Afkule Monastery…

IMG_6741…An Unknown Monastery…

 

Situated, literally, on a cliff face – a few miles away from Kayakoy – Afkule Monastery (which means “Tower of mercy” or “Tower of hope”) overlooks the Mediterranean sea.

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It’s location is relatively unknown, considering its close proximity to Fethiye and it has an ostentatious position cut into the tall and  prominent cliff face.  On clear days the Greek island of Rhodes can be seen.

To get to the Tower of Hope, you have to go on a short, pretty woodland hike, passing through the sprouting wildflowers and ancient pine trees.

 

 

The Monastery, which was built in the 11th Century by an eccentric Monk was used until the 1920’s.  The monk, called Ayios Elefterios discovered this far-off spot, and decided that it would be a brilliant place to worship God and pray. Soon after finding this location, he began constructing a monastery on a 10 square meter area right beside the steep slopes. It is said, that “Building of the monastery was his way of doing penance to God in utter solitude, and it cost him his whole lifetime”.

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After the First World War though we he monastery became useless because the Greeks who worshipped at the Monastery were sent back to Greece because of the population exchange which occurred in 1923, as part of the Treaty of Laussane.
Nowadays, the Monastery seems to be little known except for the locals, who come for picnics and fires with their whole families.

The ancient Monastery is still standing strong though,  clinging to the steep, high cliff face with steps still cut into the rock.  Perhaps the incredible view and scenic walk are the reasons why the locals who do come enjoy this secluded place.

 

 

You approach the ruins from above and then scramble part of the way down to a wide ledge where you can take in the spectacular views.  Following the track down, you come to the ruins.   The ruins include cisterns , storerooms, cells (Monastery rooms), a wine cellar and possibly a vaulted tomb.  One chapel, which is on the same level as the cells, still has painted frescoes which can still be seen faintly.  The Monastery is located up some steps, which have been cut into the commanding cliff face and are accessible with care.

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From the top of the Monastery, Rhodes can be through the slight mist.  Incredibly, the Monastery has a balcony type structure which you have to climb through a small window to get onto, again, please take care when climbing!

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Inside, frescoes can stil be seen on top of doorways, and even wooden beams are still apparent in the remaining arches.

Afkule Monastery makes for a wonderful weekend picnic place for all the family.  It’s beautiful setting and brilliant walk make it completely worth while and not too much of an energetic hike is required.

 

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To conclude, I’d certainly recommend Afkule Monastery as a brilliant day trip, this weekend, for those who enjoy historic adventures.

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Oenoanda…

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…A Mountain, Not A Hill…

Along the D-350 towards Antalya from the west, a strange landscape appears tucked behind the commanding and formidable mountains.

Ancient Oenoanda lies on a strategic hill, overlooking the untouched valleys and villages of Seki and Incealiler.  Gated in by the surrounding mountains, Oenoanda is tangled in tree’s, shrubbery and history.

Oenoanda is very remote…on a hilltop that is rather inaccessible to be honest.  This however, did not stop the inhabitants from yesteryear building a ten meter wall around their town.   Walking up the secluded ancient site, you can see why it was impossible to attack.  Layers and layers of shrubbery, rocks and trees make the terrain quite impassable.

 

To be honest, I would recommend only those who are good and confident on difficult terrain to attempt this hike, because it can be quite difficult at times and is seriously a hike!

 

The drive to Oenoanda is quite simple.  You basically follow the main highway out of Fethiye and drive towards Antalya along the mountain road.  Upon reaching a sign for Seki, turn right, but upon reaching the village the drive gets very tricky because you have to drive through all of the small, dirt tracks which eventually peter out into nothing and the road/track literally ends…..

The village is a very silent place compared to the bustling streets of Fethiye. When we drove through, a man was staring at us – for a rather long time – but we ignored him, in a UK registered car, we are used to it….more about that later…….

In Oenoanda, there is an amphitheater, agora, basilica, and an unknown, unrecognised arched building.

Most of these date back to the 2nd century BC, when the site was under roman rule.  What makes the site renowned amongst archeologicaists and historians alike is its link to Diogenes of Oenoanda.  We know very little of Diogenes. He was thought to have been born in the second half of the first century, and was thought to be rich and politically influential, though as a good Epicurean, he never became involved in politics. What we do understand is that before he died, he wanted to pass down information and “stuff” down through the generations, so he wrote “stuff” on large rocks, which eventually became a wall,of eighty metres long by four metres high which surrounded this town.

