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Along the Coast

December 18, 2022

We managed to drag ourselves away from beach life in Çirali and headed west towards the harbour town of Kaş (pronounced Cash).

Theatre at Myra

However on the way we stopped at Myra ,which is a city founded by the Lycians which became Greek and later Roman, where only a small area has been excavated which features the theatre and some rock tombs cut out of the cliff side.

Rock Cut Tombs at Myra

From Myra we carried on to Kaş which is a town built into the hillside around a harbour and is a busy tourist town with lots of trips to surrounding attractions on offer.

Sunrise at Kaş

We wanted to visit Kaş in order to take a kayaking trip to the sunken city of Batik Sehir on Kekova Island. This was a major service centre for pilgrims and Crusaders heading South to the Holy Lands but a number of earthquakes caused the island to drop drowning much of the city.

We met our guide early in the morning in Kaş and he drove us to the village of Üçağız which was the departure point for the Kayaks.  We paddled out of the harbour and across the strait to the island of Kekova where we stopped to stretch our legs and look at some ruins on the northern end of the island.

Back in the kayak we then paddled down the island exploring the sunken ruins, you are not allowed to land in this area and boats aren’t allowed to stop – fortunately kayaks can linger as they want. After this we paddled back across to the mainland and the tiny village of Kalekoy where there are the ruins of an ancient town called Simena and a crusader fortress.

Village of Simena with Crusader Fortress above

This was our lunch stop where we had a lovely meal of BBQ’d fish, explored the fortress and the tombs of the city and went for a swim. It was then a short paddle back to the harbour at Üçağız.

Simena tombs below the crusader fortress

In all we paddled around 8km and it was a fantastic day out.

Views from Crusader Fortress

The next stop on our route up the coast was Patara. This is the site of Turkey’s longest sand beach but also the site of a large ancient city. The only way to access the beach is to pay for access to the ruins.

Endless sandy beach at Patara

This is another Lycian city. The Lycians date back to the 12th century BC but have a history of being conquered by other empires including the Persians and Alexander the Great. They were however granted independence by the Romans in 168 BC. The Lycian League consisted of 23 independent city states but they are often cited as the first democratic union in history and their council chamber, in Patara, is considered the world’s first parliament.

Theatre (Top) and bouleuteiron at Patara

The centre of the ruins are the 5000 seat theatre and the bouleuteiron (or parliament) although the whole site is massive with many ruins covered by the dunes or half hidden in the brush.

We had booked a hotel on booking.com in Gelemiş the nearest modern village to Patara. However on arriving we couldn’t find it and it wasn’t in the location indicated by the app. Their phone number was also disconnected. We asked a number of shop owners in the village if they knew it and nobody did. We could only come to the conclusion that it didn’t exist! Fortunately, booking.com quickly refunded us after failing to contact the hotel and we managed to walk in to a small hotel and get a good rate.

Our next stop up the coast from Patara was Akyaka  but we had a number of stops to make on the way up.

Theatre at Xanthos

First up was Xanthos, another Lycian city, only 8km North of Patara. Xanthos was once the capital of Lycia and its grandest city. Now not much is left other than the theatre and some pillar tombs in an extensive hillside necropolis.

Pillar Tomb at Xanthos

Next hidden in the hills to the East of the main road was the Lycian city of Tlos. This ancient city is unusual in that it continued to be populated right into the 19th century as a result of its very well guarded position on a rocky outcrop.

Aerial view of Tlos

This site is off the beaten track and there was virtually no one around as we explored the ruins including a large stadium, a theatre and some rock cut tombs under the commanding acropolis.

View from the Baths to Acropolis at Tlos

Near to the very touristy area of Oludeniz, all closed at this time of year but clearly a proper package tour destination, is the abandoned Greek town of Kayakoy.

Buildings in Kayakoy

After the Turkish war of independence in 1923 the League of Nations supervised a population exchange with Greek muslims moving to Turkey and Ottoman christians moving to Greece. There were more christians than muslims moving so a number of towns ended up abandoned, including Kayakoy. Now the rooves are all gone and the town is decaying.

Aerial view of Kayakoy

It had been a long day but we finally arrived at the river mouth town of Akyaka. This small town was clearly out of season but had a really relaxed feel and is a holiday destination for well off Turkish tourists and doesn’t really have an international clientele.

River Mouth at Akyaka
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