Temple of Trajan, Pergamum – Image courtesy of cruisingexcursions.com
Top attractions near Cesme
Cesme and its immediate surrounds offer an array of must-see attractions, including ancient cities that are all just a short drive away – perfect for inquisitive couples visiting this perfect honeymoon destination.
Explore these ancient Greek ruins that include a 3rd century BC theatre, the 6th century BC Temple of Heracles, a 5th century BC sacrificial altar and a 2nd century BC mosaic stone pavement. Climb to the top of the theatre for great views over the region. Erythrai is located on the coast around 23km from Cesme town centre and 17km from Ilica.
Scramble among the remains of the ancient city of Pergamum, which dates back to the 12th century BC. Climb to the 300m-high summit for panoramic views over this vast site then visit the terraced hillside theatre, the well-preserved Temple of Dionysius, the famed library, the Altar of Zeus and the propylaeum (monumental gateway) of the Temple of Athena.
On the way back down the hill don’t miss the Sanctuaries of Hera, the Temple of Asklepios and the agora (meeting place) in the Lower City. While there is much to see in situ, the vast majority of excavated artefacts now reside at the Pergamum Museum in Berlin, Germany. Pergamum is 118km from Cesme.
Explore the remains of one of the world’s earliest medical and therapeutic centres and the world's first psychiatric hospital, dating to the 4th century BC. This famed ancient medical centre, built in honour of Asklepios, the god of healing, gained prominence during the Roman era in the 2nd century AD.
Stroll the once colonnaded Sacred Way (that connected the Asklepion with the Acropolis) to the propylaeum. See the altar inscribed with the emblem of modern medicine, the serpent.
Follow the curved Temple of Telesphorus, an underground tunnel that hosted treatment rooms and sleeping chambers, to the circular domed Temple of Asklepios. Elsewhere, see pools and fountains used for bathing and drinking as well as the semicircular Roman Theatre, which flanks the colonnaded promenade on the northwest corner of the site.
Stroll around this enormous red Byzantine church, originally built in the 2nd century AD during the reign of Hadrian as a temple dedicated to the Egyptian god Serapis.
Destroyed in the Arab raids of 716 to 717 AD, the church was then converted into a basilica by the Byzantines; a small mosque still resides in one of the towers. The Red Basilica straddles the ancient Selinus River (today called the Bergama Cayi), in Bergama (Pergamum), around 118km north of Cesme.
Explore the ancient ruins of Sardis, the one-time capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia and home of King Croesus (560–546 BC), famous for his wealth.
Within the ongoing excavations, which comprise an open-air museum that once served as the gymnasium and bathhouse, see the colonnaded arcade lined with Byzantine-era shops, the Palestra, Caldarium and Frigidarium.
Sardis is located in the village of Sart, around 72km east of Izmir and 185km east of Cesme.