Destination Guide to Turkey
Discerning Collection Jaunts
Other places of Interest to visit include:
Also known as the “Hidden Valley”, this natural wonder is 18km, making it the longest gorge in Turkey and the second longest in Europe. After April when most of the snow from the Tauras Mountains has melted and made its way through the gorge into the Xanthos River it’s possible to walk up to 4km through the narrow canyon in the icy cold waters making it a cool refuge on a hot summer’s day.
Tlos is the most important, oldest (dating back to 2000BC) and largest settlement of Lycia. It is believed to be the place where the mythicalogical hero Bellerophon and his winged horse, Pegasus, lived.
The site of Tlos is dominated by the acropolis. On the slope up to it there are several Lycian sarcophagi and the king type tomb in the necropolis is dedicated to Bellerophon. The legend goes that punished by the Lycian king Iobates for an improper love affair, Bellerophon was sent to kill the Chimaera, a fire-breathing monster. With the aid of Pegasus, a gift from Athena, Bellerophon slew the monster from the air and then married the king’s daughter. From their offspring came the later rulers of Lycia. Today the Chimaera continues to exist as a perpetually-burning fire in eastern Lycia near Olympos. Another carving of a lion or leopard is also seen inside the tomb.
Tlos once had the tile of ‘the very brilliant metropolis of the Lycian nation’ under the Roman Empire and was inhabited by the Ottoman Turks making it one the few Lycian cities to take it through the 19th century. The influence of different cultures has resulted in an interesting collection of ruins.
Pinara is one of the least visited sites in the Xanthos area but is thought to have been one of the largest cities and was probably founded due to the over-population of Xanthos.
It is a beautiful and vast site. At the centre of the city sits a high rocky mountain which has tombs scattered all over it. Beneath this lies the ruins of this splendid city.
The theatre is in a very good state leaving little to the imagination. It is said to be the birthplace of Nicholas of Myra who is known today as Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus. Having been ruled by Alexander the Great, Pergamum and the Romans, it gave in to the invading armies in the 9th century when it became uninhabited.
This could be one of the most well-preserved sites in the area. Built upon five large terraces it is quite a unique city. The people of this city were renowned for their love of entertainment and festivities!
Due to the fact that no other city was located near to it and having escaped any damage from earthquakes or landslides much of the large scale features still exist today.
Olympos and Cirali
This National park attracts tourists not only for its history but also for its outstanding natural beauty. It is a popular place with backpackers because of its tree-house style accommodation that it has become famous for and offers a vast array of outdoor activities such as trekking. Several parts of the Lycian way can be walked and are clearly signposted in red and white. The area is also the last nesting place of the Loggerhead or Caretta Caretta Turtle and is supported by the WWF.
Near to the village of Olympos is Cirali which hosts the site of the eternal flames of the Chimera known as the Yunar tas (burning stone) in Turkish. The flames are sourced by natural gases, mainly Methane. It’s a 1km walk to the top but there are seats along the way to stop and have a break and take in the surrounding area. It is thought to have had an influence on the mythological tale of the Chimera, the fire-breathing monster, part lion, goat and snake that was slain by Bellerophon. There is also a stunning 3km sandy beach at Cirali.
The city of Ephesus was once the ancient trade centre of the world and is home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. Today only one column can be seen of this wonder but it is estimated that only 15% of the site has been excavated so far but what you can see allows you to easily imagine the splendour of the original city.
The Library of Celcus which has been reconstructed with original pieces. Thought to have been built ca AD 125 and could host 12,000 scholars. The building faces east so that the reading rooms could make the most of the morning sun.
Other sites of note are St Johns Basilica, the colonnaded walkway and the theatre. You can also see the original brothel!
Ephesus is also believed to be the city of the where the Seven Sleepers. Legend has it that during the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Decius, seven young men were accused of believing in Christianity. They were asked to change their beliefs but instead gave up all their belongings to the poor and went up into the mountains to pray in one of the caves. Decius then had the mouth of the cave sealed whilst they were still in there. Decades later a landowner opened the cave to use it as a cattle pen and found the seven men who awoke thinking they had only been asleep a day. They are considered Saints among Christians and Muslims