Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Arykanda   Leave a comment

I’ve been doing a bit of sightseeing in the last couple of weeks, places that I should have been to but haven’t. I was introduced to a visitor from America who is going to a lot of places around the world photographing and writing about them. She wanted to have a look at some of the archaeological sites near here so I decided to take a few days off from my labours, drag out my camera which hasn’t seen any proper work for a while and accompany her. Arykanda was the first place we went. There is a main road which goes north from Finike but the coast road is such a trial to get there I thought we could do it more quickly heading north from Demre which is a lot nearer. It wasn’t until we got lost up in the mountains and needed help from the maps that I noticed that a section of one of the roads was indicated on the map in orange colour, the rest were all red. Well we toured around a lot of dirt roads until we came close to getting bogged down and I decided that going back a few miles was the bravest thing to do. We could have been stuck in mud up there for a long time and we hadn’t seen anyone to ask the way so we turned round and retraced our steps until we saw a sign and followed that road. The signs up there are very few and far between.

This is an abandoned school on the road into the mountains, people have moved away from a lot of villages into the towns and cities for a less hard life so the countryside is often deserted apart from a few goatherders.

Anyway we eventually found the right road and carried on until I saw a sign for Arykanda in my rearview mirror and stopped to have a look. The sign that should have been facing our side of the road had a truck parked in front of it blocking my view so we went up a little lane and found the place.

Arykanda was discovered by an English traveller and researcher Charles Fellows, one of the first travel writers of which there are now legions trotting around the globe. It was seen by other travellers during the following years but remained largely forgotten due to the difficulties of getting there.

Arykanda appears to have been inhabited from the end of the late Calcolithic Age (Copper Age beginning in the late 5th Millenium BC) and survived because of it’s easily defensible location with a huge rock cliff behind it and thick forests in front. Even now it is barely visible from the road and is easy to miss if you don’t see the signposts. After a string of earthquakes necessitating major rebuilding each time the inhabitants moved to a place a little way away.

The city is now being conserved and tourism is being encouraged although there were only a few people there when we visited. There are temples dedicated to Helios and Trajan and the remains of other temples as yet of unknown dedication. Here are a few photographs to whet the appetite.

This is the bath complex from the rear and the front respectively.

The centre of one of the mosaics, the photograph doesn’t really do the whole thing justice.

There are lots more things to see, and the setting below the huge cliff is stunning, it is well worth a visit.
On the lane up to the site there is a very nice pension and restaurant where we had something to eat and met Mustafa and Aysel who own and run it. A very pleasant watering hole after clambering around ruins and getting lost in the mountains.

Next will be Patara, Xanthos and Letoon.

Posted June 8, 2011 by cukurbagli in Building, Food, History, Tourism, Turkey

Side – more photographs   Leave a comment

At last I am able to finish the notes on Side. Not much more to talk about as we were only there for a couple of days so here are a few pictures of the place with a few comments. All of the photographs are clickable for the larger version.

Here is a small part of the ancient harbour, there’s a new and much larger one where the big boats moor, this one seems to be reserved for the little boats.

This one is in the bigger modern harbour. I rather liked the juxtaposition of colours here and the way they reflected in the water.

This little black cat could be heard all over the harbour, he wanted some fish and wasn’t going to give up crying until he got some. Obviously he is well known to the fishermen who regularly feed him. He seemed to be the only one there.

Talking of juxtapositions, I thought this horse on top of the restaurant looked sufficiently crazy to warrant a photograph.

This house was a very good example of an old system being deemed good enough to use in modern times. Apart from mortar the infill between the stone blocks is of broken clay pottery, just the same as you can see on some of the old Roman remains around the town. Why change a system if it works?

Yet another juxtaposition. All around the town there are modern (I use the term loosely) buildings next to or even integrated with ancient remains in their structure. Here the Temple of Apollo can be seen close to houses with part of the Basilica just to the left of it.

This young woman was making a very intricate and fine kilim using silks. The designs she was using are hung above for reference. The speed she worked at was very impressive and clearly she was highly skilled and experienced. There were no markings for her to follow on the backing strings (warp or weft?) the accuracy of the resulting design was solely due to her skill in interpreting the pictures.

Almost all of the houses have been turned into restaurants, hotels or shops. Here just back from the seafront the shops dominate.

Well that’s all for now, you should really go and see the place for yourselves, you’ll be delighted, amazed and in July or August very hot too.

