Destination Guide to Turkey

The Regions

Cartoonish-map-of-Turkey

Turkey is a truly stunning and fascinating country and it would be a shame to leave having only enjoyed the comfort and hospitality of your property. We take great pride in offering a knowledgeable and personalised service to all our guests and have therefore provided a glimpse of some of the local attractions in the regions below. The list is certainly not exhaustive – for more detailed advice on where to explore and what to see, please speak to your host.

The Kalkan Region

AWL_TK09188.jpgThe charming village of Kalkan has a rich cultural heritage. Its recent history has seen many changes, precipitated in the most part by the arrival of tourism. Formerly a Greek village called Kalamaki, Kalkan was settled between 150 and 200 years ago by people of both Turkish and Greek origin. During the 19th Century, it served as a port for the surrounding economy, consisting mainly of olive farming and fishing.

In 1921, the new Turkish Republic and Greece embarked on a population exchange as a consequence of the Turkish War of Independence. Most of the Greeks living in Kalkan migrated to the nearby Greek island of Meis.

Today Kalkan’s Greek ancestry can be seen in the buildings of the old village with their wooden balconies jutting out above the cobbled streets below. Take a look above you for the carved wood inscriptions giving a hint to the history of the building.

More recent years have seen Kalkan being the choice of residence for a lot of people wanting to live abroad.

Kaş

Between Kalkan and KasThe more bohemian town of Kaş (formally called Habesos or Habesa in Lycian times, and later given the name of Antiphellos). If you are staying in Kalkan it is a 30 minute drive away and the stunning coastal road snakes its way along the edge of the rocky coastline providing truly spectacular views out to sea.

Kaş is situated in a sweeping curved bay (the name Kaş translates as ‘curved) and the modern town that we see today is built on top of an ancient Lycian site, with the ruins of Antiphellos still scattered around the town. Wandering the winding streets, you may stumble upon the ancient sarcophagus.

Out of town, 500 metres along from the harbour on the Hastane Caddesi Road, sits a small, well-preserved Hellenistic amphitheatre. Situated behind the amphitheatre on the top of a hill is a Doric tomb.

Local Villages

Exploring up into the mountains reveals the wild beauty of this region. The Taurus Mountains are mainly composed of limestone; they are covered with the typical Mediterranean maquis and dotted with wild olive and carob trees at the lower altitudes. The range climbs to a height of up to 3,000 metres.

Many of the villages around Kalkan remain untouched by tourism, with life quietly ambling by at a pace unchanged for centuries. A couple of examples are:

Bezirgan

bezirganEleven kilometres inland lies the beautiful ‘yayla’ (high mountain valley) village of Bezirgan. It is nestled on an ancient lake bed which provides the perfect soil for yielding crops such as grain and grazing pastures for their sheep and goats.

The locals are full of the Turkish hospitality and you can spend time watching the local traditions that are still carried on here, looking at the Lycian tombs that are scattered around the village or just simply drinking a ‘Cay’ at the local tea house and watching the men play their favourite game of backgammon. For somewhere so close, it is a complete contrast to Kalkan.

Islamlar

Situated in a cool green valley adjacent to Kalkan, with its fresh mountain air and thickly forested mountainside dotted with natural springs, it has long been a favoured hideaway of Discerning guests. The village itself has a rambling collection of wonderful old houses, a beautiful mosque and an original water-powered flourmill. It also has a handful of Trout farms, which serve a delicious meal.

Patara

pataraIn ancient times Patara was one of the six principal cities of Lycia and thought to be the birth place of Apollo. Located at the mouth of the Xanthos River it was a sizeable port and therefore very wealthy due to all the passing trade.

Today, much of the ancient city remains undiscovered buried beneath layers of sand. However ongoing excavations have recently uncovered many exciting structures that have remained untouched for centuries beneath the dunes. The most recent of these a lighthouse, thought to be the oldest in the world, dating back almost 2000 years. Although the ruins are not as well-known as nearby cities such as Xanthos and Tlos,

they are well worth a visit – a must to stop off on route to the beach.

Modern day Patara is a shadow of its more glorious past. However the locals are keen to welcome any visitors that choose to stop by and will happily invite you in to one of the many wooden shacks for at least a drink if not a full meal.

Further Afield

Elmali

This town is one of the largest Ottoman towns in the southwest of Turkey and is located in the mountains 45       minutes’ drive from Kalkan and 40 minutes from Kaş. It is famous for its well-preserved wooden houses (some of which date back as far as the 17th century) in which Ottoman Turks, Greeks and Armenians once lived together until the 20th century and the population exchange.

People here live much as they did in the past and old crafts such as blacksmithing and hand-crafting copperware are still practiced today.  A very large mosque complex exists in Elmali dating back to the 16th century with hand-painted tiles rivalling those in Istanbul’s grand mosques.

The Elmali area is rich in archaeology and natural beauty.  Some very significant antiquities including the famous Elmali Treasury has been found in the area and excavations are currently underway at a large mound where artefacts have been found dating back to the 12th century BC.  Alexander the Great once marched through Elamli with his troops in 333 BC on his campaign against the Persian army and the road they used can still be seen today.

It is a perfect retreat in the height of the summer due to the cooler weather at that altitude and is definitely a place worth visiting.

The Green Lake

Set in the Taurus Mountains below Elmali is the Green Lake set 6,500ft above sea level. The lake is said to have sacred healing powers and it has long been a place where people pilgrimage to drink the healing waters. There is a sacred waterfall close to the lake where the water is also considered to be holy having believed to have been given to the people as a gift by the founder of a nearby Dervish monastery.

The local people here live a semi-nomadic lifestyle, having originally migrated from central Asia and live in tents tending their flocks. Their hand-made products can be bought at the lively market in Gömbe which is the village nearest to the lake.

kekovaKekova-Simena

The name ‘Kekova’ stands for the ‘Plain of Thyme’ and is where some of the most beautifully situated ruins on the south coast can be found. The ancient Lycian site of Simena is often referred to as the Kekova-Simena and is situated within the Kekova area which also includes Kekova Island, Kale (Castle) village and Ucagiz (the Three Mouths) village. A lot of the ruins are now submerged beneath translucent waters after a dramatic earthquake in the 2nd century AD.

Once at Kekova it is possible to travel by boat over to the pretty little harbour of Kale and clamber up to the hilltop Byzantine fort built by the Knights of Rhodes which, inside, has the smallest amphitheatre of Lycia.

Across the bay is the residential area of Simena where you will see half the houses submerged and staircases leading down into the water. It has been a specially protected area since 1990 and is definitely a must to visit for anyone staying in the Kalkan and Kaş region.