Excavations conducted in the ancient city indicate that Metropolis is the second settlement in Anatolia believed to have housed a temple of Ares -- the Olympian god of war and son of Zeus in Greek mythology

Excavations since 1989 to unearth the ancient city of Metropolis, located in İzmir's Torbalı district, have uncovered archaeologically significant structures and artifacts.

Metropolis -- dating back to 725 B.C. -- gets its name from the temple of mother goddess Meter Gallesia found in the area and thus means "the city of the mother goddess”.

Sponsored by Philip Morris-Sabancı Holding and the Torbalı Municipality, the excavations at the site are being conducted by an excavation team led by Professor Recep Meriç from Dokuz Eylül University and have so far uncovered an ancient theater -- one of the earliest stone constructions of Anatolia -- a path used by pedestrians, a toilet area, two dwellings and a Roman bath complex, including a bath apparently built for use by outsiders coming to the city.

Excavations this year focus on the ancient city's acropolis, which was built on a hill for strategic and defensive purposes. It is an attractive site to behold with its Roman period architecture.

Metropolis is only Anatolian city with evidence of a temple of Ares:

A number of rectangular stones, columns and epitaphs unearthed during the acropolis excavations indicate that Metropolis was the second settlement in Anatolia after Bodrum to house a temple of Ares -- the Olympian war god and son of Zeus in Greek mythology and Mars, the god of war in Roman mythology.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, excavation head Meriç said this year's excavations focused on the area surrounding the acropolis.

He said two doors are known to be in the acropolis and that the goal is to reveal the relation between these two doors. He added that a number of findings were uncovered related to the temple of Ares.

“Ares temples are rare in Anatolia. One is believed to be in Bodrum although there is no supporting physical evidence. The acropolis in Metropolis houses one Ares temple, with the only difference being we have evidence here. We unearthed a number of rectangular stones with names written on them as well as columns and epitaphs related to an Ares temple that suggest that an Ares temple actually exists in the acropolis. However, we don't yet know its exact location,” he said.

Noting the significance of an Ares temple existing in a relatively small ancient Anatolian city like Metropolis, Meriç said: “The temple of Ares is a rare archaeological find. Ares is a war god. It seems ironic that he would be the patron of a small city like Metropolis, which would have a difficult time waging war. For Metropolis, however, Ares meant something different. Ares was the protective god of the ancient city, not a god who would lead a war.”

Mother goddess caves:

Meriç said only a small portion of the ancient city has so far been uncovered because excavation in Metropolis is in the early stages. He said, “So far we have unearthed a theater, a path built for pedestrians, a Roman bath complex, dwellings located on the hillside and a large bath in the center of the city. We also found 40 caves belonging to the mother goddess.”