Explore The Turquoise Coast
Ancient Oenoanda, about 50km northeast of Tlos, was among the northernmost and highest (1350–1450m elevation) of the Lycian cities. Set in wild, forested countryside, it’s almost unpublicized but, as an example of how all local sites were before tourism, thoroughly rewards the effort involved in reaching it (own transport essential).
Oenoanda was the birthplace of Diogenes the second-century AD Epicurean philosopher; to him is attributed antiquity’s longest inscriptionary discourse, scattered in fragments across the site. Oenoanda was first surveyed by British archeologists in 1996 and is set for more vigorous future excavations. With luck, digs will reassemble Diogenes’ text to its full estimated length of 60m, and firmly identify structures. Until then, the site remains a romantic, overgrown maze of tumbled lintels, statue bases, columns, cistern mouths and buried arches, frequented only by squirrels and the occasional hunter or shepherd.
To reach Oenoanda, leave Highway 400 at the Kemer river bridge, keeping straight onto Highway 350, signed for Korkuteli. Some 34km later, bear right (east) onto a side road marked for Seki and Elmalı; a fine Ottoman bridge in the Seki Çayı by the modern asphalt is the most durable indicator. Turn south after 1100m onto a more minor road (the sign is rusted over); 800m down this, veer right at an unmarked fork to proceed 1.5km further to İncealiler village. Turn right at the phone box and standard archeological-service sign – do not follow the river further upstream – and park by the coffeehouse. Head up the main pedestrian thoroughfare among village houses, then near the top of the grade, bear right at heaped boulders onto a narrower track which soon dwindles to a path. Continue west towards the escarpment in front of you, where the first freestanding tombs poke up. The path describes a broad arc south around the top of a stream valley, forging through low scrub.
Some 45 minutes from the coffeehouse, the trail fizzles out at polygonal masonry of the massive south-to-north aqueduct that supplied the city, whose site-bluff inclines gently to the south but is quite sheer on all other sides. Slip through a gap in the aqueduct, with necropolis tombs flung about on every side, and veer right along the ridge towards Oenoanda’s massive Hellenistic city wall, with an arched window; the way through is left of this, by a strong hexagonal tower with archers’ loopholes. Some fifteen minutes’ walk north from here, keeping just east of the ridge line, brings you to the large flat paved agora; just beyond stand tentatively identified baths, with a surviving apse and dividing arch. Just northeast, a gate in the Roman wall, longer but much lower than the Hellenistic one, opens onto a vast flat area, provisionally dubbed an “esplanade”, flanked by traces of stoas. Northwest of the presumed baths, a nymphaeum or small palace with a three-arched facade precedes the partly preserved theatre, its fifteen or so rows of seats taking in fine views of Akdağ.