General InfoDidyma was originally a pre-Greek cult center with a spring and sacred grove. The Ionian Greeks adopted and Hellenized the center and by the 7th century B.C. the fame of its oracle had spread to as far as Egypt. The earliest temple of Apollo on the site was an unroofed Ionic building enclosing the sacred spring and a Naiskos. It was completed in the first half of the 6th century B.C. A second and larger temple on the same spot was destroyed by the Persians early in the 5th century B.C. while it was still under construction.
Didyma was the largest and most significant sanctuary on the territory of the great classical city Miletus which, before the Persian invasion in the middle of the 6th century BC, was considered the greatest and wealthiest of all Greek cities.
Didyma was an Ionian sanctuary near Miletos. The oracle of Apollo was the most renowned oracle of the Hellenic world. The first sanctuary was destroyed by the Persians in 494 BC. Alexander the Great tried to rebuild it but the project was never completed.
Associated with the ministries of Paul, Timothy, and the apostle John, the city played a significant role in the spread of early Christianity. Ephesus and its inhabitants are mentioned more than twenty times in the New Testament. Didyma (translates as ‘twin’ – and the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis) was an ancient Ionian sanctuary containing a temple and oracle of Apollo, the Didymaion. Next to Delphi, Didyma was the most renowned oracle of the Hellenic world, first mentioned among the Greeks in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo . Didyma was the largest and most significant sanctuary on the territory of the great classical city Miletus. To approach it, visitors would follow the Sacred Way to Didyma, about 17 km long.
The sanctuary was administered by the family of the Branchidae, who claimed descent from a purely eponymous Branchos, a youth beloved of Apollo. The priestess, seated above the sacred spring, gave utterances that were interpreted by the Branchidae. in the 6th century; the spring dried up, it was reported, and the archaic oracle was silenced. Though the sanctuaries of Delphi and Ephesus were swiftly rebuilt, Didyma remained a ruin until the first steps of restoration were undertaken, in 334 BC. Inscriptions, including inquiries and responses, and literary testimony record Didyma's role as an oracle, with the "grim epilogue"of Apollo's supposed sanction of Diocletian's persecution of Christians, until the closing of the temples under Theodosius I.
In & Around Didyma
Little is known about activities at Didyma during the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., it it seems to have suffered a decline. The sanctuary and the office of the oracle was revived at ca. 311 B.C. when the sacred spring reappeared (or was rediscovered) on the occassion of a visit from Alexander the Great. In the following decades Selencus embellished the sanctuary and commissioned the new Hellenistic Temple of Apollo. The sanctuary grew in wealth and fame and work on the temple continued for the next 200 years.
In 278 B.C. the sanctuary suffered under the raids of Gauls, but construction work on the temple was resumed. At 70 B.C. the sanctuary was sacked by pirates and work on the temple stopped. The sanctuary continued to function and in A.D. 100. Trajan commissioned a new paved road to the sanctuary from Miletus.
By the 3rd century A.D. Christianity had become well established in the Miletus area and the sanctuary at Didyma fell into disuse. At ca. A.D. 262 the Temple of Apollo (which had never been completed, despite five centuries of service), was converted into a fortress against the invading Goths.