By: Melih Uslu
The 509 km long Lycia Way which connects the most beautiful coasts, plateaus and mountain villages of the Mediterranean, is like a network which opens up into the dazzling back gardens of Antalya.
Teke peninsula is undoubtedly the most exiting section of the Lycia Way, which starts from Faralya village in Fethiye and ends at Antalya. English explorer Cate Clow is the master mind behind the first flagged trekking route of international importance, which connects 23 cities of the Lycian civilisation, known in antique sources as the “country of light”, and which were established in the South western parts of Anatolia. Along the path that extends into Antalya via Patara, Kalkan, Kaş, Olympos and Tekirova, it is possible to stay in tents, village boarding houses or comfortable hotels, as preferred. The 3 thousand metres long coast line of Lycia, lying at the skirts of the Taurus Mountains, is cooled by mountain breeze, even at the peak of the summer heat. The ecological farms established on the fertile lands at river mouths are among the new trends in tourism. If having a look at Antalya through the window frame of Lycia seems interesting to you, let’s follow the flags together.
On the deserted peaks of the Taurus
The cool waters of the Eşen River that flows from the Taurus Mountains to Kalkan, point at the Lycian Way. The three pearls of Lycia, Ksanthos, Letoon and Patara ornament the delta where the river flows into the Mediterranean. The music arriving from a distant shepherd’s flute and the rustlings of the turtles are the sounds of isolation. The first surprise of Kalkan is Patara beach, which is the longest beach in Turkey, with a length of 18 kilometres. On this beach where caretta carettas live, the ruins of the first known lighthouse in history have recently been excavated. Kaputaş, on the point where a narrow canyon in Kalkan opens up to the sea, is among the most beautiful beaches in Turkey. Most of the 18 cities between Kaş and Demre, which the Lycian Way connects, are on wild and inaccessible places. Kaş, which is the most important diving centre in Southern Turkey, is located on the edge of an unmatchable peninsula, extending out into the Mediterranean. With its white- washed houses, narrow streets, clean beaches and elegant restaurants, cafes and bars, Kaş is like the new Bodrum of the Mediterranean. The graves carved into the rocks on the eastern and western slopes of Kaş, the tomb at Uzunçarşı (Long market), the antique theatre in Çukurbağ peninsula and the pebble mosaic courtyard of Yeni Cami, are distinctive features of Lycia. The track that extends from Kaş to the plateaus of the Taurus are among the most difficult and exciting sections of the Lycian Way. The mountain track that follows the Kalkan - Bezirgân – Akçay route and along which one could hike for days through the cloud-covered forest hills, ends at Elmalı.
Civilisation in water
The path that passes through the knife edge peaks of the Taurus, Yörük villages that have never seen concrete, surrounded by mint and thyme fields, waterfalls and mountain lakes, a climb up to 2 thousand metres: Kılıçlı Köyü is the most exciting stop-over point of the 30 kilometres long coastal path which stretches from Kaş to Üçağız. This village, which overlooks Kekova Island, is located right in the middle of four Lycian cities, namely Theimeiussa, Aperlai, Isında and Kyaneai. The coasts of Üçağız, which is a small fishermen’s village on the skirts of Kılıçlı, are ornamented with monks’ cells carved into giant rocks, one- man islands and the Lycian tombs that remain in the middle of the sea, looking like treasure chests. The most intriguing corner of Üçağız, where pleasant fish restaurants line up along its marina, is Simena. The 2.5 hours long hiking path extending from Üçağız to Simena is a beautiful route passing through carob woods. Simena, which is the only village in western Turkey without an access road, promises an untouched view of the Mediterranean. Its citadel is inherited from the Knights of Rhodes. The coast line of Kekova Island, just across the water, is full of remains from an ancient settlement known as the Sunken City.
Santa Claus’ house?Demre, the neighbouring village to Üçağız, is the village of Saint Nicholas, known as Santa Claus. The church in which Santa Claus served as a bishop in the 3rd century is now serving tourism as a museum. The thousand year murals that decorate the walls of this church are the richest examples of pictures that describe Father Christmas’ life. Every year, on December 6th, which is the date the Saint passed away in this church, a ceremony is held with thousands of participants from different countries. Myra, the most magnificent city near Demre, is quite impressive with its ancient theatre that has remained almost undisturbed, and the graves carved into the rocks, right behind the theatre. The Sura Acropolis that rises on top of a rocky hill at the end of Demre valley was built as a centre of prophecy. The Lycian Way, after Demre, extends to the eastern edge of Teke Peninsula. The walk that continues along a combination of sea and mountains continues into Adrasan, 60 kilometres south of Antalya. Adrasan, known also as Çavuşköy, is a touristic village a few kilometres inland from the coast, its bay surrounded by rocky hills and a sandy beach, and with several small hotels. Following the path from the village towards the peninsula to the south, a lighthouse guarding the loneliness, is reached. Gelidonya lighthouse is 227 metres above sea level and has an impressive panoramic view, encircling five islands.
In the arms of history
Olympos, situated 8 kilometres north of Adrasan, is one of the holy establishments of Lycia. Built on the skirts of the 2366 metres high Tahtalı Mountain, it is separated by a shallow river bed from a touristic Mediterranean village, called Çıralı. Olympos is a real Mediterranean dream with its mysterious remnants scattered in the woods, wooden huts which are used as lodgings, situated on top of the trees, humble fish restaurants, its burning stone, Yanartaş, that has been burning for hundreds of years without going out, and its three km-long clean beaches. Phaselis, 22 kilometres North of Olympos, is an extraordinary Lycian city that brings together three separate harbours. 11 kilometres north of Phaselis, Kemer’s attractions are 5 star holiday villages, a Dolphinarium, and Ayışığı park where a traditional Yörük way of living is simulated. As one approaches the Antalya city centre from Kemer, which is 42 kilometres away from Antalya, touristic establishments are seen everywhere.
Being the locomotive of regional tourism and an important centre of tourism in Turkey, Antalya is an ideal choice for crowning the Lycian Way with an unforgettable finale. Its undisturbed historical structure, old houses restored and converted into restaurants and bars, Hadrianus gate and Yivli and Kesik minarets and marina, Kaleiçi will drag us from the present into the beautiful harbour city of yesteryears, Adalya. Lara beach, famous for its cliffs that are specific to the region, is the correct address for fish and grilled meats. In order to enrich the Lycian Way with the classical beauties of the Antalya, the Manavgat – Side – Alanya route is waiting for you. Köprülü Canyon with its 12 km-long rafting course and natural beauties, Aspendos antique theatre, Konyaaltı beach, Antalya museum, Perge, and Saklıkent skiing centre are the other treasures of the district. Indeed, there are very, very many treasures in the region. What it needs is for you to decide to experience the illuminated Way of Lycia.
LYCIA’S MYSTERIOUS COASTS BY CANOE
You can add excitement to your Lycian Way tour with canoe tours starting from Kaş. In these tours, which can also include accommodation, it is possible to explore everything from the most isolated sea caves to the most remote antique tracks.
HOW TO GET THERE
AIn order to take the Lycian way from the Fethiye direction, you can fly to Dalaman, or you can fly to Antalya to start from the Olympos direction.
Turkish Airlines has flies rond trip to Dalaman and Antalya from Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir.
Tel: +90 0212 444 2 538