Aydin was once Tralles, an important Roman scholastic town. Today, despite its palm-lined boulevards and multitude of mosques, Aydin is more worthwhile as a base from which to explore the ruins of Nyssa than as an attraction in itself.
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Buses connect Aydin to: Bodrum (2hr.; 10:15am, 2, 3:30pm; $3.60); Fethiye (5hr., 8 per day 8:30am-11:30pm, $5.20); Istanbul (1hr., 5 per day 6am-midnight, $12); Kuşadası (1hr., every 10min. 6am-10pm, $1.60); Marmaris (2hr., 14 per day 9:30am-10:30pm, $4). For Pamukkale, take a Denizli bus and switch to a dolmuş at the Denizli otogar. From the gar at the intersection of Adnan Menderes Bul. and Gençlik Cad., trains run to: Denizli (3hr., 3 per day 12:15-9:40pm, $1.60); Söke (1hr.; 9:30am, 12:30pm; $.60); İzmir (Basmane station; 3hr., 6 per day 6am-5:50pm, $1.60). İstanbul can be reached via Denizli, and Selçuk, via İzmir.
ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION
The center of Aydin stretches along Adnan Menderes Bul., which runs north-south on a long hill (800ni). At a large traffic circle at the bottom of the hill (the southern end), Adnan Menderes Bul. meets Denizli Bul. The otogar is a short distance from that intersection on Denizli Bul. Restaurants, shops and banks line Adnan Menderes Bul. At the northern end of Adnan Menderes Bul., Gazi Bul. runs east west. From the west, Gençlik Cad. meets Adnan Menderes Bul. 100m south of Gazi Bul.
The tourist office is on the southeast comer (diagonally from the otogar) of the roundabout where Adnan Menderes Bul. meets Denizli Bul. Staffers speak limited English but distribute helpful Aydin maps. (211 27 74; fax 211 28 61. Open May- Oct. 15 8am-noon and 1:30-5:30pm; Oct. 16-April 8am-noon and 1-5pm.) 24hr. MC/ V ATMs and TC Ziraat Bankası are at the intersection of Adnan Menderes Bul. and Gençlik Cad. The police (225 25 06 or 225 25 07) are on Aydin Denizli Yolu, 500m past the tourist office in the direction opposite the otogar. The local hospital, the SKK Hastenesl (212 92 22), is 400m past the otogar on Denizli Bul., walking away from the tourist office. When heading north on Adnan Menderes Bul., turn left at Gençlik Cad. and walk about 50m to get to the PTT. (Open daily for phones Sam- midnight, postal services 9am-5pm.)
Postal code: 09000.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND FOOD
Most accommodations are on Adnan Mederes and Gazi Bul. The Orhan Hotel O, 63 Gazi Bul., is a 20min. walk from the bus station or a short taxi ride. Orhan has clean, large, nicely furnished rooms with A/C, TV and private bath. Some rooms have terraces overlooking the bustling streets below. (»212 17 13; fax 225 17 81. Breakfast included. Singles $9.60; doubles $12.80; triples $17.60.) The Baltacı Otel 0,3 Sok., No. 17, is to the right on Gazi Bul. after you walk up Adnan Menderes Bul. Take your first right just after Ramazan Paşa Mosque. Baltacı offers spacious rooms with slightly worn-out furniture and old but tidy bathrooms. (225 13 20. Breakfast $1. $5.60 per person.)
Adnan Menderes Bul. is full of ice cream parlors and vendors selling dondurma, the gooey wonder that is Turkish ice cream ($.20-.80 per cone). Notable among these is the posh, A/C Öz Süt O, 91/A Adnan Menderes Bul. (212 73 99. Open daily 8:30am-lam.) Plenty of restaurants offering Turkish cuisine also line this street. Kervan Kebap ve Pide Salonu O, 46/A Adnan Menderes, a few doors up the hill from Kervansaray, is the place to go for Turkish pizza with meat or cheese ($.80) and even egg on top ($.20 extra). Şiş kebap costs $1.60. (213 36 94. Open daily 8am- 11pm.) Kervansaray O, 36 Adnan Menderes Bul., serves İskender kebap for $1.60, çorba for $.60, and rice pudding for $.80. (212 88 79. Open daily 8am-11pm.)
The Süleyman Bey Camii is next to the gar (train station) at the intersection of Adnan Menderes Bill, and Gençlik Cad. Notable for the muqamas (stalactite-esque decoration) on its two outer vaults, the mosque also boasts detailed floral brushwork and arabesques that grace the central dome. The Ramazan Paşa Camii, 1 block north of the Süleyman Bey Camii, at the intersection of Gazi Bul. and Adnan Menderes Bul., witnessed the meeting held on May 22,1919, that began the Turkish War of Independence. This mosque has simple stained-glass windows and a central dome finished with ornate leaf-like gilding from Turkey’s Baroque period.
Tralles, an ancient city known in Roman times for its wealth, lies just north of Aydm. Little remains today; the most prominent features are the Üç Göz (Three Arches), which were once part of the gymnasium’s vaults. The ruins offer a spectacular hew of Aydin and the surrounding mountains. To get to Tralles, catch the dolmuş to Topyataga (15min., every 15min. 7am-11pm, $.50) from the comer of Adnan Menderes Bul. and Denizli Yolu. Once there, walk the 1km uphill.
The Aydin Lisesi, 300m past the PTT on Gençlik Cad., hosts the town’s annual traditional dance festival in late June, drawing international children’s dance teams.
DAYTRIP FROM AYDIN
About 30km from Aydin lies ancient Nyssa (in Turkish, Nysa, pronounced “Nee-sa”), which was built in the 3rd century BC in two parts, divided by a river. Once home to such thinkers as the Stoic philosopher Apollonius, Nyssa now boasts some fairly intact ruins. Just before the site entrance are the poorly preserved library and the gymnasium. The stadium, built to accommodate 30,000 spectators, is situated at the bottom of the ravine, just past the entrance.
Seats at the northern end are visible. Most striking is the large theater, on the main road 50m past the entrance gate. In Roman days, theater-goers passed through vomitoria (archways) on both sides before going to their seats. Across the road from the theater, a circuitous dirt path leads down into a large ravine and through a 115m long tunnel, which used to channel the city’s water supply. Walking through to the other side brings you back to the main road.
Continue and you’ll pass the remains of nine vaulted shops on your left and the less recognizable remains of the market basilica directly across from the shops. Signs point the way to the bouleterion, the smaller theater whose entrance gates are still intact. The agora, farther up from the bouleterion, contains impressive remains of ancient drainage gullies and three standing Ionic columns. Beneath a thin layer of dirt in the excavated corner of the agora are remnants of the original mosaic floor. The rains of a Roman bathhouse lie beyond the agora and bouleterion, but as there is no path leading to it, the bath is best viewed from across the ravine, just after you pass the ticket office, (351 27 26. Open daily 8am-7pm. $ 1.20. To reach Nyssa from Aydin, take the dolmuş to Nazilli from the otogar and ask to be dropped at Sultanhisar (30min., $.90).
From there you can walk up 3km to Nyssa. In scorching summer months, a taxi is a good option for the journey up, but the walk down is a relatively easy 20min. descent. Catch the dolmuş returning to Aydm on the north side of the highway, across from the arrival spot.)