Explore The Turquoise Coast
It’s well worth breaking the ninety-minute uphill journey from Finike to Elmalı along Highway 635 at ancient Arykanda 34km north, not least to have a respite from the numerous trucks hurtling cavalierly along it with timber or loads of local orchard fruit. Coming directly from Kaş or Bezirgan, use the very scenic, short-cutting D751 between Kasaba and Çatallar, 4km below the ruins, entirely paved and fairly broad despite pessimistic depictions on old touring maps. Travelling by minibus, ask to be dropped off at Arif village, from whose gushing spring at the top end a signposted motorable side lane leads 1km to the ruins, on the east side of the road; at the site entrance you’ll find water taps. Individual monuments are scattered, often part-excavated and often unlabelled, though there are good site plans by the entrance and the acropolis. Finds here date to the fifth century BC, but the typically Lycian “-anda” suffix suggests foundation of the city a millennium earlier. Arykanda was a member of the Lycian Federation from the second century BC, and remained inhabited until the eleventh century, mainly confined to the area just to either side of today’s main through-path.Read More
Arykanda’s setting – a steep, south-facing hillside overlooking the main valley between the Akdağ and Bey mountain ranges – is breathtaking, comparable to Delphi in Greece. A pronounced ravine and power pylons divide the site roughly in half. Beside the parking area is a complex structure dubbed “Naltepesi”; entered by a right-angled stairway, its function is not yet completely understood, but you can make out a small bath-house and presumed shops. North of the parking area sprawls a large basilica with extensive mosaic flooring under tin-roof shelters posed over each aisle, and a semicircular row of benches (probably a synthronon) in the outer apse; there’s a more colourful mosaic just below featuring two birds. Another, smaller basilica just inside suggests eighth-century destruction and more modest rebuilding. But the most impressive sight, looming on the east, is the ten-metre-high facade of the main baths, with numerous windows on two levels, and apsidal halls at each end – the westerly one with a still-intact plunge pool, the easterly one with stacked hypocausts.
Other constructions worth seeking out include a small temple or tomb above the baths complex (one of three “monumental tombs” on the site plan), adapted for Christian worship; there are more Roman or Byzantine mosaics in the tombs or temples immediately east of the Christianized one. West of the ravine and power lines, and above the agora – whose engaging odeion has been defaced by horrible new marble cladding – an impressive, six-aisled theatre retains twenty rows of seats plus a well-preserved stage building. Above this sprawls a short but attractive stadium, with several rows of seats exposed.