The Sacred Way from Miletos to Didyma

The Sacred Way connected the city of Miletos to the sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma and has long been considered one of the best-documented examples of a processional road from the ancient world. Many doubts remain about its historical development and exact route, however.

The road seems to have been a conduit for religious festivals and their associated processions, as well as providing access to a number of sacred sites between Miletos and Didyma in the so-called Akron hills. Some have claimed that the earliest processions along this route date to the 6th or 7th centuries BCE (i.e. around 2700 years ago), but the name or concept of a “Sacred Way” may not have been used until the 2nd century BCE (i.e. ~2200 years ago). Later, around 101-2 CE (i.e. about 1900 years ago) the Roman emperor Trajan funded an extensive programme of re-building of the Sacred Way which resulted in the paved section of road which today can be seen uncovered at Didyma.

The paved section of street at Didyma, probably built by Trajan

The paved section of street at Didyma, probably built by Trajan

In the modern day the Sacred Way has become a tourist attraction, with hikes possible along the hilly middle segment of road. The museum at Milet/Balat and the local government in Didim have created a signposted route which can be followed by interested members of the public.

These pages have been published to explain the geographical and historical nature of the Sacred Way, to accompany an re-analysis of its route.

Site designed by Toby C. Wilkinson and Anja Slawisch