Turkey: Walking & Cruising the Lycian Shore – part 2

dsc06473It’s time I returned to my travelogue of the Turkish Lycian Shore…..
We continued our exploring by travelling up the Xanthus valley from our mooring in Kalkan to ancient Pinara.  In the Lycian Federation, Pinara was one of six major cities with the most voting power, hence a dominant force in Lycia.  Pinara is situated on a high plateau with strategic views across the valley and towards the spectacular White Mountain range. These White Mountains look over the White Sea,  otherwise known as the Mediterranean sea… An interesting note; the Black Sea is on the north-eastern side (opposite) side of Turkey..

Harbour @ Kalkan


Climbing up to the plateau we saw the first of many of the ‘house tombs’ carved into the hillside rocks. These house tombs and the earlier ‘house style sarcophagi’ we soon learnt were characteristic of the Lycian region.  What set Pinara apart was the massive monolith mountain necropolis riddled with cave tombs. It towered well above the plateau city and was an amazing feat of construction by its inhabitants as it is still not easily accessible today.

Mountain cave tombs @ Pinara
Sarcophagi @Pinara
View of the theatre with the White Mountains in the distance.

The following day was the first of our “long” walking days – and this was the rockiest, but not the most prickliest, that was still to come…. However, on this day we got to experience the wild parts of Lycia, on a path barely marked out through a terrain of obelisk-like limestone rocks, sprinkled with lovely sea-squills and the occasional olive tree and  bee-hives.

Wooden storage hut in the same style as a Lycian Tomb House.

We were dropped off in a village in the valley and then climbed to the ancient site of Apollonia.  It was originally a Lycian city, but as in most of the region, the Greeks arrived, followed by the Romans, which later became the Byzantium era.

Tomb with typical damage done by ‘tomb robbers’ with the view down the valley
Ancient cistern next to tower and house tombs
Dry city wall – precision cut!
Beehives amongst the sea-squills
Sea-squill flowers growing wild amongst the prickly bushes and rocky path.
Goats performing an important function – eating all the prickly bushes!

We eventually wound our way down to the remains of the town of Aperlai. This Lycian city was important during both the Hellenistic and Roman periods, for the purple colour extracted from the sea-snails in the region. The colour purple was more costly than gold! The many earthquakes over the centuries though has caused the city to fall into the sea, evidenced by sarcophagi now under water.


Following a lovely morning swim in a local bay, we headed further east, past Kekova Island to Üçağız (ooch-eye-iz) a small fishing village, to visit the castle at Kaleköy. These three sites were the ancient towns of Simena (Kekova), Teimussa (Üçağız) and Tersane.    The bay was the site of an ancient shipyard and is now a Special Protected Area. 

Morning view from my cabin porthole!



The village of Üçağız is protected from development, so the villagers live life much as they have for hundreds of years, though with a little tourism added to their revenue.

Carob bean preparation



Sarcophagi on the ridge near the the Castle
Former Castle of the Knights of Rhodes (St. John)
Goats keeping a strategic lookout!
Sunset over the bay

The following day we headed off to Sura, the birthplace of St. Nicholas / Sinterklaas / Santa Claus… which I’ll leave to the next instalment.






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