Demre

View of Kekova in Demre Antalya Turkey
View of Kekova in Demre Antalya Turkey

Kekova

Kekova is not only known for its beautiful turquoise sea but also its biblical and secret sunken city. Every summer, guests arrive on Gulet tours to look out over the water to see the remains of a once thriving city now entirely underwater with only a few pieces on land to address its presence.
Kekova is a vast area on Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline right near Demre that covers the island of the same name as well as the Kaleköy and Üçağız settlements. Since its inclusion in the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forest’s specially preserved areas beginning in 1990, the region has become quite famous with guests due to its charming natural and cultural beauty. In fact, in the early 20th century, even the Italians were aware of Kekova’s worth when they worked for it; they finally lost it to the Turks after the 1932 Convention between Italy and Turkey.
On the northern side of the island of Kekova, you’ll come over the sunken ruins of Dolchiste, an early Lycian settlement, which was partly passed by the sea due to an earthquake that happened during the 2nd century. Even though Dolchiste was restored and recovered new life during the Byzantine era, the threat of Arabs in the region began its citizens to leave their town.

Only available by water, Gulet tours arrive here regularly from Demre, another famous seaside town where nature still rules unspoiled. Even though swimming is prohibited around the sunken ruins, looking upon them and shooting some photos are quite the event.

View of Myra in Demre Antalya Turkey
View of Myra in Demre Antalya Turkey

Myra

If you only have time to see one striking labyrinth of Lycian rock tombs, choose the famous remains of ancient Myra. Positioned about 2km inland from Demre’s main square, they are amongst the finest in Lycia. There’s a lively Roman theatre here, which covers several theatrical masks carved on stones lying in the nearby area. The so-called Painted Tomb near the river necropolis describes a man and his family in relief both inside and out.
Alakent Caddesi leads 2km north from the square (3km from the highway) to the tombs; it’s a 20-minute walk or ₺10 taxi ride from downtown and 15 minutes drive from Villa Noble.

Inside view from St. Nicholas Church in Demre, Turkey
Inside view from St. Nicholas Church in Demre, Turkey

Church of St Nicholas

It may not be vast like Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, or brilliant with mosaics like İstanbul’s Chora Church (Kariye Museum), but Demre’s Church of St Nicholas, where the eponymous saint was placed upon his death in AD 343, is nevertheless a star attraction for pilgrims and tourists alike. Although St Nicholas is no longer in situ (Italian merchants smashed open the sarcophagus in 1087 and probably carted his bones to Bari), the church highlights impressive Byzantine frescoes and mosaic floors.
The church was made a basilica when it was rebuilt in 1043. Later renovations in 1862 were sponsored by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia (St Nicholas is the patron saint of Russia) and became the church by forming a vaulted ceiling and a belfry. More recent work by Turkish archaeologists is aiming to protect it from degeneration.

There are a couple of statues of the saint – one of them the height of kitsch as Santa Claus – in the park in front of the church. Souvenir shops opposite the church sell faux icons to Russian tourists; St Nick’s feast day (6 December) is a huge event here.
It is 10 minutes drive from Villa Noble.

A view of the river at Andriake
A view of the river at Andriake

Andriake

About 5km southwest of Demre’s center is the seafront establishment of Çayağzı, 1 km to Villa Noble called Andriake by the Romans at a time when it was an essential entrepôt for direction on the sea route between the eastern Mediterranean and Rome.

The ruins of ancient Andriake are spread over a wide area to the north and south of the access road surrounding Çayağzı. The vast storehouse built by Hadrian and completed in AD 139 lies in the southern section. Much of the land is marshland so the ruins (including the barn) can be challenging to reach in wet weather. In 2009 the ruins of the first synagogue found in ancient Lycia were opened here.

Çayağzı’s final call to fame is as the disembarkation (or embarkation) point of the famous four-day blue yacht voyages to/from Fethiye. Dolmuşes run sporadically out to Çayağzı from Demre; your best bet is probably a taxi, or we can provide transfer for you.

Arycanda in Demre, Turkey
Arycanda in Demre, Turkey

Arycanda

Arycanda (Arykanda) is a single Lycian city, built in five large terraces rising a mountain slope and was known for having the most fun and entertainment-loving (and debt-ridden) residents. The town faces a beautiful valley, and its view makes it one of the most dramatic sites in Lycia.

It is placed near the small settlement of Aykiriçay, on the Elmali-Finike road.

Arycanda is known to be one of the oldest Lycian sites – its name ends with -anda, characteristic of its Anatolian origin dating back as far as the second millennium BC. Some of the prime coins of Lycia (5th c. BC was also found here during a current digging; the site is under constant excavation.

Gods and goddesses known to have been worshipped here are: Apollo, Ares, Artemis (in the forms of Kombike, Lagbene, Tharsenike and Eleuthera), Athena, Kakasbos (an Anatolian horseman-deity), Hera, Helios, Mithras, Tyche, Asklepios, Hygeia, Hercules, Hermes, Aphrodite, Somondeus (a mountain god), and Nemesis.

Arycanda lasted through Byzantine times, until the 9th century when the village moved to a new site south of the new road.

Diggings and renovation work in recent years have resulted in unearthing a beautiful city, well-organized with the look of an developmental model.

Fortunately for us, whether due to landslides, earthquakes or the challenge for robbers in getting matter down to the sea (there were sites nearer to the sea for that), Arycanda has not lost much of its large-scale contents except for the columns of the agora. Also, with no large village nearby in later years, many things have been spared the lime-kilns, at least none have been found on site yet. Since landslips have protected much of the site, the limestone of Arycanda’s buildings looks quite fresh.