Nysa on the Maeander, Ephesus, Turkey | CruiseBe
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Nysa on the Maeander

History and museums
ancient city, greek and roman ruins

Nysa on the Maeander was an ancient city of Anatolia, whose remains are in the Sultanhisar district of Aydın Province of Turkey, 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of the Ionian city of Ephesus.

At one time it was reckoned as belonging Caria or Lydia, but under the Roman Empire it was within the province of Asia, which had Ephesus for capital, and the bishop of Nysa was thus a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Ephesus.


In Greek mythology, Dionysus, the god of wine was born or raised in Nysa or Nyssa (Ancient Greek: Νύσα or Νύσσα), a name that was consequently given to many towns in all parts of the world associated with cultivation of grapes. The name "Nysa" is mentioned in Homer's Iliad (Book 6.132-133), which refers to a hero named Lycurgus, "who once drove the nursing mothers of wine-crazed Dionysus over the sacred mountains of Nysa". But the city on the Maeander was named instead for Nysa, a wife of Antiochus I Soter, who reigned from 281 to 261 BC and founded the city on the site of an earlier town called Athymbra (Ancient Greek Ἄθυμβρα), a name that continued in use until the second half of the 3rd century BC, but not in the earliest coinage of Nysa, which is of the next century.

The geographer Strabo began his studies under the rhetorician Aristodemus of Nysa the Younger, a grandson of the famous Posidonius, whose influence is manifest in Strabo's Geography. Nysa was then a centre of study that specialized in Homeric literature and the interpretation of epics.

Nysa was ruled by the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire, the Roman Empire and its continuation, the Byzantine Empire and by the Turks, until its final abandonment after being sacked by Tamerlane in 1402.


Of the bishops of Nysa in Asia, Theodotus took part in the Council of Ephesus (431); Maeonius in the Council of Chalcedon (451); Sisinnius in the Third Council of Constantinople (680) and the Trullan Council (692); Theodosius in the Second Council of Nicaea (787); Nicolaus in the Council of Constantinople (869); and Michael in the Photian Council of Constantinople (879).

No longer a residential bishopric, Nysa in Asia is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.


There are important ruins on the site from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods. The well-preserved theatre, built during the Roman Imperial period, is famous for its friezes depicting the life of Dionysus, god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine. It has a capacity 12.000 people. The library dating from the 2nd century A.D. is considered to be Turkey's second-best preserved ancient library structure after the "Celsus Library" of Ephesus. The stadium of Nysa, which suffered from floods and is therefore partially damaged, has a capacity of 30,000 people. The bouleuterion (senate), later adapted as an odeon, with 12 rows of seats, offers room for up to 600-700 people. Other significant structures include the agora, gymnasion and the Roman baths. The 100 m long Nysa Bridge, a tunnel-like substructure, was the second largest of its kind in antiquity.

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