Antioch of Pisidia

By the Editors of the Madain Project

Antioch in Pisidia, also called Antiochia in Pisidia or Pisidian Antioch, was a city situated in the Turkish Lakes Region. It was strategically located at the junction of the Mediterranean, Aegean and Central Anatolian regions, and used to be on the border of Pisidia and Phrygia, which is why it was also known as Antiochia in Phrygia during the Roman Empire. The city was situated on a hill, with its peak reaching 1236 meters in the north, and was approximately 1 kilometer northeast of Yalvaç, the modern town of Isparta Province.

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The city of Antiocheia, founded by Antiochus I from the Seleucid dynasty, was established between 281 BCE - 261 BCE, and was surrounded by the Sultan Mountains to the east, Karakuş Mountain to the north, Kızıldağ Mountain to the southeast, Kirisli Mountain, and the northern shore of Eğirdir Lake to the southwest. Emperor Augustus established the first and greatest military colony in Pisidia and gave the city the title of Caesareia in 25 BCE.

During the Roman Period, Antiocheia became the capital of the region and a rich metropolis. In the Early Empire Period, the city was rebuilt on a new systematic plan, and many religious and secular buildings were constructed, including the Augustan Temple, Theatre, Roman Bath, Saint Paul's Church, Central Church, Northern Church, Tiberius Square, and Nymphaeum. Saint Paul lived in Antiocheia for two years as a tent maker and preached Christianity to people of different faiths, further increasing the city's importance.

Notable Structures


Great Basilica of Saint Paul
The church in the west of the city, measuring approx. 70x27 meters, has three naves with a basilical plan. Thirteen columns from the narrow naves on both sides separate the middle nave. The semi-circular apse (inspect) of the Saint Paul's church in Pisidia Antiocheia lies towards the south-east. The outer wall of the apse is surrounded by a hexagonal wall (inspect). The building is designed for sloping terrain and the architecture follows the conditions of the area. Due to the slope of the land, the apse of the church is two storey and the other parts are single storey. The rocks on the south side were staightened by shaving and the south-wall was built over these rocks. Between the south wall and the north of the church there are quie a lot of elevation differences. Apart from the main entrance at the narthen, there is also a large entrance door from the courtyard on the north side. The entrance of the lower floor is in the south corner of the apse. A large courtyard was built to the north of the church with a stone floor and covered its surrounding with a stoa. There are shops in the north of the courtyard and in the west there are some places related to the church with a stone floor and covered its surrounding with a stoa. There are shops in the north of the courtyard and in the west there are some places related to the church whose function is not obvious from the architecture. The mosaic floor of the church, which is made of soloured stones, is decorated with floral patterns separated in to panels. In one of the inscriptions on the boards, the name of archbishop Optimus, who represented Antioch in the Council of Constantinople in 381 CE is written. The church, which is thought to have been built over the remains of the first century CE synagogue where saint Paul is believed to have had preached, is one of the largest churches of early Christianity in Anatolia.


Cardo Maximus and Road Square
The four-hundred meters long cardo maximus starts from the Nymphaeum and runs to the south through the city. The road is approx. thirty meters wide for the first 135 meters and then narrows towards the south. There are colonnades on each side of the road and a two meters deep, 1 meter wide drainage system takes place in the middle. The road lost its function in the later periods. Its floor slabs formed a floor for houses and shops, which are made with poor workmanship using scavanged and simple materials. The buildings are made very crudely with loam mortar and the patches with dry wall technique using architectural elements from various structures. The road, which is leftbetween the buildings, is no more on the north-south symmetrical axis but on the north-east southwest direction. The plan of the city also changed in this period and became more complex. Numerous matels such as iron door components, agricultural tools, scissors, knife etc, oil lamps, terra-cotta spindle-whorl and ceramic fragments that are unearthed in the buildings give information on the used materials. The coins from the period of emperor Johannes I (circa 919-976 CE), which were found in this ground level provide the exact date of the constructions in the area and document that the set continued in Antiocheia in the tenth century CE. Despite the fact that settlement continued in the city, the earlier structures unearthed show that grandeur of the city in the earlier periods no more existed and the people led very poor lives.

circa 575 CE

Northern Basilica
The entire basilica including its narthex, oriented east-west, measures 40x23.50 meters. The main apse has a triple facade on the exterior and semi-circular on the inside. The structure is damaged to the level of stylobat. The most intact part is the main apse. In the construction of the church, collected blocks and scavanged materials were used as well as local grey stones. The bick paved ground in the north nave is partly and a very small part of the mosaic floor in the south nave is preserved. The superstructure of the church cannot be determined. In addition to the door giving access from the north, there is another door obtaining passage from the south nave to the apse. In the west of the church, the narthex that is disassembled to the lovel of foundation and annexed spaces take place.

In the church at least two phases are determined. The annexes built in the north of the church indicate a second phase of construction. However, the column capitals must have been carried to the Northern Church from another building. The church is smaller than Great Basilica (Northern Church) in terms of dimensions; however, it is larger than the central church. When the construction date of the other two churches, the date of the column cpitals, and the architecture of early Christianity in Antiocheia are considered, the construction date of the north-church is from late sixth century CE at the earliest.


