Lycian Wonders Sights

Ephesus

Ephesus itself is one of the best-preserved and most visited of Turkey’s ancient cities. It’s marble streets and monuments have been extensively excavated and restored by the archaeologists, and with only a little imagination it is easy to transport yourself to Roman times.
 
The city was always indissolubly linked with the Anatolian fertility goddess Cybele, who became the Greek goddess Artemis and Roman Diana. The Temple of Artemis was three times the size of Athens Parthenon and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Today, it’s hard to imagine its glorious past from the only single column left at site and often flooded foundations. The acts of the Apostles record that St Paul came to Ephesus in the 1st century AD and preached that the silver images of the Artemis were not divine. Plus he provoked a riot among the local silversmiths by saying this: ‘Handmade God can’t be the true God.’
 
Ephesus itself was founded around the 10th century BC by the Ionian Greeks from Samos, and was ruled in turn by the Lydians, Persians, the Attalid kings of Pergamum and finally the Romans, under whom the city became capital of Asia Minor with 240,000 inhabitants. It’s greatness was linked to its port and its Artemis Temple. When the harbor began to silt up the city eventually declined, and around the 6th century AD it was probably deserted. Most of what we see today belongs to the imperial Roman period.
 
The scale of the site is awesome. With its well-defined streets, a host of public and private buildings, details such as masonry inscribed in Latin and Greek, and with Christian crosses and chariot ruts in the thoroughfares, few places in the world can evoke, more effectively, the feel of a great metropolis 2,000 years ago.

Izmir

Know to the Greeks as Smyrna, and to the Turks as ‘Guzel Izmir’ (Beautiful Izmir), Turkey’s third-largest city sprawls around the head of the finest natural harbor on the Aegean coast. The city was founded in the 3rd millennium BC on the north shore of the bay, and reached her peak during the 10th century BC, when it was one of the most important cities in the Ionian Federation. The famous poet Homer was born Smyrna during this early period. After the Lydian conquest of the 6th century BC, the city lost its importance as the leading port in the Aegean Sea, but was refounded by Alexander the Great on the slopes of Mount Pagus, now KadifeKale. Following centuries, under the Greeks and Romans it became one of the principal port cities of Mediterranean trade.
 
When the Ottoman Turks took control in the 15th century, Izmir grew wealthy as a merchant city, handling Smyrna figs and Turkish tobacco from the farms of the hinterland, and allowing the establishments of European trading colonies. It prospered as a Levantine port until the close of the Greco-Turkish War in 1922, when it was almost completely destroyed by fire. Rebuilt around the site of Alexander’s hilltop site, it’s once again a bustling port and industrial city, but almost no trace remains of its former glory. These sights are the Highlights of modern Izmir: the Clock Tower, the tiny historical Konak Mosque, the Archeological Museum, the ancient Roman Agora, and the imposing medieval fortress of KadifeKale on the Mount Pagus.

Priene – Miletus – Didyma

Priene occupies a stunning location on pine-scented terraces below the nearby hilltop Acropolis, right at the edge of the Soke plain. This dreamy, intimate ancient site bears the considerable remains of an industrious Greek settlement whose population probably never grew beyond 60,000. Until the silting up of the Meander River it was an active port city. The streets are laid out interestingly on a grid pattern; back then it was the model city during the construction of the ancient Athens at one time. Explore the Temple of Athena, noticeable for many standing ionic columns and plenty of the column drums lying around such as discarded stone clogs, and also look for the typical earlier Greek theater, with its amazing marble thrones for the important town rulers round the stage.
 
Until the 5th century BC, ancient Miletus was the greatest maritime leading power of the entire regional developing cities back then. It was built right on the the Aegean coast, but now is landlocked by the River Meander’s silts under a sea of famous Soke’s cotton, with its old harbor frequently turning into frogs and terrapins filled marshes. The ancient remains are mainly from its imperial Roman years; definitely the most impressing is the Graeco-Roman theater, which is held up to 16,000 spectators and whose vaulted passages are superbly preserved. It’s hilltop Byzantine fortress attached on behind offer a bird’s eye view of the scattered site.
 
