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Knidos (Greek Κνίδος, Latin Cnidus) is an archaeological site on the western end of the long, narrow Datça Peninsula in Muğla Province. This Dorian Greek city in ancient Caria was located where the Mediterranean and Aegean meet. This made it an important port on regional trade routes. Knidos was originally located both on an island and the mainland, but they were artificially connected, forming two harbors.

Like other cities in Asia Minor, it was incorporated into the Persian Empire in the 6th century BC, and it changed hands frequently during the Hellenistic era. Knidos, which flourished during the Hellenistic era, was known for its medical school and its wine. However it was best known for the Aphrodite of Knidos – the cult statue at the Temple of Aphrodite in Knidos. Made by the sculptor Praxiteles around the 4th century, it is the first known life-size nude female classical statue. Though it did not survive, several Roman copies exist, such as the Colonna Venus at the Vatican Museums. The original was apparently brought to a palace in Constantinople in the early 5th century AD, but it was destroyed when the palace burned down later that century. The Romans incorporated Knidos into the province of Asia as a free city. In Late Antiquity, Knidos was part of the province of Caria, with its bishop under the metropolitan of Aphrodisias. Knidos was apparently abandoned after the mid-7th century AD due to severe earthquakes and Arab invasions.

The extensive archeological site has several noteworthy structures, including a theater, paved streets, and multiple temples. Knidos had two harbors, a smaller military harbor to the west, and a larger commercial harbor to the east. Its five churches vividly illustrate how the city changed and continued to prosper in Late Antiquity.

There are two Late Antique churches by the military harbor. “Church E” is a three-aisled basilica with a narthex and floor mosaics that are now covered. The second church is a smaller chapel, with an additional complex consisting of several rooms. “Church D” is located to the east next to the Harbor Street, the western street of the city’s grid plan. It is also a three-aisled basilica, richly decorated with marble floors. “Church C” was built on the site of a temple dedicated to Dionysius and constructed from pieces of the dismantled temple.  “Church B” is another three-aisled basilica, which was built on a terrace next to a Doric Stoa. Interestingly, it has Arabic graffiti from the 670s - when the Umayyads, the Islamic Caliphate, invaded the region.

 Section under construction 

Small Theater

“Church C”

Umayyad-era Arabic graffiti at “Church B”

“Church C” built on the site of the Temple of Dionysius

“Church D”

“Church E”

Chapel by the Military Harbor


Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium


Knidos Album (Byzantine Legacy Flickr)

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