The ruins of the ancient city of Syedra are located near the most popular Turkish holiday resort of Alanya. They are an excellent proof of a fact that a lot of interesting ruins remain to be discovered in Turkey, even so close to the place where millions of tourists spend their holidays every year.
Researchers have managed to date back the history of Syedra to the 7th century BCE when it was settled by the Greeks as Σύεδρα. It was located at the border of three historical lands: Claudius Ptolemy placed Syedra in Cilicia, Stephanus of Byzantium assigned it to Isauria, while Hierocles located it in Pamphylia.
Syedra first appeared in historical records in the first century BCE. The Roman historians Lucan and Florus name Syedra as the location of Pompey's last war council in 48 BCE, before his fatal voyage to Egypt.
The most memorable moment of the city's history was in 194 CE when a letter of commendation from Roman Emperor Septimius Severus arrived at the city. The Emperor praised the courage of Syedra inhabitants who bravely fought off numerous pirate attacks. In order to commemorate this event, the contents of this letter were engraved in stone. This inscription is currently displayed, along with some other artefacts from Syedra, in the Archaeological Museum in Alanya.
Syedra experienced the period of its greatest prosperity in the 2nd century CE, when the city walls were erected, defining an extensive area on the top of the hill. It is estimated that at that time Syedra's population reached 4500 inhabitants. Later, the city declined and the fortifications were rebuilt in order to better protect its smaller area. There was a continuity of the settlement in the area until the 13th century CE.
Among the most important buildings that have been preserved, in better or worse condition, in Syedra are impressive baths, a gymnasium, a colonnaded street, five water cisterns, an ancient temple, a Byzantine church and an olive-oil workshop. Unfortunately, almost nothing has remained from an ancient theatre. However, the ruins of houses and workshops from the Roman period are still visible. There is also an interesting cave where baptisms took place in early Christian era. It was decorated with frescoes, fragments of which can still be seen on the walls.
The entrance ticket costs 5 TL, but there are no official visiting hours and the area is not fenced off. Take extra care while walking among Syedra ruins as the area is close to a steep precipice and the ground is covered with rubble and thorny plants.
Syedra ruins are located on the top of Asar hill, on the altitude of 400 meters a.s.l. The closest inhabited village is called Seki and it belongs to Alanya district.
There is no public transport to Syedra and no trips are organized by local travel agencies, so to visit the place you need to rent a car or walk uphill from the coastal D400 route.
If you go by car, make sure it is a reliable vehicle with high suspension and that you feel confident as a driver on narrow, unpaved roads. From the center of Alanya drive 20 km east along D400 route, in the direction of Mersin. Turn off left (to the north) on the crossroads with a brown 'Syedra' signpost and drive 5 km further uphill. Then turn left and drive the remaining 1.5 km to a surprisingly nice and modern parking lot just beneath Syedra ruins. The last leg of the journey is most difficult, as the road is actually just a narrow and winding path, full of holes and covered with large boulders.