Greek Temples of Athena and Apollo – exploring Didyma and Priene


The sanctuary of Didyma

was situated near the city of Miletus and played a significant role in the religious and cultural life of the region. The most prominent feature of Didyma was the Temple of Apollo, known as the Didymaion. This temple was famous for its colossal size and its elaborate decoration, which included intricate carvings and sculptures. The most notable feature of the temple was its enormous Ionic columns, which reached heights of around 19 meters (62 feet). The temple was never fully completed, with major construction between 750 and 550 BCE this is the second largest Apollo temple after the one at Delphi.

The Oracle of Didyma

was also a significant aspect of the sanctuary. Pilgrims and visitors would come to consult the oracle, seeking guidance and predictions from the god Apollo. The oracle was often consulted before important decisions were made, and its prophecies were highly respected in the ancient world.

In Greek mythology Medusa (guardian, protectress’) was a monster, a Gorgon, generally described as having the face of a hideous human female with living venomous snakes in place of hair. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone.


Priene was an ancient Greek city

located in the region of Ionia, in modern-day Turkey. It was situated near the Maeander River and the city of Miletus. Priene is known for its well-preserved ruins that provide valuable insights into the urban planning and architecture of ancient Greek cities.

Key features and characteristics of Priene:

Grid Layout: Priene is particularly famous for its well-planned grid layout, which was uncommon in ancient Greek city planning. The city’s streets were organized in a grid pattern, with intersecting roads creating a network of rectangular blocks.

Temple of Athena Polias: The most important structure in Priene was the Temple of Athena Polias, dedicated to the goddess Athena. This temple was a significant religious center for the city’s inhabitants and visitors. Its architectural design is a prime example of the Ionic order, characterized by its graceful columns  and intricate details.

Bouleuterion: Priene had a bouleuterion, which was a council chamber used for meetings and administrative purposes. The bouleuterion of Priene was well-preserved and could accommodate a substantial number of people.

Theater: The city also had a theater that was built into the natural slope of the hillside. The theater provided a venue for various performances, including plays, musical events, and other forms of entertainment.

Agora: Like other ancient Greek cities, Priene had an agora, or marketplace, where commercial, social, and political activities took place. The agora was a central gathering place for the city’s residents.

Fortifications: The city’s defensive walls were constructed to protect the inhabitants from external threats. These walls were an important aspect of the city’s overall layout and design.

Priene’s ruins offer a glimpse

into the daily life, architecture, and urban planning of ancient Greek civilization. The city’s well-organized grid layout and its well-preserved structures make it a valuable archaeological site for historians, archaeologists, and tourists interested in ancient history.

From our journal:


Bodrum to Kusadasi Beautiful, still cool, morning for breakfast poolside. Take off around 9, driving along the coast, with several stops. Letmos lake, formerly part of the bay, but now mostly freshwater. Stopped for tea. Then also, along the road where there were honey sellers. Koray, the driver, needed to get some pine honey for his boss and relatives. We got some great pistachios (5 million for ½ kg).

On to Didyma, at times on a really poor road.

Drive past cotton fields, with migrant workers just setting up their tents. Lunch in the cotton manufacturing town of Soke (SIEUR-key) – past a tea house packed with men doing little but watch us pass. Pide, kebabs and lamacun for lunch.

Then another ½ to the Hotel Ozcelik in Kusadasi. It’s located right on the beach. We’ve a suite, with sitting room and balconies directly over the beach. Nice breeze eliminates need to use the air conditioning. Went swimming for a short time, lazed out on the beach for a bit before coming up to catch up on captioning and this journal. Water here is really hard – almost impossible to soap up, and then as difficult to rinse, leaving the body feeling sticky. Somehow, shampoo did an ok job. 7 pm now, dinner downstairs in 30 minutes.
Pretty sunset, then watch bats flying around catching (hopefully) mosquitoes.

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By Cascoly

I've been exploring and leading trips for over 40 years. climbing & trekkng in the Alps, Andes, North American mountain ranges and the Himalaya. I'm retired from mountaineering now but world travels in Europe, Africa & Asia continue to expand my portfolio. Besides private travel, I now focus on escorting trips to India & Turkey. Other interests include wide reading in history and vegetable gardening / cooking. You can download digital images here, or find images at We have many thousands of images we haven't displayed yet; so, if you have a special need or request please contact us