Posted November 1, 2010 by cukurbagli in Building, History, Tourism, Turkey

Visit to Side – brief history.   1 comment

Side, what a nice place to have all that archaeology.  Last weekend a friend and I went over to Side, about four hours straight driving time from here. To someone with a passing interest in history it is like manna from heaven. Archaeology surrounds you on all sides and under your feet too, in the old town you never seem to be more than a couple of metres from another piece of carved stone.

Apparently there had been a late season rush and most of the hotels were fully booked but two rooms were found in a little ’boutique’ hotel and, while not exactly salubrious, it provided shelter, breakfast and a bar.

A quick shower and change and out to see the sights pretty much left me with my jaw on the floor. I’ve never been to Rome or any of the big ancient Greek places but the extent and quality of the remains in Side are a bit overwhelming at first. The ‘old’ town of Side (not as old as the remains though) is made up of small houses converted into bars, restaurants and hotels in more modern years. A lot of the buildings incorporate 2000 year old remains. The origins of the ancient city date from the 15th century B.C. and it has had a history of being attacked and occupied by most of the rulers of the Middle Eastern empires. It was invaded by the Persians in 547 B.C. and surrendered to Alexander the Great in 334 B.C later to become the site of his mint. The Ptolemaios and Seleucids then fought over it and it became part of the kingdom of Pergamos in 188 B.C.

The theatre dates from the second century A.D. with additions in the third century.


Side had gained importance as one of the Mediterranean trading centres and at the beginning of the 1st century B.C. pirates captured and carried out raids on shipping and trading caravans.

In 78 B.C. the Romans took it over and it’s rise to it’s heyday began. Temples, a huge amphitheatre, baths and all the trappings of the finest Roman lifestyle were built. Cleopatra and Anthony stayed there too, although a friend of mine says this about them:

“Did you know that Cleopatra was an arrogant bitch who had a habit of murdering her siblings and other relatives, as well as in intervals the entire aristocracy in Alexandria  in order to stay in power? The only reason she stayed in power and was not taken over by the Romans was due to the support of her lovers, first Caesar and later Anthony. They used her as a source of gold and grain, both important for their wars. Likewise, Anthony was not the dazzling man one would like to imagine. He was a lousy general; made a major mistake somewhere east of Turkey – attacking while leaving his supply troops behind, unprotected in an open field. Also, he was a heavy drinker. So, now the Cleopatra and Anthony illusions are destroyed. But apparently they did love each other.”

And there’s more:

“Know how they died? Cleopatra built herself a huge mausoleum in Alexandria and when things went bad and the two were hunted down by Octavian and his army, she went in there and ordered the only door to be permanently closed with a stone wall (but there was a window!). Through a courier she let Anthony know that she was dead (which was not the case; cunning woman she was). So he decided to commit suicide and asked a slave to help him do it. But the slave did not want to do it and instead killed himself. So Anthony stabbed himself into the stomach, but did not do a complete job of it. Cleopatra heard his cries and looked out of the window, from which he rightfully concluded that she was not dead. He wanted to join her; so he got pulled up and in through the window of the mausoleum and he died shortly thereafter. So now she had to decide to commit suicide. She died 10 days later; historians think by letting herself being bitten by a poisonous snake. Her kids by Caesar and Anthony were later on killed by the Romans.”

The slave trade and maritime commercial activities further increased the wealth found in Side but by the end of the 3rd century A.D. following attacks from the northern mountain peoples it’s prosperity waned. For the next hundred years it was a shadow of it’s former glory and then a Christian Bishopric, founded by the Byzantine Empire in 5th and 6th centuries restored it’s fortunes. Between the 6th and 10th centuries it suffered earthquakes, attacks by Arabs and was again taken over by pirates. The people had obviously had enough by the the 10th century because they left to go to live in Antalya, in 1150 it was completely abandoned.

The Seljuks reigned over the area in the 13th century and then the Ottomans from the 15th but nothing was done to restore the city, then when the population exchange between Greece and Turkey occurred in the early 20th Century Turks from Crete established a village called Selimye on the site of the ancient city. This has now become Side full of tourism with it’s long sandy beaches and miles of hotels.

Anyone with a passing interest in the history of the Mediterranean peoples or archaeology would have a great experience by visiting Side. I intend to go again sometime during early spring to get some better photographs and enjoy some time there unhampered by pushy bar staff and holidaymakers.

On the day we left we went looking for a pig and ostrich farm that we had been told about. It is to the north of Manavgat and eventually we found it but weren’t able to buy any meat, much to my disappointment. I’ll definitely phone ahead next time so that they can get the freezer stocked up. I was strange to see the pigs in their sties and ostriches in their pens though.

Posted September 25, 2010 by cukurbagli in Building, History, Tourism, Turkey