Didyma contains just one monument at the present. An oracle-temple to Apollo of massive proportions, even in ruins it overwhelms the surrounding modern village size. During the Persian invasion, the most of it was destroyed and later a replacement of the temple was gradually reconstructed from Alexander’s time into Roman period, but was never completed due to its massive size. In the site, several columns standing to their full height and the scattered huge marble stumps convey its earlier size. People would travel far corners of the ancient world to seek advices and solutions for their sufferings from the temple’s sacred oracle which is located at its heart. It was arranged by the pagan priestess after inhaling vapors from the underneath temple sacred creek, from the well in the high walled inner courtyard at the backside, reached via covered ceremonial marble passages.

Bodrum

Bodrum is Turkey’s most attractive and westernized bid resort town. Whitewashed buildings with bougainvillea coat the hillsides behind the several horseshoe shaped bays separated by a grand medieval fortress. It’s a yachting paradise par excellence, with a spider’s web of the masts of a thousand gullets rising above the marina. At mid-morning hundreds of boats’ decks are hidden under sunbathers waiting for trips along the Aegean coast. By night, the town transforms into a hedonistic playground, its so many narrow back streets crammed with aplenty bars pulsating to the latest clubs’ sounds. This resort town clings tentatively to its very bohemian picture with some vaguely arty shops, but now package vacationers on organized club crawls more accurately set the tone. Everyone visits Halikarnas disco club – a stunning outdoor dancing nightclub decked out with classical columns and an modern amphitheater over the sea.
 
Bodrum’s earlier name is Halicarnassus, capital of ancient Caria, a strongly independent-minded region stretching east to include Marmaris which was only Hellenized in Alexander the Great’s time after the Persians. The Father of History, Herodotus was born in Bodrum. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum’s remains are here, and was built by his sister-wife for him. Mausolus was the most famous and powerful ruler back in the times. His Mausoleum dates back to 355BC.
 
The toppled mausoleum functioned as a stone quarry for the Crusader Knights of the St John to build the 15th-century Fortress of St Peter. Within the double curtain walls are separate towers for the different knights from France, Germany, Italy and England, who carved their army coats of arms in the stone walls. Many of the rooms and towers houses mini archeological museums. Worth visiting is the dramatic Carian Princess Ada’s exhibition: She was the sister of Mausolus and has been revivified from her bones and being displayed with her personal golden ornaments from her tomb. The other exciting exhibition which must be seen is the 11th century dated Glass Wreck and its restored old Gullet.

Labraunda

Labraunda’s most important time was 4th century B.C. Especially the years when Persians and Mausolus ruled Caria. Before the Hekatomnid Kingdom, the sanctuary was in the state of a local cult area consisting of an archaic temple and Sycamore Grove. The Mausolus had at first built retaining walls for new and enlarged terraces and a stone-paved road up to Mylasa. He later built a stoa and an andron building for feasts as well. His successor, Idrieus built the new Zeus Temple and the oikoi building behind it, a second andron building, the southern Propylon, and the Doric building. Many structures seen in Labraunda today date from Hellenistic periods. The Hecatomnids had this splendid landscapes and its mystical settings into a cult and pilgrimage sites for the Zeus Labraundos. Zeus Labraundos is thought to have a mystical deity. On the Hecatomnids coins, Zeus is often depicted carrying sceptre in his hand and labrys on his shoulder. Thus, it offers a strong picture. Thousands of Carian people should have been attending this annual sacred festivities held in the honor of Zeus Labraundos. The participants reached Labraunda via the Sacred Way and made offerings in the honor of Zeus. According to legend, the Sky God threw his labrys and cut this hillside into two halves. As a result, the source of fresh spring water appeared in the Rock still gives life to Labraunda site. On the ancient site, there are many 12m wide stone stairs, they must have used as the theater settings to revive the characters of Zeus Labraundos during annual ritual dramas.