 

 

After we explored the site we started the descent.  It was alarming to start with because a kangol had appeared from nowhere and sat himself, barking loudly and fiercely, on the ” path” which we needed to take downwards there were no human owners anywhere to be seen, and I actually think the Kangol – let’s call him Fred- was far more afraid of us ( vodka, anyway ) than we were of him, but, you know, best to be on the safe side.

 

We kept on returning to the last rock which we could definitely recognise and then aiming in – what we thought – was the right direction, after four goes at this andWith the Kangol guarding the real path we stumbled through the rocky undergrowth and found ourselves on the wrong side of the mountain.

 

Panic hadn’t set set in yet but we were all starting to realise the importance of being prepared….. which for this hike… we weren’t.

 

We did got lost coming back down. We set up standing points and shouted to one another for twenty minutes until I eventually stumbled upon the rocky goat track “which could be… erm, yes I think so… ” was the path . Relief was kept under wraps!

Upon finding the path and beginning to chat to one another again as we climbed down we realised that we really should be more prepared next time we go on these hikes, because if we hadn’t managed to find the path, the worst case scenario would have been having to stay there overnight, so there is a rucksack packed with essentials waiting to accompany us in future. Also, as we have already downloaded the app ” map my walk ” it seems like an appropriate time to figure out how to use it!

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When we started to drive out of the village, we were invited to join a village family for tea, by the man who had been staring at us as we drove through the village to Oeneonda.

It turned out  that the man, who’s name is Husain, is a guide who takes people up the mountain to the site, because he knows the correct route upwards, he had cards written in every language to show us, the cards read ” Hello, my name is HUSSAIN and I am a guide up the mountain. It is important to come with me as the mountain is dangerous and the track becomes easily lost. It is safe to come with a guide. So let’s go!”

 

We also learnt that he helped Martin Ferguseon Smith, the explorer, go up to the incredible ancient site, and he didn’t get lost once!

 

To conclude, I’d recommend this place for serious hikers, and not those who want a day trip because of its maze of tracks going up and a steep climb. I would recommend finding HUSSAIN or another local guide, wear good shoes or boots, take water and maybe leave a trail of breadcrumbs for the goats… I mean, ….to find your way back!

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By the way, GEOFF didn’t climb in those shoes, he had changed out of his boots in relief!

 

 

Leave a like for more blogs about these ancient sites, close to Fethiye or further afield!

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Pinara…

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…Up The Dirt Track…

Pinara is a spooky, but peaceful place.  Its atmospheric location in the west of the Xanthos Valley, north of the nearby Sidyma, makes it an unknown, yet fascinating place to explore.  There is no other Lycian site quite like Pinara.  It’s untouched mountain setting of towering oak trees, its hundreds of olive trees, wildflowers, oregano-scented breezes and its stunning view over the Xanthos valley make it incredible.

It’s a dead city, uncovered from the undergrowth, and overlooked by the dead eyes of so many rock cut Lycian tombs, which are engraved into the commanding cliff face.  Pinara was one of the major cities in the area, along with Olympus, Patara, Tlos, Xanthos and Myra.  Settlement at Pinara is believed to have existed as early on as the 5th century BC. Archaeologists believe that it was founded as an extension of the growing Xanthos.

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Its ruins are now tangled in growing flora, and the land is trimmed by the few goats. However, much of the site has fallen into rubble, and has had to face the weathering of nature. The ruins include a well kept amphitheatre that overlooks a piece of flat land and olive shrubs, an odeon, a church and the fallen ruins of a temple for the Godess of Love, Aphrodite.  This can be easily found, due to the fact that the column bases were love heart shaped, and the columns were the shape of a male penis.

Pinara’s ruins were identified by the renown Sir Charles Fellows, who found 13 other ancient Lycian sites in the Xanthos Valley. Upon the discovery of Pinara, he said:

“From amidst the ancient city rises a singular round rocky cliff, literally speckled all over with tombs. Beneath this cliff lie the ruins of the extensive and splendid city. The theater is in a very perfect state; all the seats are remaining, with the slanting sides towards the proscenium, as well as several of its doorways. The walls and several of the buildings are of the Cyclopean masonry (a type of stonework found in Mycenaean architecture), with massive gateways formed of three immense stones. The tombs are innumerable, and the inscriptions are in the Lycian characters, but Greek also occurs often on the same tombs. Some of these rock-tombs are adorned with fine and rich sculptures.”

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To get to Pinara, follow the main highway-( the D400)- between Fethiye and Kalkan, about 17 km northwest of Xanthos. The highway is marked by a Pinara signpost near the town of Eşen. Turn off the highway and continue to the town of Minare,about 4 km, until you come to the Pinara signpost indicating a left turn. Continue on the road for another 2km, where you will eventually reach the site car park.

