Datça is a small harbour and holiday resort located south of the Datça Peninsula, which provides a natural boundary between the Aegean Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. The town, which is located 75 km /47 miles away from Marmaris, can be reached by a scenic winding road overlooking the beautifulGulf of Hisarönü where the beautiful beaches of the confortable holiday villages are washed by crystal-clear waters. Around Datça marina, bars, cafés, restaurants and shops keep the tourist’s interest, but old Datça with its restored houses should not be missed.
Datça is the nearest town (38 km/ 24 miles) to the ancient site of Cnidus located at the end of the Peninsula.
A daily ferry line links Datça (from Körmen Harbour located 10 km /6.2 miles of Datça, on the northen coast of the peninsula) to Bodrum, and hydrofoils link Datça to Rhodos via small Greek Symi island located at a short distance.
A scenic road overlooking the Gulf of Hisarönü connects Marmaris to Datça and leads to this ancient city.
Located at the far end of the Datça Peninsula (Cape Krio) in a beautiful natural environment, Cnidus, a city of Dorian origin in Caria, belonged to the Dorian confederacy together with Halicarnassus, Cos on the island of the same name, Camirus, Lalysus and Lindus on Rhodes Island. Together they formed what used to be called the Hexapolis, in Greek “the six cities”. Yet it became the Pentapolis, “the five cities”, when Halicarnassus was excluded from the confederacy because one of its citizen, Agasicles, neglected to make the offering of the tripod he won during the games of the hexapolis, to Apollo. The cities had a common sanctuary, a temple to Apollo named the Triopion, on the promontory on which Cnidus was located. Already in the 7C BC, Cnidus had reached its cultural, artistic and commercial apogée. Spared by the Persians , contested by the Athenians and the Spartans, the city was occupied by Alexander the Great in 333.
Around 350 BC Praxiteles sculpted two statues, one draped and one nude of the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. Praxiteles’ model was Phryne, one of the greatest “hetaerae”, or courtesans, of his time. Cos prefered the more decent draped version and Cnidus purchased the rejected one, the Nude Aphrodite, the first female nude statue in classical sculpture, whose renown immortalized the city. However the statue of the goddess, which was exhibited in her temple, is known only through copies. The following description from the “Amores”, attributed to rhetorician, satirist and traveler Lucian (Samosata/ Commagene ca. 125 – ? ca. 192), praises vehemently the statue:
“We stopped in Cnidos, at the Temple of Aphrodite (Venus), where stands her famous statue made by Praxiteles. When we entered the precincts we felt the caressing breath of the goddess coming towards us. The walled space was not made sterile with pavements but was devoted to fertility as suits Aphrodite. The fruit-trees towered all over the place, forming a dense vault. The myrtle, her favourite species, unfolded its branches, laden with berries….. In the midddle of the temple stood the goddess – a most beautiful statue of Carian marble – smiling just a little haughty with a grin that slightly parted her lips. Draped by no garment, all her beauty was uncovered and revealed, except in so far for her private parts hidden unobtrusively with one hand. So great was the power of the craftsman’s art that the hard unyielding marble did justice to every limb….The temple had a door on both sides for the benefit of those who also wished to have a good view of the goddess from behind, so that no part of her be left unadmired. It was easy therefore for people to enter by the other door and survey the beauty of her back. And so we decided to see all of the goddess. Then, when the door had been opened by the woman responsible for keeping the keys, we were filled with an immediate wonder for the beauty we beheld.”
Eudoxus, the great astronomer and mathematician pupil of Plato and inventor of the horizontal sundial, Ctesias the physician who stayed at the court of the Persian king Artaxerxes was the author of the “History of the Persian” and “History of India”, and Sostratus the architect of the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) were all native of the city. Like Cos (the birthplace of Hippocrates), Cnidus was the location of a famed school of medicine.
Around 188 BC, Cnidus was devastated by plunderers. Later in 129 BC, Cnidus joined the Roman Province of Asia. The city was deserted little by little during the Byzantine period.
The city was built partly on the mainland and partly on the Island of Tropion which anciently were connected by a causeway and bridge, and now by a narrow sandy isthmus. The channel between island and mainland was formed into two harbours. The southern and larger harbour was further enclosed by two strongly-built moles.
The Hellenistic walls, both insular and continental, can be traced in many places, especially round the acropolis.
The main ruins of the city which rose in tiers on the hill slopes, consist of the agora, the great upper and the small lower theatres, the odeon, the Temple of Aphrodite, the Corinthian Temple, the Temple of Demeter. The Statue of Demeter, discovered during the excavations executed by Newton in 1857-1858, was sent to the British Museum, as well as the colossal Statue of a Lion, carved out of one block of Pentelic marble, which crowned the pyramid roof of a mausoleum located 3 km/ 1.9 miles south-east of the city.