Zeus Temple in Silifke

Location: 

GPS coordinates: 36.375801, 33.930000
Zeus Temple in Silifke
Zeus Temple in Silifke

Description: 

In the centre of Silifke, there are modest remains of an ancient temple. Most likely, it was dedicated to Zeus, known in the Roman pantheon as Jupiter. Now, the ruins are known as the Temple of Storks because these birds have built a nest on top of the only standing column of the building.

In Roman times, there were three temples in Seleucia ad Calycadnum as Silifke was then known. However, no traces have been found of the other two temples. The Temple of Zeus has been preserved as it was transformed into a Christian basilica in the 5th century. Nowadays, its ruins stand in the area of an ancient necropolis.

The temple was built in the 2nd or the 3rd century CE. The building was a peripteral temple was surrounded by a portico with columns. It measured 40 to 21 meters. In its original form, there were 14 columns along each longer side of the temple and eight columns on the front. Only one of these Corinthian, 10-meter-high columns is now standing. Some fluted drums of the fallen columns can be seen lying on the site of the former temple. However, most of the columns were used for the construction of Reşadiye Mosque in the 14th century. Nowadays, they still support the vestibule of this building. The fragment of the frieze with the representation of goddess Nike can be seen in Silifke Museum.

There is no certainty about the deity that was worshiped in the temple. It is usually assumed that it was dedicated to Zeus. According to Byzantine historian Zosimus who lived in the 5th century, the temple was dedicated to Apollo Sarpedonicus. The god responded to the plea for help from the locals who were attacked by a swarm of locusts. Apollo sent a flock of birds to help them. According to other sources, this was the Temple of Aphrodite which was converted into a church by Bishop Dexianos in the first half of the fifth century.

Visitor tips: 

According to some guidebooks, the area of the necropolis where the ruins of the temple are located is open for visitors. However, during our visit in Silifke, the site was surrounded by a solid fence and the gates were firmly locked. As there was no guardian to open the gates, we only could see the temple from a distance.

Getting there: 

The temple is located in the centre of Silifke, on Inönü Street, to the south of Göksu River i.e. ancient Calycadnus. The distance from the Roman bridge is just 800 meters.

Bibliography: 

Image gallery: 

Zeus Temple in Silifke
Zeus Temple in Silifke
Zeus Temple in Silifke
Zeus Temple in Silifke
Zeus Temple in Silifke
Zeus Temple in Silifke
Zeus Temple in Silifke
Zeus Temple in Silifke
Zeus Temple in Silifke
Zeus Temple in Silifke