Friday, 2 October 2015

© Exploring Saklikent Gorge & The Ancient Lycian City of Patara. ©

After a few months away this year 2015 see us return to Kalkan on the Turquoise Coast of Turkey in September. Fabulous warm weather still prevails with days quite comfortable now allowing windows open letting the breeze to flow inside off the Bay of Kalkan.

This trip we explore the attractions found close to home. The first with a 40 minute drive northward into the Saklikent Gorge. Spotting rows of pomegranate trees being clue you are very close. Off the main highway the turn takes us down a secondary road through the Turkish countryside for another 18km. As the road starts to run alongside a riverbed you know Saklikent is a short distance away.  (*NB: if you see a photo you admire, by all means click on to see an enlarged version to be dragged on to your desktop to keep!)

Cut by water thousands of years ago the hike through the gorge is 4km long and for those fit enough to accept some of the small challenges along the way. Wearing good soled water shoes being the secret the gorge offers vistas beyond comprehension making it one of southern Turkey's main attractions. A good hint is to start in the morning as human traffic within can get busy near lunchtime!

The Canyon is 300 meters deep and 18km long, one of the deepest on the planet. Standing on the floor of the canyon one has to look up vertically to see the rim. Rising winter waters flow so hard within that tourism comes to a halt being too dangerous. Melting snows from the Taurus Mountains contribute to the levels as melting snow water flows into the Mediterranean Sea. After April the tourism season can begin again.

Reaching the end of the 4km hike one finds a small waterfall poring from the creases above. The round trip taking about an hour to complete. Once back outside the casual restaurants found throughout the grounds making lunch and a cool drink very welcome. Relax on a comfortable lounge by the rivers edge or laze by the quiet waters as ducks drift by your table dining on fresh trout is the way to go!

From Saklikent Gorge we return back to the villa and witness yet another stunning sunset from our top-deck overlooking Kalkan Bay. Tomorrow we explore the ancient Lycian City of Patara!

The second day's exploration takes us to the Ancient Lycian City of Patara. Said to have been founded by Patarus, son of Apollo. Known to have received settlers from Crete and became Lycia's primary seaport. The harbour has long filled with sand and debris now barely marsh land.

The city and rest of Lycia surrendered to Alexander The Great in 333BC and subsequently occupied by the Greeks and Romans. The Rhodians occupied the city as a Roman ally and Lycia was granted freedom in 167BC.


In 88BC the city suffered a siege and captured by Brutus and Cassius during their campaign against Mark Antony and Augustus and spared the massacres of nearby Xanthos annexed by the Romans in 43AD.
Just east of the River Xanthus is an amphitheater excavated out of the hillside with a ruined temple next to it. The outer city walls cover an extensive area surrounding, some still bearing visible inscriptions.

The theatre was built by Antoninus Pius with an diameter of 265ft with about thirty rows of seats holding up to about 2500 spectators. Some seating more sophisticated than the flat layers that surround the open stage area below. Maybe for the higher society audience.

Along the front row a higher stone wall was constructed for the protection of the audience from the gladiator fights with wild animals. Inscriptions of Roman carving into the stones still visible.

Excavation still carries on today during the summer months by a team of Turkish archeologists. By 2007 all of the sand had been cleared from the theatre. The excavations revealed the masonry in remarkable condition and columns on the main street partially re-erected.

Excavation also showed the remarkable accuracy of carving the huge stone blocks needed for the cities construction.

On the outskirts of the city the ruins of a Lycian Bath can be found. A sophisticated system of three rooms, offering cold water baths and some with underground heating for Sauna bathing. Near the city centre and its Main Street lies the ruins of the oldest Bath House in Patara,

Standing next to the Bath is a stand of palms possibly The Sacred Palm Grove of Leto. Next to the grove lies a small lake, now nearly filled in with growth but quite possibly the Sacred Lake of Apollo where Leto gave birth to Apollo in the palm grove.
There is no other ancient city where myths and reality coincide with each other!

Overlooking the theatre is The Assembly Hall of the Lycian League. Constructed with a semi-circular wall and well preserved local limestone blocks show the immaculate construction also in the shape of a small theatre with a marble orchestra floor still visible in places protected now under glass.

Surrounding the whole structure is a row of twenty one seats holding up to 1400 people. The centre section reserved for the Governors. The Hall has several periods of construction the first being in the Hellenistic Period being the early part of the 1st Century BC.

The valley lies quiet now and returning to its natural grazing and agricultural landscapes. Each year thousands of visitors visit here to walk through times of long ago.

A short distance away toward the shoreline we find world famous Patara Beach, Turkey's longest beach stretching 18Km! Great swimming and facilities in one centre section available during the season with great Turkish food! A walk in either direction allows one to escape for miles.

A recommended walk to the southern end finds an embankment to climb offering spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea on both sides as well as a full view of Patara!

Enjoy exploring Turkey, a country so diverse you will need several visits to digest everything to see!
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