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About Patara

The Bouleuterion atPatara. Parliament Building of Lycian League

The Lycian Assembly building is situated in front of the agora and opposite of the theatre in the ancient city of Patara. It is widely believed that the building was the centre of Lycian social and the political life, and perhaps the earliest ever example of a parliamentary building. For centuries the building was buried under a protective blanket of sand blowing across from the dunes of Patara Beach, it is therefore, in remarkably good condition.Recent excavations have revealed that the Assembly has a large rectangular foundation, made of local limestone, as well as utilising existing natural rocks for additional support. Detailed measurements from the site reveal that the foundation is built on a slight slope; the North East corner is 39cm higher than the South West corner. The west edifice measures 42.8m by 30.6m. There are also clear foundations of some 17m high that once supported a roof that, according to inscriptions on his tomb, was built by the famous Lycian architect, Dionysus.Stone seating rows arranged in a semi circle line the back of the building like that of a theatre. It is believed that the seating capacity was 1500 people. Also still in tact is a throne-like perch where the effective president of the assembly would have sat. In front of the marble covered pit there is a stage section. The smaller entrances are to the north and the south, the grand main entrances are arched stone vaults looking towards the agora to one side, and the theatre to the other. Their stoa design is also evident in the theatre.Though at first glance the architectural style belongs more to the Roman period, detailed study has shown that the building was actually built as a bouleuterion; original construction work dates back to the Late Hellenistic period when Patara was capital city of the Lycian League. During Roman times the building was modified and used as an odeon but translated inscriptions uncovered during the excavation testify that the structure was used as the Lycian National Assembly up until the 4th century AD.


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