- Category: ROUTE 15
Knidos or Cnidus is an ancient settlement located in Turkey. Although Knidos was originally founded as a Spartan colony on the site of the present town of Datca in the 7th century B.C., its inhabitants relocated it at a later date to its present site at the tip of the Resadiye promontory. It was an ancient Greek city of Caria, part of the Dorian Hexapolis. It was situated on the Datça peninsula, which forms the southern side of the Sinus Ceramicus, now known as Gulf of Gökova. By the fourth century BC, Knidos was located at the site of modern Tekir, opposite Triopion Island.
It was built partly on the mainland and partly on the Island of Triopion or Cape Krio. The debate about it being an island or cape is caused by the fact that in ancient times it was connected to the mainland by a causeway and bridge. Today the connection is formed by a narrow sandy isthmus. By means of the causeway the channel between island and mainland was formed into two harbors, of which the larger, or southern, was further enclosed by two strongly built moles that are still in good part entire.
The inhabitants of ancient Knidos were excellent mariners with reputations that rivaled those of the Phoenicians in their seamanship. Threatened by a Persian invasion in 546 B.C., the Knidians sought to defend themselves by cutting a channel through the neck of the peninsula. They abandoned it, preferring to submit to Persian rule instead. Ancient Knidos was a city known for its artists, philosophers, and engineers and it grew wealthy through the wine trade. Eudoxos, one of the most famous ancient mathematicians and astronomers, Ctesias, the writer on Persian history, was from Knidos as was Sostratos, the architect who designed the lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Never ones to pick a fight, the Knidians also surrendered to Alexander without a battle and later we see them part of the Kingdom of Pergamon and then, after 129 B.C., of Rome. During Byzantine times Knidos was an insignificant settlement and it was abandoned entirely some time during the 7th century A.D. The city had two harbors: the commercial port was located on the northern side of a promontory while the military port was located on the southern. Knidos was a planned city, built on the Hippodamos grid system. There are four wide streets running parallel to one another east and west that are intersected by a steep street of steps that divides the city into two. West of the first street at the northwestern end of the city was the military port and north of it was the Knidian agora.
The extreme length of the city was little less than a mile, and the whole intramural area is still thickly strewn with architectural remains. The walls, both of the island and on the mainland, can be traced throughout their whole circuit; and in many places, especially round the acropolis, at the northeast corner of the city, they are remarkably perfect. The first Western knowledge of the site was due to the mission of the Dilettante Society in 1812, and the excavations executed by C. T. Newton in 1857-1858.
The agora, the theatre, an odeum, a temple of Dionysus, a temple of the Muses, a temple of Aphrodite and a great number of minor buildings have been identified, and the general plan of the city has been very clearly made out. The most famous statue by Praxiteles, the Aphrodite of Knidos, was made for Cnidus. It has perished, but late copies exist, of which the most faithful is in the Vatican Museums. In a temple enclosure Newton discovered a fine seated statue of Demeter, which he sent back to the British Museum, and about three miles south-east of the city he came upon the ruins of a splendid tomb, and a colossal figure of a lion carved out of one block of Pentelic marble, ten feet in length and six in height, which has been supposed to commemorate the great naval victory, the Battle of Cnidus in which Conon defeated the Lacedaemonians in 394 BC.
Knidos was a city of high antiquity and as a Hellenic city probably of Lacedaemonian colonization. Along with Halicarnassus (present day Bodrum, Turkey) and Kos, and the Rhodian cities of Lindos, Kamiros and Ialyssos it formed the Dorian Hexapolis, which held its confederate assemblies on the Triopian headland, and there celebrated games in honor of Apollo, Poseidon and the nymphs. The city was at first governed by an oligarchic senate, composed of sixty members, and presided over by a magistrate; but, though it is proved by inscriptions that the old names continued to a very late period, the constitution underwent a popular transformation. The situation of the city was favorable for commerce, and the Knidians acquired considerable wealth, and were able to colonize the island of Lipara, and founded a city on Corcyra Nigra in the Adriatic. They ultimately submitted to Cyrus, and from the battle of Eurymedon to the latter part of the Peloponnesian War they were subject to Athens. In their expansion into the region, the Romans easily obtained the allegiance of Knidians, and rewarded them for help given against Antiochus by leaving them the freedom of their city. During the Byzantine period there must still have been a considerable population: for the ruins contain a large number of buildings belonging to the Byzantine style, and Christian sepulchres are common in the neighborhood.
Rescue excavations carried out since 1996 and so far completed two-thirds of the Stoa, the 3rd century, was built by the famous architect Sostratos. 113 meters long and 16 meters wide 5x3.80 m of soft-formed small rooms. All of the rooms open up to the south. Findings from the excavations are on display in the small museum in the city.