Priene, Turkey


An ancient city of Ionia where modern excavations have revealed one of the most beautiful examples of Greek town planning. The city's remains lie on successive terraces that rise from a plain to a steep hill upon which stands the Temple of Athena Polias. Built by Pythius, probable architect of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the temple was recognized in ancient times as the classic example of the pure Ionic style. Priene is laid out on a grid plan, with 6 main streets running east-west and 15 streets crossing at right angles, all being evenly spaced. The town was thereby divided into about 80 blocks, each averaging 150 by 110 feet. About 50 blocks were devoted to private houses; the better-class blocks had four houses apiece, but most were far more subdivided. In the centre of the town stand not only the Temple of Athena but an agora, a stoa, an assembly hall, and a theatre with well-preserved stage buildings. A gymnasium and stadium are in the lowest section. The private houses typically consisted of a rectangular courtyard enclosed by living quarters and storerooms and opening to the south onto the street by way of a small vestibule. 

Temple of Athena Polias
(artist's reconstruction)

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Theater at Priene

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