The 1100-metre-high plain around Elmalı is upland Lycia’s biggest stretch of arable land, noted for its apples, potatoes, sugar beets and chickpeas – and, until modern conservation edicts, timber from the Beydağları cedars too. ELMALI (literally, “apple-ish”; population 15,000), dominated by Elmalı Dağı (2296m), is notable for its domestic architecture: some houses in the hillside old quarter are beautiful Ottoman timber-framed konaks, though many are in precarious condition, and all are greatly outnumbered by the straggly sprawl of the new town. The air is fresh even in summer, with a faint smell of wood smoke, and Gömbe is even easier to reach from here than from Kaş.
Elmalı’s fine Ottoman mosque, the 1610-vintage Ömerpaşa Camii, is decorated outside with beautiful faïence panels and inscriptions; the interior is disappointing, while the mosque medrese now serves as a library. The town comes alive for its Monday market, the best and least touristy in the region, and its wrestling competition, held for three days in a purpose-built stadium during early September.
With transport, head northwest beyond Elmalı to Güğübeli, an 1830-metre pass at the north end of the Akdağ massif. The pass allows a worthwhile short cut west to the Fethiye area, with fine views east to the Beydağları and west to the mountains behind Fethiye. It’s a forty-minute drive through a river canyon, past tufts of juniper and the odd pastoral pen, while the descent southwest to Highway 350 via Seki passes the turning for Oenoanda. Though well paved, this is considered a minor road, and not kept snow-ploughed from late December to mid-April, when chains will usually be needed.Read More