Hadrian goes to Attaleia – images from Hadrian’s Gate at Antalya

Antalya was founded as Attaleia by Attalus II, King of Pergamum, around 150 BC with the aim of establishing a naval base. It is possible that the town was an expansion of an older settlement or was built on top of a pre-existing one, as 2008 excavations suggest.

Statue of Attalus II, King of Pergamum, who founded Attaleia (now Antalya), the city was named after him © Carole Raddato

Statue of Attalus II, King of Pergamum, who founded Attaleia (now Antalya), the city was named after him
© Carole Raddato

In 133 BC Attalus III, the last king of Pergamum, bequeathed all his possessions, including Attaleia, to the Romans. It is known that the city reached the peak of its prosperity as an important trade centre in the 2nd century AD and that it was enhanced with new monuments commemorating the emperor Hadrian’s visit in 130 AD.

Hadrian's Gate © Carole Raddato

Hadrian’s Gate
© Carole Raddato

Of the wall’s entry gates only one has survived to the present. The gate, erected to commemorate Hadrian’s visit to Attaleia (Antalya), has the typical appearance of a Roman triumphal arch, with two colonnaded facades and three entry arches rising above four pylons.

Hadrian's gate © Carole Raddato

Hadrian’s gate
© Carole Raddato

The three passages are decorated with floral and rosette reliefs.

Architectural detail of the vaults decorated with floral and rosette reliefs © Carole Raddato

Architectural detail of the vaults decorated with floral and rosette reliefs
© Carole Raddato

Hadrian’s gate © Carole Raddato

Hadrian’s gate
© Carole Raddato

For hundreds of years, Hadrian’s Gate was encased in the Seljuk city walls, which might explain why it had remained undamaged. It was only uncovered in the 1950s when the walls collapsed. In the course of a successful restoration project carried out in 1959, certain architectural elements have come to light which indicate that the monument consisted of two levels. Two towers of different constructions were found, one on either side of the gate. The tower on the left front of the arch belongs to the Roman era, while that on the right, as indicated by its inscription, dates to Seljuk times.

Hadrian's gate, architectural detail © Carole Raddato

Hadrian’s gate, architectural detail
© Carole Raddato

The gate once had an honorary inscription in gold-plated bronze letters saluting the emperor. A dozen such gilded bronze letters were discovered at the foot of the gate.  The upper inscription, on the second storey of Hadrian’s gate (which is today totally missing) ran beneath the pedestal or plinth that originally supported a long vanished bronze statue of the Emperor Hadrian or a statue of a bronze chariot, typical of Roman Triumphal arches.

As important as the missing upper inscription letters and bronze statue, are the surviving lower series of bronze gilded letters, forming a second dedicatory inscription to the Emperor Hadrian, naming the Emperor’s adopted father.

These gilded bronze letters are to be found in private collections and museum depots; in Vienna where there are 9 letters, Berlin where there are 2 letters, in London at the British Museum and at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, where the letters spelling “Trajan”, the name of Hadrian’s adopted father, are stored today. These bronze Roman letters were taken by various European visitors from the mound of rubble beside Hadrian’s Gate at the end of the 19th century.

Here are the letters currently exhibited at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Hadrian, son of Trajan, gilded bronze letter from the gate of Hadrian at Antalya, Turkey, AD 130, Ashmolean Museum

Hadrian, son of Trajan, gilded bronze letter from the gate of Hadrian at Antalya, Turkey, AD 130, Ashmolean Museum

The letters spell “Traiano” in Greek, the language of the eastern Roman empire. This was part of Hadrian’s name, marking him out as the adopted son and heir of the preceding emperor Trajan.

Hadrian’s gate © Carole Raddato

Hadrian’s gate
© Carole Raddato

Text source:

Antique Cities Guide written by Archaeologist Kayhan Dörtlük

Hurriyet article: Missing from Antalya (part 1)

About followinghadrian

I came, I saw, I photographed... follow me in the footsteps of Hadrian!
This entry was posted in Archaeology Travel, Asia Minor, Hadrian, Pamphylia, Turkey and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Hadrian goes to Attaleia – images from Hadrian’s Gate at Antalya

  1. Pingback: Roman Empire Archeology News Today - Roman Empire News and Archeology

  2. Pingback: The mystery of the missing inscription | Aristotle, guide in Greece

  3. Pingback: Το μυστήριο της χαμένης επιγραφής | Αριστοτελης Ξεναγος

  4. Natalia says:

    I had always wondered why it was marvellously intact. No-one mentioned before, that it was encased in the Selcuk Turks walls. Thank you for the information

    Like

  5. Pingback: Ir de putas en Antalya | Telegrama Turco

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