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Sailing To Cnidus, The Star Of Dorian Hexapolis

Feb 6, 2008
If you are looking for a unique yachting holiday or vacation, you should try a sailing voyage to ancient city of Cnidus in Turkey.

Cnidus is an ancient site in Turkey that is being closely studied by archaeologists and historians. Ramazan Ozgan, the archaeology professor of Konya Selcuk University in Turkey, who has been presiding over the excavation studies in Cnidus for 16 years, is working with a group of 22 students; in addition, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ehrhart from Freiburg University also is working to uncover the rich heritage of Cnidus.

Centuries ago Cnidus, originally a Phoenician settlement, was a major Dorian city, celebrated for its temples, theatres, statue of Aphrodite, the world's first observatory, and medi¨cal school. Around 1000 BC the Dorians invaded the southern part of Caria and established the Dorian Hexapolis with the cities Cnidus (DatÁa), Halicarnassos (Bodrum), Cos, Kamiros, Lindos and Lalissos. The last three of the cities were in Rhodes. Cnidus was established at the same time as Halicarnassus (now Bodrum) around 800 BC.

Later on, according to Herodotus, a famous Greek historian, who lived around 447 BC, Halicarnas¨sus was excluded from the union of Greek city-states. The Union was then called the Dorian Pentapolis. Cnidus was the centre of this City Union. It had an effective political and economic structure considering the period and was an important city with, colonies in Northern Sicily, from the island of Lipari, to as far as Naukrati in Egypt.

Apollon and Aphrodite were the symbols of the city. The engravings on the Cnidian coins used to bear these symbols. But the most striking symbol of the city were the lions which stood on both sides of the harbour entrance. A colossal figure of a lion carved out of one block of mar¨ble, ten feet in length and six in height, which is believed to commemo¨rate the great naval victory, the Battle of Cnidus, which ended the Spartan hegemony in 394 BC!

Philosophers, architects and the astronomers of the ancient world were attracted to this inspirational meeting point. The statue of Aphrodite testifies to the cul¨tural refinement of the city. One of the greatest mathematicians of antiquity, Eudoxus was born in Cnidus. He discovered the formula to find the volumes of the solids and other mathematical demonstrations. He also devised a geometrical expla¨nation of the motions of the sun, moon and planets along the zodiac.

There's also Praxiteles who carved the statue of Aphrodite for the people of Cnidus. The statue was so highly valued by them that they refused to sell it to King Nicomedes, who was willing in return to discharge the whole debt of the city. And there's Sostratus, architect of the Lighthouse of Alexandria. This great lighthouse was one of "the Seven Wonders of the ancient world" .

At one time in Cnidus, there was a statue of a lion set on each breakwater, commemorating the great naval victory won in 394 BC, but in 1857, an Englishman by the name of C.Newton visited the city and carried off a statue of Demeter and some other statues including the lions, which are all now at the Museum except for one of the lions that got broken in transit.

Can Yucel, a well-known master of Turkish poetry has described Cnidus in two sentences:

"Staring at it, looks greener than the algea,
Yet more blue, swimming a stroke."

Aphrodite bathed in this water, according to the Greek mythology. Although Cnidus is one of the best preserved areas, ignorance has taken its toll on this precious cultural site. Some valuable pieces have been dragged out of the country due to greed and vanity. But what remains still provide a light on the richness of the ancient past. Prof. Dr. Ehrhart is working on the city plan of the ancient site, which, not surprisingly, has never been searched thoroughly before.

Cnidus was known worldwide in ancient times

"I don't know whether 16 years of study was suffering or pleasure" says Mr. Ozgan while adding that he's fond of the excavations he discovered with his students. "The Dorians founded these cities around 1200 BC. As the seaborne trade developed, they stored their products in Northern Africa, in a city called Naucratis to sell olive and olive oil to the whole world. And that's how Cnidus became among the most wealthy cities of the world and became the richest in Anatolia."

Land of the taxfree

Friends of Julius Ceasar lived in Cnidus, and being friends with him wasn't only critical in a political sense but was also very important as an economic advantage. This state of affairs gave Cnidus a privilege; Ceasar anounced that this city would be free of tax and this led to great prosperity and the citizens built fountains, schools and temples which can be partly seen today. At least they were helping each other! What have our rich people done to help their cities? How and where do they spend their fortune? Cnidus was also a leading clinical center of the world but again, this fact doesn't come into prominence.

Pieces are scattered all over the world

The most glorious pieces of the British Museum have been taken from here and damage was done to the ancient sites. The artifacts are easy to carry away via the sea and rumors of smuggling have continued right up to recent years.

Have you dreamed of an enjoyable holiday amidst the quiet of ancient ruins? Wouldn't this be a perfect vacation? Imagine a land where the fertility of the soil is boundless and from this rich soil comes earthenware pottery from Paleothic Ages, Assyrian metal coins, and statues that decorated the Hittite cities and ancient Greek libraries.

The ideal way to live in the historical sites, is to join a "Blue Voyage" with the comfortable atmosphere afforded by a "Deluxe Gulet" or "Marmaris Yachts". You can also have an experienced guide in the gulet (traditional Turkish sail boat), whose knowledge of the area is rich and whose personality is warm and humorous. The "Blue Cruise" in the crystal clear waters or "Turquoise Coast" could easily be the highlight of your trip to Turkey.
About the Author
Gurhan Ebren is a retired naval officer and currently runs El Paso Travel, a Marmaris travel agency specializing in yacht and gulet charters and cruises in Turkey. You can learn more about the blue cruises which visit Cnidus and other sites at http://www.elpasotravel.net/itinaries.htm
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