This is the city of gladiators, horses, and Roman warriors… It also served an important function as a state judicial center. It is a very special and unique ancient city with the Medusa mosaic that you cannot see anywhere else in the world, located in the middle of a magnificent Music House (Odeon).
It was founded on three hills near Gölhisar District of Burdur. Although the settlement area is large, the structures have been placed on terraces in such a way that their views did not interfere with each other.
Excavations were initiated by the Burdur Museum in 2006, and today is carried out by a team led by Dr. Şükrü Özüdoğru from Mehmet Akif Ersoy University on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
All the architectural remains of the city that can be seen today belong to the Roman Imperial Period. During the Hellenistic Period (2nd and 1st centuries B.C.), the Union of Four Cities “Tetrapolis” was founded with the participation of Kibyra and nearby cities like Boubon, Balboura and Oinoanda. This Union was disbanded by Roman General Murena in 82 B.C.
Afterwards, Kibyra became the part of Asia Province while the other cities were included in the Lycian Union. During the Roman Imperial Period, Kibyra became the judicial center of the Asian State Governor, under the name of “Kibyra Conventus”, to which approximately 25 cities were connected.
The city was devastated with the major earthquake in 23 A.D., but rebuilt thanks to the tax amnesty brought by the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Kibyra enjoyed its brightest and most prosperous period during the 1st and 3rd centuries A.D. Kibyra was famous for its blacksmithing, leatherworking, horse breeding and pottery during those times.
According to Strabon, the geographer in antiquity, about 2000 years ago, “Kibyra could provide 30,000 soldiers and 2,000 mounted soldiers” during the reign of Emperor Augustus.
On the left of entrance an arched imposing monumental gate welcomes you. When you go a little further, the ruins of the most magnificent stadium of Ancient Anatolia with a capacity of 11.000-12.000 can be seen. Gladiators, galloping horses and echoing voices of the enthusiastic spectators who witnessed to those times and stones that resisted over centuries all greet you with a sad nobility.
As you climb the slightly inclined hill, you can see the ruins of the basilica, agora, bath, theater, council building (Bouleuterion), tomb, the tower rotunda and the waterways (Aqueducts).
The most impressive part of this historical city was the Council Building also used as the Music House (Odeon), where you will see the pictures hereafter.
There is an incredibly elegant mosaic section in front of the Council Building / Odeon, which is thought to be the most solid and largest mosaic space in Anatolia, covering an area of 540 square meters (5843 square feet). Above the mosaic floor likening to a black and white painting, the bases of once standing columns and the blue sky behind loom.
The Music House (Odeon), with its seating capacity of 3600 people, is still the largest structure in our country, covered with a roof in ancient times.
It has an amphitheater while its ceiling and part of the entrance columns have been demolished. In the middle of it, there is the mosaic of she devil Medusa, which is made of red, green and white marble, and whose hair is believed to be made of snakes and eyes turning people to stone. With its construction technique, it was the only known example of its kind in the world.
Wherever you go in the amphitheater, as if the eyes of Medusa standing in the middle are looking at you and following you. I couldn’t comprehend what kind of technique had been used. But the eyes looking at me so vivid left me with the dilemma whether I should leave the space right away without being turned into a stone or rather stay longer there to watch this beauty longer.
There were officials working carefully on the mosaic and it was forbidden to step on it. After having been cleaned, it will be taken to protection under a glass surface.
Artifacts extracted from Kibyra are now on display at the Burdur Museum.
Burdur Archaeology Museum hosts a large number of ancient artifacts and statues dating from 7000 B.C. to the present day. It impresses you from outside with its garden and building.
In the mural paintings and reliefs exhibited under the title “Gladiators are in Kibyra”, the gladiator shows of the antiquity were revived. The majority of these gladiators consisted of outlaws, prisoners of war and slaves. It is very difficult to understand what was the motive for the nobles and the public to watch the demonstrations ending with death.
There are also marble sculptures from other periods that are well placed and illuminated in the Burdur Museum. Since the marble resources of the region are very clean and suitable for easy sculpting, they have been used in sculpture making during the course of history.
Kibyra, which is one of the Roman Ancient Cities in many parts of the world and our country, is a special place where you can see the magnificence and life style of the period with its surviving ruins despite the fact that it was destroyed by fires and earthquakes and rebuilt, but again destroyed. It is worth seeing even just for the Medusa mosaic, which is available only in the Music House (Odeon). Go there with good thoughts in mind and get rid of Medusa’s possibility of turning you to a stone …