Priene - (Show on the Map) - The origins of this beautiful city are old indeed. By the eleventh century B.C. it was one of the twelve colonies forming the Ionian Confederation and enjoyed considerable prestige and prosperity. It was situated below the mass of Samsun Mountain (formerly Mikale) on the shore before river Maeander silted up the port. Now the sea is fifteen kilometers away and surrounding plains have become immense cotton plantations. The city rebelled against Persian domination under King Cyrus and in revenge the Persians razed it to the ground. New Priene was reborn under Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. and after countless struggles and invasions became a Roman province in 129 A.D. . The city regained its prosperity under the Emperor Augustus in spite of having a population of only seven thousand. During the Byzantine reign it became a Bishopric. Priene became part of the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth century. The streets of Priene are unusual in the that they are all horizontal and vertical, parallel and perpendicular, like a chess board. However comfortable shoes are a must, especially for those wishing to reach the top where at one time the Acropolis stood. Now there are only ruins, but the view is spectacular and well worth the effort. On the other hand, the Theatre is still in good condition although it is partly submerged in trees and vegetation. The theatre was originally Greek and built in the fourth century B.C. but it was altered by the Romans in the second century A.D. and its seating capacity increased to hold six thousand spectators. The wall of the stage which has two storeys, faces a row of five marble throne-like seats resting on pedestals in the form of lions feet surrounded by ivy leaves. Perhaps the theatre was also used for debates and political meetings.
Only five fluted Ionian columns survive from the original sixty-six of the Temple of Athena Polias, erected by Alexander the great in 334 B.C . In the center there was once a statue of Athena seven meters high rivaling in size the famous statue by Pheidias in the Parthenon in Athens. By the temple the ruins of houses belonging to rich citizens or important dignitaries can be seen. They had numerous rooms facing onto interior courtyards. The bouleuterion, the ancient senate was constructed in the second century B.C. with an enormous council chamber capable of holding six hundred and fifty people. Almost nothing remains of the Prytaneion, the city's administrative building, only the great courtyard. The stadium dates from second century B.C. and is one hundred and ninety meters long. At one time there was a portico of Doric columns. Under this loggia athletes could train when it rained but it was also used as a meeting place for the general population of Priene.