Priene was one of the twelve cities of the Pan-Ionian League and it is located approximately 10km north of Meander (Menderes) river. The Priene ancient city had a population 5,000 people, it was situated just at the point where the where the Meander River ran onto the Aegean. Because of the silt that had been carried by the river and filled up the sea, now the ancient city is 16km inland from the Aegean sea.
The name "Priene" comes from the ancient Luwi tongue and is a combination of the words "pura" or "pira" and "wana" or "ana" which define the early settlement as "a fortified habitation". In his work "Geography", Strabon recounts the founding of Priene, naming Aipytos, the son of Neleus. He also speaks of Philotos and his small band of settlers who later came from Thebes. The first city was probably a peninsula with two harbours but there is little factual knowledge of these early days. In 495 BC the citizens of Priene participated in the Battle Lade with their contribution of 12 warships. The result was that their city was also raised to the ground by the Persians. In 359 BC Priene was rebuilt on its present site which in those days was nearer the sea. It had a port called Naulochos. The Athena Temple which is still impressive today was dedicated to Alexander the Great at year 334 BC.
Priene is best known for being the oldest and finest example of the Hippodamian system of town planning which was based on a grid system with streets intersecting at right angles. The original plan is still visible today.
Priene was a city of which to be proud, as was known as "The Pompei of Anatolia". In the Hellenistic Period Priene was governed from Athens and later came under the rule of the Kings of Pergamon before the time of the Roman Period and administration from Romebegan in the 2nd century AD. The Bishop's Church which is near the Theatre is evidence that the city continued to develop into the Byzantine Period. During the Roman period the Meander River began to silt up its estuary and gradually Priene found itself in the middle of a swamp which proved a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. Malaria struck in epidemic proportions and people moved elsewhere to try to escape the disease.
By around 1400 the city had been completely abandoned. Today the ancient city of Priene is a great example of Greek style architecture and city planning.
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