The two thousand year old ancient city Afrodisias' story is as impressive as the myths.
Famous Turkish photographer Ara Guler who traveled to Denizli, a southwestern Turkish city, in 1958 lost his way while returning to Izmir via Aydin and decided to spend the night at the first village he came across along the road. The only lights that were on in the village late at night were at Geyre's café. That small café with its walls surrounded by sculptures and marble tables decorated with handmade embroideries made the artist forget his exhaustion. Guler asks: "Where is this place? How did these stones come here?" The owner of the café says, "There are plenty of them here." Guler was stunned by the response and impatiently waited for daybreak. The village that Guler discovered as a result of losing his way and where he found shelter was Geyre settled on the antique city Afrodisias. A magical adventure awaited the artist who rushed into the historical streets of Geyre after grabbing his camera with the first rays of the sun. Photographer estimating that each shot would record a note from history took photographs in Geyre until all his film was used and rushed to Istanbul. Developing the films and showing them to some archeologists, Guler sent all the photos to Kenan Erim, a faculty member at Princeton University in the US. After inspecting the photographs, Erim immediately came to Istanbul on the first flight and traveled to Geyre.
Then, Guler's photographs changed the future of both Afrodisias and Geyre villagers. Professor Erim began excavations in 1960 with permission from Ankara and tried to excavate whatever lay underground until his death in 1990. Although it has been excavated for many years and artifacts filling many museums were found, it is determined that 80 percent of Afrodisias still lies under the ground. Nowadays Erim's students attempt to classify and commit artifacts into written records.
The temple discovered in the dig of 40 years earned the award of "the best restored 'artwork' in the world". The buildings used for the senate and theatre were also discovered. Most of the thousands of artworks found during the excavation are kept in storage and the remaining artifacts are exhibited in museums. Hundreds of foreigners visit the various Aphrodite sculptures exhibited in museums every day. The Geyre Foundation supported by Kocbank prepared a massive project to establish a museum. After the approval of the "Main Protection Plan" of the area by the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, construction of the museum will begin in the following months. "Afrodisias Archeological Park" is estimated to cost a total of $50 million. The Geyre Association is ready to provide $3 million for the museum that will be constructed for the exhibition of artifacts recovered from the ground.