The province's capital, also called Aydin, enjoys a widespread reputation for its fine figs. Known as Tralleis in ancient times, it was at the center of a celebrated sculpture school. The remains seen today date from the 2nd century A.D. After 1186 the town came under Seljuk rule, and the local museum displays artifacts from the different periods of its history.
Back along the coast, Kusadasi, or 'Bird Island', is a lovely port built along the shores of a glittering bay. The terraced town overlooks the most beautiful inlet of the Aegean and seems to have been created purely for the delight of the holiday-maker. Be sure to visit the famous and popular Kus shopping centre in the Kaleici quarter, where there is night-long entertainment. A large, modern marina facilitates life for visiting yachters.
23 km south of Kusadasi is the charming holidayresort town of Guzelcamli. West of Guzelcamli and 30 km from Kusadasi, is the Dilek Peninsula National Park, and a visit is a must for those with the time. Here amidst incredibly beautiful surroundings are some of the most wonderful views and some of the rarest wild animals in Turkey, including the Anatolian cheetah and some of Turkey's last wild horses. The park is a wildlife preserve and a haven for many species of animals and birds.
The exquisite Menderes River valley, known in the West as the Meander, has been the cradle of many civilizations. Set amidst pine, olive and oleander trees, the magnificent Camici (Bafa) Lake is a lovely place to stopover. Tourists can choose between guest-houses or campsites. To the east of the lake rise the five peaks of the Besparmak Mountains. The Iconoclastic priests who came here to live, from Constantinople, built monasteries, churches, and chapels around the base of the mountains and on the lake's islands. The ruins of the ancient city of Heraklia lie close to the lake, while the remains of Alinda are found on the eastern slopes of the Besparmak Mountains. The valley has witnessed the rise and fall of several great cities, notably Priene, Miletus, Didyma, Aphrodisias, and Hierapolis. This peaceful national reserve is an excellent place for birdwatchers, trekkers, nature-lovers and photographers.
Gullubahce (Priene) was one of the most active ports of the lonian Federation. The gridlike system of streets introduced in the fourth century B.C. by Hippodamos of Miletus is a superb and early example of town planning.
Milet ( Miletus), like Priene, was a great lonian port and the birthplace of several philosophers and sages. The theater justifies a visit, and be sure to see the well-preserved ruins of the Faustina baths and the Archaeological Museum.
Although Didim ( Didyma) can only boast of a single monument, it is nevertheless a marvellous site. The Temple of Apollo here was one of antiquity's most sacred places. Many times looted and burned, the sanctuary still impresses with its elegant beauty. A portico of double colonnades surround the colossal temple. Not far from the archaeological site, the beautiful beach of Altinkum tempts with its many guest houses. Akbuk is another holiday resort in the region, with nice beach hotels.
Although the history of Geyre (Aphrodisias) stretches back in time, the city, which was dedicated to Aphrodite, goddess of love and fertillity, rose to prominence in the first century B.C. Some of the richest treasures of ancient times were uncovered in the excavations of this city. The public buildings are handsomely adorned with marble that was carved with astonishing skill, producing remarkable temples, monuments, baths, a theater and a magnificent stadium. The reputation of the city's craftsmen for the exquisite finesse of their statuary and marble sculpting spread through the civilized world, and Aphrodisias became the center of the greatest sculpting school of antiquity. Many of its marvellous works of art are now housed in the local museum. The theater and bouleuterion are among the city's best-preserved ruins.
Thirty-five kilometers east of Aydin lies Sultanhisar, host to an Art and Culture Festival every spring. Near by, in the quiet of the olive trees, are the ruins of ancient Nysa, famous in the second century A.D. as an educational center.