Pinara is probably the second least visited after Sidyma, and doing both of them in one day makes for a nice roadtrip.  I would definitely recommended going to Pinara.

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Sidyma…

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…And The Olive Harvest…….

The ancient city of Sidyma lies on the southern slope of Mount Cragus.  Found by the British explorer Sir Charles Fellows,  the ruins are probably the most remote and unknown of all of the ancient sites situated in the Xanthos valley.

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It’s location, surrounded by the well known Pinara, Tlos,  Letoon and Xanthos mean this small and untouristic site mainly gets its visitors from those who dare to hike the rugged Lycian Way.  Located some 60km away from Fethiye, the site now shares its surroundings with the village houses, herds of sheep and goats, a dense forest and the occasional chicken or turkey.

 

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To get to Sidyma from Fethiye, follow the D400 towards Sedykemer, turning right for Letoon and Xanthos.   Before reaching the turn for Patara, you’ll see a brown sign pointing to Sidyma, along with another towards Dodurga.  Follow the road up the rugged hill towards Dodurga.  Pass through it, driving for another 2km.  You will see brown signs for it consistently, but it is advisible to get the route onto Google Maps aswell.

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Despite the lack of historians excavating the site-(probably because many of the ruins are now situated in people’s gardens! )-they believe that Sidyma’s ruins date back to the early Roman period.  More evidence of this is the ‘yma’ in Sidyma’s name, these three letters at the end of names were popular amongst Classical Antiquity sites.   This is proof of Sidyma’s existence from the beginning to the end of the Roman period.

 

Surprisingly, Sidyma is the first Lycian city we have been to that does not have an amphitheater. Instead, Sidyma is well known for its many pretty and engraved sarcophagi. The site also has a church, temple, many Hellenistic entrances, an uncountable amount of flora and vegetation-(both wild and farmed)- and even the occasional rabbit, goat and random roaming cow. This all makes Sidyma an incredible place to explore. To top it all off, there’s an intresting story of Sidyma’s story of success, turning from a small village of farmers, to a major trading post.

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During the Roman Empire’s war against the Iranian Persians, the soldier Marcus Auraleis was fatally injured. Auraleis was  brought to Sidyma, where, apparently, the people of Sydima saved him. For several weeks he was looked after by the villagers of this forgotten farming village. He repayed them when he became Emperor of the Empire. As a gift to the village, he gave Sidyma many benefits, such as making it a major trading post and giving it lots of money.

 

The site is interesting not only for its ruins, but also for the fact that the lovely village of Dodurga, which only has a population of 425 people,  has been built among the remains.  An example of this charming and nonchalant way of life is portrayed when walking down the rocky path towards the Necropolis.  Some houses have charmingly reused pillars to hold up door entrances, while one house was built into an ancient castle wall!

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The site is so untouched it makes visitiors feel like the first European explorers.  It’s also a very different alternative in vegetation and landscape to the dry and rugged terrains of Tlos and Letoon, since most of the ruins are built in people’s backyards, and others are built in beautiful, green grass areas.  The whole site seems to be very similar to that of a woodland walk in the U.K.  The flat green grass areas and the autumnal leaves, making the scenery a mix of green grass, snow topped mountains andduring the autumn, golden trees.

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What makes it even better is that everyone we met is so kind and lovely.  One lady we met upon parking, was eager to catch us.  Once we got out the car, she instantly gave us the option to have some of her tea, at her nearby house.  Her name was Bedrah, and using our small amount of Turkish, we had a conversation with her. She said that the tourists mainly come from  those who walk the Lycian Way, but that was only in the summer.  I think Mum liked her so much that she wanted to take her back to the boat with us!  She sold many things like traditional towels, honey and massage oil.  We bought some of her yummy homemade honey.

Sidyma is little-visited, which is a shame because it’s one of our favourite historical sites.  The fact that it’s so green, which is a rare terrain in Turkey, and the fact that it’s quite a large area is great, because it gives the dogs a chance to run around the site.

On the way back to Fethiye we stopped by the roadside to observe the technologically advanced methods used for harvesting the ripe olives….. such engineering dexterity had never been seen before and we were all in awe of the breakthroughs in equipment for this all important job.

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Leave a comment of where I should go to next, somewhere close again to Fethiye, or maybe further afield?

 

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Ottostop

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A Screen Printing Workshop…

Mum and I are just back from a great morning being creative and getting messy with Leyla Temiz from Ottostop. In her own words Leyla describes Ottostop as an ” independent design & screen printing studio shaded by a large avocado tree in a jungle-like garden in southern Turkey. Inspired by nature, travel, local village life and traditional Turkish arts & crafts.”

