The area known in antiquity as Lycia occupies part of south west Turkey and is one of the richest areas in cultural remains and natural attractions: snow capped mountains, winding, cliff hugging roads, long beaches and the blue Mediterranean. The first record of the Lycians dates back to the 14th C BC and by the 4th C BC, there were 200,000 inhabitants in the area. The most distinctive features of Lycian architecture are the beautiful tombs carved into the sheer rock cliffs that we included in earlier sections of this website update.
The Lycian Way is Turkey's first walking trail and is a 30-day, 500 Km walk around the coast and mountains of Lycia from Fethiye in the west to Antalya in the east. Though the idea of hiking 500 Km through the mountains to a height of 1500 m sounds inviting, we have explored the region by car and found it every bit as (or even more?) enjoyable. The hike will be on the drawing board for the next trip to Turkey!
We visited several archaeological sites east of Kas: Myra outside of Kale, Arykanda in the mountains north of Finike, and Phaselis outside Antalya, plus many others. Despite the number of sites we have seen over the past month, each one of them has one, or several, things that provide the "Wow factor" for us. At Myra, this was provided by the dozens of beautiful carved masks that were part of the theatre and the Lycian tombs; in Arykanda, aside from its stunning location in the mountains, was the large Roman bath with its bowed windows and massive arches; in Phaselis, the old Roman aqueduct set in the pine forest beside the ocean. Another bonus for us traveling through this area was the number of small fishing villages we found that have been relatively untouched by tourism. These villages are still not as accessible as those on the main road (meaning lots of bumpy, one-lane roads through the mountains) which accounts for their charm. As the invasion moves eastward along this coast, no doubt the small town charm will disappear. For us, the words from the locals, "Camp anywhere you like on the beach. No one will bother you" are music to our ears (and peaceful at night with nothing but the sound of the surf to lull us to sleep)
Aside from the impressive archaeological ruins, Turkey is also full of geological oddities! One of these is the Chimaera that is a cluster of flames that blaze spontaneously from crevices on the rocky slopes of Mount Olympos. The site is the stuff of legends and it is not difficult to see why ancient peoples attributed these extraordinary flames to the breath of a monster! It is best to view the flames in the dark so we parked at the foot of the mountain and climbed up large stone steps for a kilometer in the pitch dark - under a canopy of brilliant stars. It was a very moving experience to arrive on the mountainside to see dozens of fires burning - it looked like people had set bonfires and then got up and left them.