It is easy to forget national boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean are relatively recent. The Empires of Ancient Times were often vast with certainly the Roman and Greek stretching was beyond what is today’s Italy and Greece. The Turkish Republic formed in 1923 covers a huge area that has seen many peoples over the years. One of the relatively small civilisations that existed in what is now South West Turkey was the Lycians whose rock tombs along this coastline are just a single reminder of the past. The Lycians pre-dated Christ and their history is interwoven with the Persians, Greeks and Romans.
What the Lycians would have made of the popularity of their old territory as a major tourist destination these days no one knows. There is two international airports servicing the region, Antalya with direct flights all year round and Dalaman to the west that welcomes direct regional flights from all over Europe from spring right until winter returns.
Kekova Island Turkeyis close to the modern day Turkish town of Demre which is equidistant between the coastal towns of Kas to the west and Finike to the east. Demre was the site of the ancient Lycian city of Myra, a member of the Lycian League in the centuries BC. It even minted its own coins in the 1st Century BC and actually fell to the Romans in 78 BC when Julius Caesar was among the company.
It was two centuries later when an earthquake brought the destruction that resulted in the sunken city in the north of the Island. It is a protected area and although it can be viewed boats are not allowed to anchor over it. Those with their own boat do however have the freedom to stay overnight in the region as a whole, with temperatures even in the middle of the night during summer months extremely warm.
There are few finer views over the sea than that from Simena Castle but you will have a climb to get there. It is worth it. The castle is in Kalekoy (literally Castle Village in Turkish.) Kalekoy is on the coast facing Kekova Island. The castle is actually a Byzantine structure though the settlement under its Lycian name, Simena dates back to the time of those peoples.
The Lycians built tombs that can be found throughout the region. They often sit on high, impressive carvings regularly found in coastal regions. This region is limestone and easy to carve though over the centuries the stone has obviously weathered. Whereas the Greeks were later to build their tombs within settlements, the Lycians it seems believed that winged creatures would subsequently carry the souls of the dead away to the afterlife and hence built them away from the heart of the community.
Lycian sarcophagi are large free standing tombs that are also a feature of the region. For example those who begin their cruise in the central town of Fethiye in the west can actually see them in the middle of a road leading from the town to a deserted Greek village, Kayakoy.
So much of the history of Lycia is now housed in museums across the world but that does not detract from those wanting to sail these seas and just to imagine how it used to be. There are no huge crowds other than in the major towns and those with their own craft can visit, have a meal and a drink then sail off to the solitude again.
There is plenty of choice when it comes to cruising these waters. Many who try this type of holiday a first time return time and again, opting for a different itinerary each time. There is a coastline to see and researchers that see page one of the suggestions should look through every page before making a decision. After all, surely this is fun in the middle of winter when it is cold and wet outside and summer seems so far away? Companies with websites that are interactive will respond to enquiries and questions and if you book then you can be certain that sophisticated payment gateways will ensure absolute security and your confirmation will be immediate.