She’s got that pretty much right!

“Ottostop” is a combination of the words Ottoman and Ottostop, which is Turkish for ” hitchhike” and immediately appealed to our bohemian, nomadic lifestyle.

We arrived the morning after the first huge electrical storm of the winter and both mum and Leyla were complaining about lack of sleep from the noise of the storm the previous night. The garden though, was glistening wet in the morning sunshine and looked all the more jungle like from its recent drenching.

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Inside Leyla’s studio we were briefed very professionally about the methods and principles of screen printing and encouraged to practise a few times on gift cards and paper, until we were confident with the required technique – we were also encouraged to create our own inspirational designs to work with, if we wanted to, – but mum and I were happy to work with Leyla’s prepared screens……. for now….

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Leyla was on hand permanently to cast an eye over our shoulders and pass on encouragement and also to humbly point out enormous mistakes ( such as still leaving the clear Perspex marker sheet down when you come to do your print ! Doh ! )

Even though some errors were made, we had loads of fun in Leyla’s studio, and in the end turned out some really great ad interesting pieces of artwork!

A delicious array of breads, olives, fruits and cheese were laid out on one block board unit in the corner of the studio, and between snacking and feasting upon these nibbles and matching colours for the most impact for each print we were attempting, the morning passed really quickly. Chattering the whole time, mum, Leyla and I were getting along like old friends, the teacher was most gracious and accommodating.

Ottostop workshops are offered all year round out in the hidden Yaniklar studio, they need to be booked with Leyla, obviously, and you can contact her through her website or her Facebook page to check availability and organise a session.

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The workshops are a great way to get in touch with your creative demons, and even though I wasn’t immediately inspired to create an image from my own designs, since I have come away I have been brainstorming some concepts for a new heading for my blog…. An ” adventurer in training ” conceptual logo… the sketch pad is on the table and I think we will be visiting the Yaniklar jungle again really soon.

Letoon And Xanthos…

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…B.C. Monuments…

To the west of the spectacular Taurus Mountains, and located in the southern part of the agricultural and picturesque Xanthos valley, the two UNESCO World Heritage sites of Xanthos and Letoon can be easily reached from Fethiye and the surrounding Mugla and Antalya areas.

The two sites lie less then five kilometres from each other, which explains why Xanthos and Letoon are seen as a “double-site”… because the two were closely linked and Letoon was administered by Xanthos during the Lycian period.

 

The first site we visited was the 6th Century BC Letoon,  a dead city, much of it uncovered from the ground.   Here, there is a 36-row amphitheatre which seated up to seven-thousand eight hundred people,  an ancient bacillica, and a nypmhanium.

What really tops of the site though, are the three partially standing temples.  Since Letoon was the religious centre of Lycia, the three temples were built for the Godess Leto, and her two twins Apollo and Artemis.  In the centre of the temple of Apollo, a restored beautiful mosaic lays in the ground.

 

The site was discovered by a British naval officer in 1841, but excavation only began in 1962.

Even though archeological work has been temporarily suspended, there is evidence of the amazing amount of archeological finds from the site around the place, from carefully chipped and pretty columns, to large and boring stones which to an archaeologist or Lycian enthusiast, can somehow tell them the story of ancient cultures.

 

Five kilometres east of Letoon is Xanthos, the former capital of ancient Lycia, which dates back to the 8th century BC.  It is known to be the largest administrative centre of Lycia during antiquity.

It was made famous to the Western world in the 19th century by its British discoverer Sir Charles Fellow.

Fellows began travelling through Italy, Greece, and the Middle East, sketching and keeping a journal as he went. He was made famous because of his discoveries in Lycia and Turkey.

In 1838 he reached the region of Lycia and he explored the area around the Xanthos River.   Nine miles upstream from the sea, he discovered the ruins of the ancient Lycian capital, Xanthos.  He published his findings in- “A Journal Written During an Excursion in Asia Minor” (1839).  Returning to the region shortly afterward, he identified 13 ancient cities and in 1841 published his second book on the area, called- “An Account of Discoveries in Lycia, Being a Journal Kept During a Second Excursion in Asia Minor”. ( he didn’t like to skimp on a title it seems! )

One year later, in 1844 he gained permission to ship 78 cases of Lycian sculpture and architectural fragments to Britain bound for the British Museum, he gave them his most famous find, 6th- and 5th-century-bc Greek tomb sculptures called the ‘Harpy Tomb”.

 

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Lycian tomb on the left, and the Harpy tomb on the right.

The site is located on the top of a hill which has a 360 degree view of the Xanthos valley and overlooks the small and unwesternised villages of Kumluov and Kinik.

