The ancient city of Aphrodisias is one of the most important archaeological sites of the Greek and Roman periods in Turkey. Aphrodisias lies in the Maeander River basin, in a fertile valley 100 miles southeast of the port of Izmir. Famous for its sanctuary of Aphrodite, the city's patron goddess, Aphrodisias enjoyed a long and prosperous existence from the first century B.C. through the sixth century A.D.
The ancient city of Aphrodisias, dedicated to the goddess of love Aphrodite, was a Hellenistic city which also flourished under Roman and Byzantine rule. Excavations in the 24-meter-high (78 ft) theater hill have revealed layers of settlement going back to the Bronze Age (c. 2800-2200 BC). It was founded in the 5th c. BC and flourished under the Roman Empire (1st c. BC-4th c. AD). Mark Antony recognized the autonomy of Aphrodisias in the 1st c. BC. In the Byzantine period it was first the seat of an archbishopric, then of the metropolitan of Caria.
In the 6th c. AD the name of Aphrodisias was changed to Stavropolis, the city of the Cross, to erase the pagan goddess of love from peopleís minds. As the capital of Caria Aphrodisias was finally called Caria which then became Geyre in Turkish. Later in the 13th century it was abandoned. The city was buried by a series of earthquakes.