archaeological sites of Anatolia and the excavations made over half a century reveal a city of immense architectural worth. Perge has one of the largest ancient theatres of the region, a stadium surrounded by barrel-vaulted constructions, monumental city gates, imposing agora, baths, a colonnaded street, and impressive sarcophagi on the western foot of the Acropolis hill.
The River Kestros (Aksu), about ten kilometers south of Perge, offers visitors the opportunity to see remnants of thousands of years of history.