Ancient Alinda was a highly defensible mountain fortress overlooking a fertile plain and is now part of the modern small town of Karpuzlu. The ruins of Alinda are among the finest in Caria, hardly surpassed in splendor even by those at nearby Labraunda.
Queen Ada of Caria succeeded as ruler after the deaths of Mausolus and Artemisia, her brother and sister, and of her brother Idrieus. She was deposed however in 340 BCE by her brother Pixodarus, and subsequently maintained her independence from him in her mountain fastness here in Alinda, from where she made contact with Alexander the Great after he captured Miletus in 334 BCE.
Ada adopted Alexander as her son and helped him in his siege of Halicarnassus. As a result, when the Macedonians finally took that city she was reinstated as queen of Caria and ruled until her death a few years later. After that her realm reverted to the Greeks. Alinda on the eastern slopes of Mount Latmus was thus the last stronghold of the Carian people, who thereafter virtually disappear from history. By the mid 3rd century BCE the Seleucids established a garrison in Alinda.
The steep hill upon which Alinda is built has defense walls anchored on the summit and extending around in a serrated arc to enclose a terraced area stretching down the more gradual southern slope. The theatre is directly below the summit and faces down to the south, while below there is a monumental market building attached to the adjacent agora. Across to the north-west of the acropolis we could see a second walled enclosure at an even higher altitude, connected to the main citadel of Alinda by a curtain wall that extended along the saddle between the two peaks. This second enclosure contained probably a royal palace, in which case it would have been the residence of queen Ada, the last ruler of Caria.
Up a steep slope nearby the modern town center of Karpuzlu lies the well-preserved 99 m long and 15 m high Hellenistic market building. The building is easy to reach by car from the town center via a well-signposted road. At the end of that road you can leave the car in a small parking lot and go further on a good path that leads directly to the market building. The building originally had three stories of which the lower two remain largely intact. The first level consisted of pairs of individual shops, one behind the other, which opened onto a terrace to the south. The second storey was divided with a double row of columns and formed a single long hall, lighted by a large window to the west and narrow slits in the front wall. The top storey was leveled with and adjoined a flat, open agora (30 x 30 m.) to the north. Proceeding further up the mountain visitors come to the largely intact early 2nd century BCE 5000-seat and heavily overgrown theatre, expanded by the Romans in the 1st century.
Near the summit of the hill is a well-preserved two-storey Hellenistic square tower from where a tunnel once led to the theatre. To the north-west is a second higher walled acropolis with cisterns, suggesting this was a stronghold to retreat in times of danger. Along the path are also several well-preserved tombs and ruins of small Hellenistic buildings. In the valley below stands an extended section of a magnificent Roman aqueduct with four supporting arches. That aqueduct is also reachable by car via a good road from the city center.
The entrance to the site of Alinda is free. In the small town of Karpuzlu there are a few restaurants and cafés.
By car: the small town of Karpuzlu lies not so far away from the main road 550 leading from Aydin to Muğla. Near Çine, you take the small road leading to Belen and further away to Karpuzlu.
Text: Michel Gybels
Photographs: Michel Gybels