The Roman era aqueducts are some of the most notable examples of water supply system, which emerges with the Roman empire urban planning concept and forms the basis for the water system seen in almost every ancient city in Anatolia.

Increasing water demand in the Roman period due to the development and expansion of Antiocheia was met by a ten kilometers long water supply system running from the water sources about the sea level along the north of the city. Water from the source was brought to the Nymphaeum with terra cotta and stone pipes, sometimes through the channels, sometimes tunnels and sometimes through single or double stone-arches.

circa 100 CE

Roman Bath-house
The Roman era bath-house (circa first century CE), located at the north-western corner of the ancient city of Antiocheia Pisidia, is still mostly intact. The building, of which to-date seven of the spaces have been excavated, measures approx. 80x55 meters. Though the scholars are uncertain regarding its funtion as a bath-house. Considering the sun and wind factors, the entrances and hearths of all baths are in south and east directions; however, here the situation is different. Thereare notmany traces of water supply and heating system.

As in the Trajan's Temple in Pergamon, the building reveals itself as a substructure carrying a larger building with its vaults on a plain area obtained from the slope of the land.


The theatre of Pisidia was built on a west-facing slope. It is a small theatre with a seating capacity of approximately five thousand spectators. The theatre has two caveas with single dizoma (horizontal corridor that divides the cave) and most of the seats of the upper cavea are missing and the structure is in a quite poor condition. The theatre of Antioch Pisidia has entrances (parados) from thenorth and south, and was closed by laying the southern entrance on Decumanus street in the later period. In the Hellenistic era, the theatre's round planned orchestra was transformed in to a semi-circular stage building built during the Roman Imperial period.

Only the basic sequence of the stage building is preserved today. The facade of the building, which was built in a rectangular form, was decorated with a frieze of bull heads carrying a garland (today displayed at the Yalvac Museum Garden). The subsequent uplifting of the walls surrounding the orchestra with reused material shows that wild animals and gladiator games were played in the theatre in the later times. The gladiator reliefs are now preserved in the Yalvac Museum. With repairs and additions, the theatre was used until later periods.


Northern City Gate
The gate that provided the main entrance to the city, and it was built in honour of the Roman emperor Hadrian in 129 CE and later renovated in 212 CE as a triumphal arch by Gaius Julius Asper. Today the remains of the gate are on display along side the remains of the Southern Gate. The weapons and other things which were depicted symbolise the wars won by the Roman Empire, especially the Battle of Actium (31 BCE). On both sides of the street shops of the approximately same size were lined next to each other. The back of the shops in the east was shaved and leaned against the flattened hillside and most of the shops were carved in to the rock. During the excavations it was understood that some of the shops were only sales and some were workshops of blacksmiths and felt work, as well as selling areas.


Temple of Augustus
The temple dedicated to Emperor Augustus was built on the highest point of the city, on a sacred area. It was constructed on a foundation carved from natural rock and rests on a 2.5 meter high podium. The entrance is in the western facade through a staircase with twelve steps. The temple's podium measures 26 by 15 meters and had four columns in the front with Corinthian capitals. The pronaos has a length of 7.7 meters and was supported by columns at each side. The nearly square-shaped cella had walls that change thickness between 1.1 and 0.7 meters and was adorned with a frieze of scrolled leaves. A garland frieze measuring 0.5 by 10 meters, supported with burcrania, rested over the three-fascia architrave. The pediment had plain geison and sigma with palmette motifs, and a central window surrounded by egg and bead rows. The apex acroterium had depictions of Nike between the scrolls, while high relief acanthus leaves were on the sides.

Behind the temple is a two-story gallery carved from natural rock in a semi-circular shape, with Doric columns on the lower floor and Ionic columns on the upper floor. In front of the temple is an area named after the Emperor, measuring 63 by 85 meters, with partially traced foundations of porticos in the north and south, each approximately 5 meters wide. Construction activities on the temple structure indicate that the work continued during the Roman Empire, from the time of Emperor Tiberius to the time of Claudius.

circa 25 CE

The u-shaped Nymphaeum structure was constructed with the purpose of gathering and distributing water to the city via water channels. It consisted of a reservoir with a size of 27 x 3 meters, an embellished façade that reached a height of 9 meters, and a 27 x 7 meter pool with a depth of 1.5 meters. This impressive fountain was built during the initial decades of the 1st century CE.

The city of Pisidia Antiocheia sourced its water from an elevation of 1465 meters (above sea-level) in the mountains situated to the north of the city. The water was then transported through various channels, tunnels, and arches, which were either single or double-storied depending on the terrain. The waterway was constructed from a combination of stone and earthenware tubes. As the nymphaeum was located at an altitude of 1178 meters, the average slope was calculated to be 2.6% due to the drop from the starting point of 287 meters. The high water pressure along such a slope was managed by lowering the pressure of flow in stages. By the time the water reached the syphon aqueducts at the end of the system, the flow was regulated with a slope of just 0.02%. Thanks to this impressive engineering feature, 3000 cubic meters of water could be distributed throughout the city every day for centuries without any issues.

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