Adada, an ancient city in the Pisidia region, is near the village of Sağrak of İsparta’s Sütçüler township. The city rests to the south-east of İsparta and the Lake Kovada. You can reach Adada after driving 50 kilometres past Eğridir on the road that goes to Sütçüler. It is also possible to reach Adada from the Kovada-Eğridir junction on the new Aksu road that connects İsparta and Antalya, but some parts of the road are as yet incomplete. The ancient city is surrounded by hills blanketed by pine and juniper trees. Adada is one of the few ancient cities in Turkey that has managed to survive to our day with very little damage. This place is called the Karabavlu Valley by the locals. The old names for Sütçüler, Baulo and Karabaolu or Karabavlu, are believed to originate from the name St. Paul. These two settlement areas on the Eprge-Antioch (Yalvaç) road were travelled by St. Paul.
Some researchers believe that the word Adada comes from the Luvice language, a language of the old inhabitants of Anatolia, or from the Pisid language, a language which succeeded the Luvice language. Although this is not certain, the word “Ada” might have been formed from the “wanda” or “anda” suffixes. The word “Ada” could have also been derived from the word “Uda” (fortress) and some other words.
Excavations looking into the area in the prehistoric times show that Pisidia was an important cultural centre in Anatolia starting about 7,000 B.C., during the Neolithic times. Excavations in the area between the Tarhuntassa region of the Hittites, which covered Konya and its surroundings, and the west of Pitassa (the old name of Pisidia) are expected to reveal important clues about these prehistoric times.
The name Adada was given to the city of Artemidoros, according to the first-century B.C writer. (Strabo XII, 570). Later Ptolemoios (V 5,8) and the Byzantine historian Heracles (647,4) refer to the city as Odada. However, the city has been dated back to the second century B.C. due to an agreement document found in Termessos. This friendship agreement between Odada and Termessos, another important city in the region, was signed against Selge, a common enemy of the cities. Historical sources say that Selge, especially during the Hellenistic times, followed an imperialist policy against Termessos and it fought against cities around it, including Pednelissos. The agreement put forth that Adada and Termessos would help each other in fighting Selge and also against the enemies of democracy in these cities. Some researchers believe that rather than Selge, the agreement was signed against the Kingdom of Bergama, which had become very powerful at that time and tried to destroy democracy in Termessos. Through this agreement, the sides committed themselves to help each other should either be attacked or faced any threat against their democracy. This agreement was very important for both Termessos and Adada since it helped both cities to gain a democratic administrative structure and also take on the status of a “city-state,” or “polis.” Researchers think that the agreement was signed sometime in the period of 190-164 B.C.
Another important implication of this agreement is that people of Termessos and Adada had blood ties. When one examines the evidence closely, it can be seen that there are many names from the Termessos and Adada people in this text. The Kingdom of Bergama, through a testament, left its land to Rome in 133 B.C., thus beginning the era of the Roman dominion in Anatolia. In this age, unlike western Anatolian cities, most of the Pisidia cities managed to stay independent. The independent city of Adada printed its first coins during this time. Again in the Pisidia region, especially during the time of Augustus, the Coloni cities which were a symbol of the Roman sovereignty were established. The most important of these cities were Antioch (Antakya), Kremna and Komama.
In the days of the Roman Empire, the rules of the Emperor Trajan, Hadrian and Antoninus Pius (114-161 A.D) were the best times for Pisidia and for all of Anatolia. In this peaceful era which was called “Pax Romana,” the cities of Pisidia developed and new buildings were constructed in line with the increasing wealth. In 212 A.D. a law was passed granting a Roman citizenship to everyone living on the empire’s land, and this further increased the prosperity and wealth of people. However, these developments slowed down by the end of the third century A.D.
According to the Greek historian Strabo, “The Pisidians, who lived in the mountains used to live as tribes ruled by the Tirans, just like their neighbours the Kilikians (Kilikyali) and they used to be pirates” (Strabo VII-3). The strongest characteristic of the Pisidians was they loved their independence, and they were warriors. The best example of this was the people of Sagalossos who put up a valiant fight against Alexander the Great. This shows that military ventures made up one of the main sources of income for the Pisidians.
Like other Pisidians, some citizens of Adada left their homes and served in the armies of the Hellenistic kings as mercenaries after the time of Alexander the Great. Tombstones of these mercenaries in Cyprus and Fenike (the city of Sidon) bear witness to this.
When the Roman Empire was divided into two in 395 A.D., the region continued to exist under the Eastern Roman Empire, later the Byzantine Empire, for many years. Starting from the early years of Christianity, there was a growing interest in this new religion. St. Paul and Antioch (Antakya) visited this area. St. Paul and his friends came to Perge in Pamphylia for the first time around 45 A.D. After staying in Perge for one day, they went to the Kestros (Aksu) River. They crossed the Taurus mountain range with great difficulty and reached Antioch through Eğridir.
Researcher G. Ercenk wrote that the apostolic route followed by St. Paul on his first mission should be the road that passes through Perge, the Kestros Valley, Adada and Antioch. The duration of his reported journey is quite similar to information provided by other sources, which tends to support Ercenk’s thesis. Moreover, the similarity between the names of Baulo, Karabaulo and Paul (Paulus) also support this thesis, despite the competing theory of researcher D. Frech. Frech accepts the existence of the Perge-Adada road but he claims that this road was built during a later era.
Some documents show that the first official church organization was built in the fourth century AD in this region and a number of cities in Sagalassos, namely Kremna, Selge, and Adada, became centres of the episcopacy. Again, documents show that Adada housed the assistant bishop of Antioch in Pisidia. Adada sent representatives to religious councils that convened in a number of cities in 325, 381,451, 692, and 787 AD. This shows that Adada was an active city until the ninth century.
Much later when Anatolia was conquered by the Turks, the Byzantine Empire started to shrink and move towards the west. First there was a resistance in the Pisidia region against Seljuk sovereignty but in 1203 A.D. Kilic Aslan III invaded Ispara and placed Turkmen nomadic tribes ruled by Hamid Bey in Eğridir and Yalvaç. Later in this area, the Hamidoğullari Principality was established, which was later taken into Ottoman territory between 1390 and 1422. Since then, Adada has been an area of ruins. In 1970, the Yeniköy was built across the ancient city, which helped visitors to come here more easily. In recent years, as Anatolia has gained prominence as a tourist destination, Adada has also become a very popular spot for a large number of tourists.