Perge – Aspendos – Side

Busy Antalya, 50 km east of Phaselis, was one of the major cities of ancient Pamphylia, settled more than a thousand years before the Christian era by Greek refugees fleeing from the sack of Troy. Antalya and its now-ruined, neighboring Pamphylian cities of Perge, Aspendos, and Side then passed through the hands of the Persians and Alexander the Great before becoming a sleepy backwater of the Roman Empire.
 
What will strike you first about Antalya is not its past but its heady involvement with the here and now. Turkey’s fastest growing city is spreading in pell mell fashion over a plateau beneath the Taurus mountain range. However, it’s Kaleici, the old town surrounding the harbor, that will be of most interest to visitors.
 
The Antalya Museum is at the western edge of the central city center and houses an outstanding collection of archeological artifacts. Many of the holdings are from the ruins at nearby Perge and range from a game board to statuary to a pantheon, reassembled here in its entirety. Other curiosities of local origin include Lycian coins from the seventh century B.C., some of the first coinage to ever be minted, and bones said to be those of Saint Nicholas, (Santa Claus). More skeletal remains (of a prehistoric man), recline poetically in a broken funeral urn.

Dalyan – Caunos – Istuzu

Dalyan is the select little riverside town with the mud baths, Lycian rock tombs and Kaunos ancient city’s remains. It’s very genuinely a relaxing resort town. Caunos was an important Carian city in the 4th century BC. Kaunos is the border line between Caria and Lycia. Today’s Caunos’ Byzantine basilica, her massive ruins of the Roman baths and its ancient theater are awaiting for the discovery. Dalyan’s famous Istuzu sandy beach is the natural breeding habitat grounds for the loggerhead turtles which come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand.

Patara – Kekova – Myra

Patara was the capital city of the Lycian League. It’s referred as Patar in the Hittite inscriptions of 13th century BC. It’s well preserved and survived ancient city to present times because of being only reachable from the sea in the Xanthos Valley. The city has a great significance for earlier Christianity. Saint Nicholas known as Santa Claus was born here in the 4th century AD. Also thought that St Paul took the boat from Patara to Rome. Back in the Roman period, Patara was a famous port city for the grains shipment from interior Anatolia to the imperial Rome. During the Seleukos kingdom in the 2nd century BC, Patara was accepted as the capital of all Lycia. In the 1st century AD, along with Pamphylian region, Patara became a province of Roman Empire. It had a great reputation for being prophecy center of Apollo after Rome and later became very important Christian center which sent a delegate who was called Eudemos as the Bishop of Patara for the First Nicaea Christian Council led by Emperor Constantine the Great in 325. Top monumental buildings in Patara are the huge Granarium which was built by Emperor Hadrian and his wife, Sabina, and the Lycian League Parliament building, where It hosted many meetings as a capital city for Lycian delegates. Plus its ancient amphitheater worths to be visited, since it’s very well preserved.
 
The most popular destination in the Lycian coast line is Kekova Island. Nearby at Simena, there are many stone cottages intermingled with Lycian and Roman sarcophagi nestling below a hilltop medieval small castle. By a glass bottomed boat from Kale to Kekova Island, it allows you view the submerged the ancient wall remains, stone stairways, and the harbor mole of a sunken city at the Kekova’s rocky beaches.
 
In ancient Myra, the best lasting buildings are the Father Christmas’ church and the Lycian rock-cut tombs at the adjacent to its Roman theater. Cut very neatly above and next to one another like multi-story blocks of flats, they closely resemble the wooden houses the Lycians lived in, with windows, doors and lintels, some bearing detailed carvings. Alongside, the splendid Roman theater has the unique vaulted passageways underneath the seats and a pair of carved marble made theater masks nearby there.
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