I am finally getting back to finishing my travelogue of my Lycian trip….
We are now at the most eastern and southern part of our journey into Lycia; ancient Sura. In ages past the river flowed through the valley and the seaport was on the edge of the Temple to Apollo. Now it is marshland, but the temple remains along with the ruins of a Byzantium Basilica. The temple was famous for its “fish oracle” – yes just like Paul the Octopus (Soccer World Cup 2010) – people would ask a question and then throw food to the fish, and the answer was favourable (or not) depending on how the fish liked the food..
Sura was controlled by the greater ancient city of Myra, an important Roman site, but later was more renowned as an early Christian site; where St. Nicholas (of Sinterklaas and Santa Claus fame) was Bishop.
From Sura, we headed off back onto the Lycian Way to visit a Greek Lycian village, Istlada, almost reclaimed by the environment. Although they were of Greek origin, they adopted the practices of their neighbours and build similar tomb houses.
In the morning we sailed back west towards Üçağız and around Kekova Island. In the early morning light we could clearly see the ancient sunken harbour city.
After we moored, we headed inland again to visit the mountain-top city of Kyaenai, another important city in the Lycian League. The old Roman road followed the spine of the hills which is now part of the Lycian Way walking path, with magnificent 360 degree views across the valley.
The following day was our longest and most difficult walk of the trip, mainly due to the lack of path maintenance. Often we had to struggled through waist high thistles, flanked by endless prickly bushes and over rocky uneven paths. The rewards were the views! First we had to climb up to another citadel city – Phellos – almost lost now due to the lush overgrowth.
After a very long climb down, we were rewarded with beers and a picturesque bus ride back to our boat.