I had to sit down for this one, and that’s something I rarely do in museums, even though I’ve been told that I should.
But I was absolutely enraptured by the graceful, gossamer Statue of a Dancing Woman from Perge. She holds the plaited folds of her marble dress and lashes them about as the wind catches and lifts them just a little. With her white and grey body and dress, fractured, fragmented, and fraying, she is ethereal.
And it was a perfect moment in a spectacular day.
I arrived to my hotel around 11 last night and had a quick bite under a dark sky, overlooking a blackened seascape, before a late bedtime. This morning I woke and had breakfast sitting in almost the same place, on a terrace above the Roman Harbor, with the Mediterranean Sea and the Taurus Mountains in the distance.
Over my Turkish breakfast (I love Turkish breakfast, by the way) I scoured the guidebooks and websites for a way to spend my day here. I haven’t really prepared for this, but with little time I knew I would be able to make a quick and worthy decision.
And I did.
I had found the Antalya Museum, a 2 mile walk to the west of my hotel. I could have taken the tram, but couldn’t be bothered with figuring out how to use it. Further, the day was glorious. And then I had social distancing to consider.
The tram may have been empty, however, because there are no throngs of tourists in the streets here, just a few of us meandering around. And, of course, there are the locals as well, but not many of them are about either.
Still, the locals with whom I crossed paths are as friendly as ever. A gentleman approached me in the park and offered me tea, which I, of course, declined, as it is usually a bridge to some sort of salesmanship. But it was normal, and that was nice. Leaving him behind, I continued walking west on my morning mission.
The walk was perfect, and the museum at its end was well worth it. If you have any interest in ancient history, the Antalya Museum is a must. Seriously – it is not to be missed.
The collection begins with prehistory, in the Paleolithic Era, when the earliest of our ancestors here were making the crudest of tools. The time estimate on that is up to 2 million years ago.
The various cases take us to early pottery, a mere 7000 years ago.
And eventually up to the Ancient Greeks, a scant 2500 years ago.
And these are all amazing, but the halls and halls of statuary from the Roman city of Perge (2nd century AD) are really the draw here.
And they are extraordinary. Here, the Roman Emperor Hadrian stands, gazing down from his perch.
And here are the Three Graces.
And here Hermes glances up while stretching. Or perhaps he is lacing his shoe.
I walked out of the museum in awe. The collection is breathtaking, and being in its presence energized and rejuvenated me.
As I returned to the center of town and Hadrian’s Gate, with it’s deeply grooved pavers, I kept getting stuck on this last point: I’m traveling again.
And I want more.