Didyma was declared as county in 1991; it is in peninsula shape surrounded by Muğla City in the east; Aegean Sea in the west and south; Bafa Lake and Menderes River in the north. Its surface area is about 402 km2. While Didyma is located in Aydın City jurisdiction; it is an important tourism destination 70 km far from Kuşadası and 110 km far from Bodrum. While Didyma is located on one of the peninsulas surrounding Güllük Bay (the other is Bodrum peninsula), it has tens of small bays along 90 km-long sandy coastal area. Among these bays, the most remarkable one is world-famous Aegean beach called Altınkum located before the hotels area.
Owing to its geographical position, Didyma has great advantage. Number of ruins of the antique world and places in the Aegean Sea are away only in short distances available for daily trips. For instance, Miletus the philosopher city of the antique age is only 20 km-away from Didyma. Tales, one of the seven scholars of antique world, Anaksimandros the first chorographer of the world, philosopher and historian Hekaitos, city planner and architect Hippodamos all lived in Miletus. While Miletus was on the sea side when it was established, today it is located in the middle of a plain because of alluviums transported by the Greater Menderes. Another impact of the Menderes River is the Bafa Lake 30 km away from county
center. While Bafa Lake was one of the bays in the Aegean Sea, it turned into a lake due to alluviums transported by the river. There is also holiday district of Akbük in 15 km far from Didyma, where forest and sea meet.
Due to low level of humidity rate in the air and its geographical structure, Didyma is one of the two perfect locations in the world good for asthma patients. Along its 90 km-shore, although Didyma is in a very hot climate belt, low humidity rate offers a good alternative for those who search for shelter exhausting hot weather of summer.
Didyma is considered in the Mediterranean climate which is hot and draught during summers and warm and precipitate during winters. Due to dominant Mediterranean climate in the region, maquis and small bushes cover the region. Under these conditions, fruit and vegetable agriculture are maintained in the county.
The first settlement traces of Didyma County go back to Neolithic period (8000 B.C.). Myken colonies were found around 16th century; then, they were followed by Cretans and Aka colonies. As Didyma is within the boundaries of “Karia” region, as sacred place of Miletus, it was occupied by Lykians, Persians, Seleucids, Attalids, Romans, Byzantium and Turks. As a result of the 1st Crusaders, it was recaptured by Byzantium. The Karia territory was captured by Menteşe State in 1280; Aydınoğlu State in 1300 and Ottoman Empire in 1413. After the great earthquake in the 14th Century, the temple was ruined and Didyma settlement continued its existence as small Rum village called Yoran / Yeronda until the Republican period. There was a Turkish settlement composed of ten-twelve households on the northeast of the Yoran village. The settlement was emptied after the Independence War in 1922. Then in 1924, Turkish immigrants from Balkans were settled in this area.
In the Ottoman Empire period, the village was called as “Yeronda – Yoran”. The settlement around Apollon Temple until earthquake of 1955 was called as Hisar; then it was moved 1 km south of the town in 1961 after distribution of disaster homes with new reference of “Yenihisar”.
As Yenihisar remained as village until 1967, the municipality was established in 1968. Subject to tourism activities afterwards of 1980s, the district exhibited fast progress. Finally, it became a county in 1991. Then, its name was changed with Didim in 1997 in order to prevent similarity in name originated from “Didymaion”.
According to its geographical position, Didyma has witnessed remarkable civilizations in the history and it has geopolitical importance. Although western world claims that all civilizations originated from Greek civilization, Anatolia continued to melt all civilization in its own culture bucket to create new unique civilizations.
At Didyma’s gate, Apollon Temple is found as the most impressive independent monument of the western Anatolia shores. Monumental dimensions of the temple and its unique plan as well as its protected intact shape are its magnificent characteristics. In the Greek world, there is no any other temple greater than Apollon Temple in terms of its dimensions. The Apollon Temple designed in the Hellenistic period suggests that architecture of massive buildings is not sole privilege of Romans. Didyma has never had a city characteristic. Temple and fortune telling under its sole authority were within the territory of Miletus; and its priest was among the important official figures of the city.
Didyma word was not originated from Greek; instead, it was originated from Anatolian languages. Just by a chance, the Greek word of “didymi (twins)” resembles, it wakes the assumption that it was related with Apollon and his twin
sister Artemis. Apollon Temple was center of fortune telling in its period.
It is known that visitors from Miletus and neighboring cities were entering into the city through the Panormos Port (around Mavişehir) and they reach to the temple via the sacred road. There were statues along the both sides of the “Sacred Road”. Majority of these statues dated as 6th Century B.C. remained in their original places until they were taken by Newton to the British Museum in 1858. Many of them were in figures sitting in right position and from the Archaic period.
According to a Roman legend, stone figure of Medusa who is one of Gorgon sisters who can turn someone into stone just with her gaze was considered precious in terms of art and history dimensions; and it is considered symbol of Didyma and Apollon Temple.
There is “Artemis Sacred Yard” at the end of the “Sacred Road” between Miletus and Apollon Temple. This sacred road was between the temple and Panormas Piers located in today’s Mavişehir. People who come for prayer and some wishes climb down to the pier in Panormos Port; and they used to walk along the 4 km-long marble “the Sacred Road” surrounded by lion and Branhid statues to the temple.
“Orakl”, women priests as it was in Claros or “Orakl Priests” were being given in “Hexametric” form; that is in six-sentence poems. Visitor had to pass through the sacred road first to reach “Orakl”.
Visitors who came to Didyma performed religious services under leading of priests; organized parades; and performed torchlight procession at nights. In the blessing periods, residents of Miletus used to come to Panormas Port; and they used to walk this 4 km-stone road (its last two kilometers was ornamented with statuses) by singing songs (Paion: Sacred songs) and they used to reach the temple. This campaign used to take four days.