Fouilltes de Sagalassos

Giant Stadiums of Anatolia

 Ancient Giant Stadiums of Anatolia

Modern sports and Olympic Games have their roots in ancient games. During the Greek and Roman periods in Anatolia athletic games and competitions, gladiatorial fights and chariot races were held in giant stadiums. Stadium word comes from the Greek word “stadion”, a measure of length equalling the length of 600 human feet. A Roman stadium was defined somewhat differently to be a distance of 125 passus (double-paces), equal to about 185 m (607 ft). Although in modern terms 1 stadion = 600 ft (180 m), in a given historical context it may be larger or smaller as we see often in stadiums of Anatolia.

There are many Greek an Roman stadiums in Anatolia. Aphrodisias Stadium is probably one of the best preserved structures of its kind in the world. At Perga stadium a colonnaded gallery 234 m (768 ft) long was carried round above the seats. At Perga, Magnesia and Aizani the stadiums were built on the level ground. The stadium at Ephesus was 230 m (755 ft) long, cut in the hill on one side and enclosed with masonry on the other. The largest stadium is located at Laodicea ad Lycum, 355 m (1165 ft) long, with semicircular (sphendone) terminations at each end. Some of the stadiums are next to the theaters such as the ones in Magnesia, Tralles, Sardes and Pergamum. Among the stadiums lost since the nineteenth century are those at Smyrna, Heraclea Salbake, Myndus and Tarsus, among those discovered since then are those at Perinthus and Labraunda. The stadium at Halicarnassus was found and covered and built again.

We have tried to compile a detailed list of stadiums in Anatolia. Feel free to comment and the list will be updated and expanded.

The list of Stadiums of Anatolia

Aphrodisias Stadium

Date First Century A.D.
Capacity 30,000
Length 270 m (890 ft)
Width 60 m (200 ft)
Track Length 225 m (738 ft)
Track Width 30 m (98 ft)
Seat Rows 30

Aphrodisias Stadium

Stadium of Aphrodisias – Photo credit Teoman Cimit


Aphrodisias is a city in Caria, on the southwest coast of Asia Minor. Its site is located near the modern village of Geyre, Turkey, about 230 km (140 mi) south-east of İzmir and about 100 km (62 mi) inland from the coast.

The Aphrodisias Stadium was built in the first century A.D. to host athletic contests such as foot races, wrestling, long-jumps and discus and javelin throwing.It was used for athletic events until the city theatre was badly damaged by a 7th century earthquake, requiring part of the stadium to be converted for events previously staged in the theatre. The stadium measures approximately 270 m (890 ft) by 60 m (200 ft). With 30 rows of seats on each side, and around each end, it would have had a maximum capacity for around 30,000 spectators. The track measures approximately 225 m (738 ft) by 30 m (98 ft).
The stadium is considerably larger and structurally more extensive than even the stadium at the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. The Aphrodisias stadium is probably one of the best preserved structures of its kind in the World.

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