One of the world’s best collections of ancient Roman sculpture is in the relatively small Antalya Archaeological Museum, on Turkey’s Southern coast. An ancient settlement itself, Antalya is within 90 minute’s drive of five ruined ancient cities, and the pick of the finds from them reside in the city’s museum. Not only do they have simply beautiful sculptures on display, the displays themselves are some of the most respectful and tasteful I’ve seen anywhere in the world; some of the rooms are almost temple-like.
One of my favorite pieces in the museum was a sculpture of the goddess Artemis of Perge. Her face had a strength and clarity I think captured the essence of her myth well. When I’m a little more settled, I’d like to put a large print of this image up on my wall – lacking the ability to afford actual replica statues, I think decorating with photographs of ancient art would be a tasteful second choice.
Another image I’d like to print is from the sculpture atop the Tomb of Ariadne – it had the same sort of lighting and color but was a gentler, more subdued piece of art, showing Ariadne waking from a dream. I think it’d look gorgeous printed about three feet wide and hanging on cream walls. Well, someday I’ll be in one country for more than 10 months, and able to have “things” again (fingers crossed)!
The museum’s collections also include some Byzantine finds and various ethnographic items showing Turkish life from a century ago. The entrance fee is a bit high – 15 TL as of January 2010 – but absolutely worth it if you are a fan of ancient sculpture. Antalya is Turkey’s fastest growing city and a major sea & sun tourism destination; it’s very easy to get to as it’s connected by budget airlines all over Europe. If you go, I recommend seeing the museum first and then taking a tour of the ruined cities in the surrounding area, especially Perge. We went through Mithra Travel for a tour and were very pleased with how extremely knowledgeable our guide was; I usually hate guided tours but would recommend this company without hesitation.
As you can see on the map, the museum is a couple kilometers outside the Old City, which can be a nice walk along the coast in good weather, or more simply a quick ride on the tram (approximately every 20-25 minutes). We were there in January during a storm, and I can say from experience that the bus stop does not provide much shelter from sleet coming down sideways. [mappress]