Only 15 years ago, almost none of the travelers knew of the existence of the ruins of the ancient city Antandros, located on the Gulf of Edremit, in the southern part of the Troad. The only visible traces of the once mighty city were the scattered fragments of buildings, hidden in an olive grove, and not encouraging an in-depth exploration. However, a lot has changed since then, and the team of researchers led by Professor Gürcan Polat has made remarkable discoveries in Antandrus. The biggest attraction of this place is a wonderfully preserved Roman villa, adorned with mosaic floor and wall frescoes. So if you are traveling along the coastal road to Edremit, then make a stop in the holiday village of Altınoluk, and search for the traces of ancient Antandros.
Even in ancient times, there was no consensus as to who founded Antandros. According to Alcaeus, a Greek poet from the island of Lesbos, the city had been founded by the Anatolian tribe of Leleges, in the 7th century BCE. The most famous Greek historian, Herodotus, gave information that the settlement was founded by the Pelasgians, the people also from the territories of Asia Minor. Thucydides, writing several decades later, was the first of the authors who claimed that Antandros was a Greek settlement, colonized by immigrants from Aeolia. However, the tradition of the local origin of the founders of the city survived in historiography, mentioned again by Aristotle. He explained that the alternative names of Antandros - Edonis and Kimmeris - were derived from the names of the by a Thracian tribe of the Edonians, and the nomadic Cimmerians from the east.
Two versions of Antandros history that combined the contradictory information was presented by Conon, a Greek grammarian and mythographer, who was active during the reign of Emperor Augustus. According to the first version of events, the city had been ruled by Ascanius the son of Aeneas, until he was kidnapped by the Pelasgians. They received Antandros in exchange for his release. The second version explains that the city was founded by the exiles from the Aegean island of Andros, which was reflected in the name of their new place of residence.
Antandros appears on the pages of history in 512 BCE, when it was conquered by the Persians. Due to its location, at the foot of Mount Ida, the city had access to the rich resources of timber and resin, essential materials for the shipbuilding industry. These considerations meant that Antandros was a tasty morsel for all military powers, seeking to expand their war fleets. The city repeatedly passed from hand to hand, it was controlled by the Greeks and the Persians, and it was even an autonomous settlement for a short time.
The first attempts to locate the ruins of Antandros were made in 1842, when Heinrich Kiepert, a German geographer and cartographer, discovered an inscription from Antandros built into the wall of a mosque in the nearby village of Avcılar. Kiepert climbed Kaletaşı Hill, which, as he suspected, concealed the remains of an ancient settlement. He actually found many pieces of marble and ceramics there, thus confirming his theory. However, for more than 150 years after the discovery in Antandros, only superficial studies were conducted there.
Only in 2001, systematic archaeological work began in Antandrus, conducted under the auspices of the Museum in Balıkesir by Professor Gürcan Polat. These studies have shown that the ceramics found in the area of the Greek necropolis dates back to the 8th and the 7th century BCE. It means that the Greeks inhabited the area two centuries earlier than it was previously thought. This also means that the theories of the Greek origins of the city have gained in importance, moving the claims about the local founders of the city into the shadows.
The villa or so-called Terraced House (tr. Yamaç Ev) from the Roman period i.e. from the 4th century AD, is a must-see while visiting the ruins of Antandros. There are six rooms of the house arranged around an inner courtyard, preserved in excellent condition. The mosaics decorating the floors and wall frescoes are beautiful and reminiscent of the decoration of houses in Pompeii.
In addition to the villa, in Antandros you can see the remains of huge baths, Roman cisterns, and an extensive necropolis.
Entry to Antandros is currently free of charge. There are continuous efforts aimed at opening an archaeological museum in this place. This venue would display the exhibits from Antandros, currently stored in a warehouse. With the opening of this facility, most probably official ticketing system and opening hours will be introduced. Bear in mind that because of ongoing archaeological excavations, not all parts of the site are always accessible for visitors.
In the nearby village of Altınoluk, you can easily find a place to stay at one of the seaside hotels or B&Bs. There are also numerous restaurants, grocery stores, a post office, and ATMs.
By public transport: the buses and minibuses connecting Küçükkuyu (in the east) with Edremit (in the east) pass right in front of the entrance to the area of ancient Antandros. You just need to ask a driver to stop there.
By car: Antandros ruins are situated between Altınoluk and Avcılar, on the E87 route.