The sight also includes a massive amphitheatre, a Roman road, agora, Lycian tombs, church and a 5th century Necropolis.  The mystical ambience really makes the setting beautiful. But what is really spectacular about Xanthos is the obelisk.

On the uncreativly named Xanthian Obelisk is some of the longest and most important inscriptions of the Lycian language.  The obelisk is sometimes considered a Lycian version of the Egyptian Rosetta Stone, which, like the Harpy tomb, is also withheld in the British Museum.  Today, a similar obelisk to the Xanthian one is located in the Fethiye Museum.

 

In conclusion, Letoon and Xanthos make for great day trips from Fethiye and nearby areas.  It’s especially good for those who want to go and experience a blend of true Turkish village life and Lycian history.

Both can be easily reached from the other, so if you fancy a 5km walk, this is your chance.  Remember, if you go on Saturday, it’s market day.

Letoon is the better place for those who have bad legs, or find it difficult walking because it’s much flatter, whereas Xanthos is on a steep and rocky hill.  Both are great places to walk the dogs though!

Leave a like if you want me to write about more Lycian sites in the area, or maybe further afield.  Leave a comment where I should go to next!

 

 

 

Kaunos…

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Cross the river….Stepping Back In Time.

 

Set inland on the banks of the Dalyan River, the village of Dalyan is a peaceful holiday location unspoilt by mass tourism.

The romance of the place is heightened each morning as a fleet of gaily-painted boats chug off down the river carrying holidaymakers to the mouth of the river delta.

Dalyan is famous for two reasons, one, its nearby Itzuzu beach, one of the largest places in the world where Loggerhead and Green turtles nests there eggs.  The other reason is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of mystical Kaunos.

Kaunos was once a thriving Lycian port city on the South Western coastline of Anatolia, near Dalyan. Located at the epicentre between Marmaris and Fethiye. It was originally on the sea, but its harbour gradually silted up and fell into disuse. Its ruins tell a tale of a rich and opulent history with its many archaeological structures and elegant Kaunian rock-cut tombs, which overlook the town and river.

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To find the ancient city by car, you must drive to Dalyan and park there, before walking for 10 minutes down river-(towards the sea, so, hang a left and keep the river to your right ) eventually reaching the place where the pavement converges to the river side.

 

Here,you must ask an old lady to row you to the other side of the river.

Crossing the river by the rowing boat at the end of the Dalyan harbour is quaint and reflective of the bygone times you are soon to encounter, on ” the other side”.

She ( Canett ) takes you to a small and unspoilt traditional Turkish cafe run by her sister ( Cenett ) that makes gozleme and other Turkish dishes, stop a while for chai and Ayran.

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When you are ready to leave there, it’s then a twenty minutes walk following the road. Here, our dogs can be let of the lead, keeping an eye out for local tractors and mopeds. On this road, you see the famous Kaunos rock tombs, which overlook the Dalyan delta and the town and you stroll past orchards of Lemons, Figs, Pomegranates, Oranges and the occasional cattle and sheep farms, towards the ancient city ruins.

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Upon seeing the sign for Kaunos, the path and entrance do not seem inviting, but following the gradual incline, the path opens up into a flat, high area littered with ruins from over 1,500 years ago.  Besides the amphitheater which seats 5000 people and the church which can be seen in plain site, looking down the steady sloping valley there’s the harbour, Temples, agora and the old lake which was where the harbour was.

Apart from the Ancient ruins, the place is also full of incredible wildlife, such as rabbits, red squirrels, lizards and massive vultures and eagles.

 

 

We really hadnt left left enough time to explore the whole of this huge site, we only covered one level of the area and gazed lustfully over the sweeping valley area and also upwards towards the castle on its imposing rockface.

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Although we didn’t get to explore the whole of Kaunos what we did see was fascinating and we will make a date to come back, this time leaving Fethiye early in the morning so that we canwe will really explore the  incredible magnitude of the site.

 

There were people up at the Castle, so I’m presuming there is a pathway of sorts up to it, the views over the Dalyan delta would be awesome from up there! The valley looks exciting to with incredible restorations taking place all over the lower floor.

 

There are also a couple of hikes show not in the area itself, one of the city wall tours is four hours long! I think we had better make a day of it!

 

Take a picnic and some drinks, don’t forget your camera and good walking shoes! This time of year is pomegranate season and en route to the ruins there’s a delightful village lady selling her wares. Amazing honey and the tastiest, sweetest pomegranate juice Ive ever tasted. Oh, and don’t forget; Saturday is market day, so start early!!!