Sagalassos is located in between Burdur and Isparta provinces of Turkey. Being an hour away from Antalya, it is very easy to add Sagalassos to itineraries going from Konya to Antalya or Antalya to Pamukkale. The tour in the ancient city will consume most of the day but it will worth every minute spent in your vehicle. Sagalassos is lying on a high plateau by the Akdag mountain and todays modern Aglasun city. The elevation of the city changes in between 1400 meters to 1700 meters high from the sea level offering phenomenal views to the wide plains in front of the city and the gigantic Taurus Mountains. The area makes a tour in the museum challenging but the scenes and the monuments are worth seeing. When you enter the museum, you will see an information board with alternative routes for any type of physical conditions. To give you an idea, I have visited Sagalassos with an American couple in their 60s and explored the city from the bottom to the top in 4 hours taking a lot of pictures and resting in front of the Nymphaeum which was restored recently. The silence of the hills of Sagalassos is spoiled by the sound of the water clashing to the huge pool of the Roman fountain which takes you to the marvellous Roman times of Sagalassos.
The history of Sagalassos goes back to ten thousands years. It was a very convenient place for hunters and gatherers with mountains full of prey, fresh water sources and fertile plateaus. Hitties mention a city named Salawassa in the 13th Century BCE which is definitely for Sagalassos. The Anatolian communities of Sagalassos rapidly obtained the Hellenistic culture right after being conquered by Alexander the Great. The city apparently could not have a political stability from the period of Alexander the Great to the Romans. Last Hellenistic authority was the Kingdom of Pergamon. When Pergamon became the Asian state capital of the Romans, Sagalassos started to develop rapidly especially during Hadrians reign. The 5 meter statue of Hadrian found in the excavation site proves the respect shown to the great Roman emperor and the money spent in the development of the city. Today, most of the structures you will encounter during your tour dates back from the Roman Era.
What happened to Sagalassos?
The city was living in prosper especailly after the Roman development. But an earthquake in the 6th century devasted the city leaving nothing behind. The citizens of Sagalassos overcame the consequences of earlier earthquakes as the city was not developed with great stone and marble structures. But the Romans built huge buildings like an Agora, Nymphaeum, Theater, Bath complexes, shrines and temples making it very hard to the people to restore. People went down to the bottom of the valley to build a smaller settlement where we find the modern city of Aglasun today. Please keep enough snacks with you as the city Aglasun lack good food. Isparta and Burdur provinces are just located 1 hour away from Sagalassos and both can offer good Mediterranean food for you.
Even though a tour in the ancient city might take at least 2 hours, we highly recommend Sagalassos for those driving or driven from Konya to Antalya or Pamukkale to Antalya. In both cases, you will first love the scenery from and to Sagalassos. The city will be impressive enough and you will never regret the drive.