Sunday, October 21, 2012
The Sublime Arykanda
I have been here before and this place completely enchanted me. The Blue Guide, not one to gush about anything, calls Arykanda the most beautiful ruin in all of Turkey. Considering how many there are, that's saying a lot. Back in the day, the inhabitants of the city were noted for their laziness and excesses. I don't know, if where I was living was so steep, once I got to the top, I'd stay there and be excessive, so yes, I can see why they wouldn't want to move around so much.
I started the day in Patara, which is quite a distance from Arykanda. I was advised to go through Elmali, a mountain town noted for its apples - elma = apple in Turkish. This involved a long and scenic ride through the mountains. I was also advised to see the mosque in Elmali. I passed on that, plus I didn't buy any apples. Instead, I hopped the next bus south and had it drop me outside of the town of Arif.
After a walk up a narrow road, you end up here. The ruins go all the way up, almost to the base of the cliff.
This is the Byzantine basilica. It's got a killer view of the valley.
Here's a monumental tomb from the necropolis. No telling who's buried here, but they probably just a little less lazy than their fellow citizens, because they had to expend some effort to get rich.
You climb up, up, up and run into the theater. As ancient theaters go, this one is in very good shape, except there's a tree growing out of the seats on the right. So yeah, it's an obstructed view.
Above the theater is the stadium. This one is pretty small, as it's carved out of the side of a hill, but for lazy people, they tried pretty hard to make this nice. It was big enough for some short foot races, maybe some wrestling matches, but definitely not chariot races.
The thing about Arykanda is that there are lots of features that were truly built to last. This is the outside of the theater. According to the Blue Guide, it was last rebuilt in the 3rd century.
This archway has probably stood for the better part of two millennia.
And this stairway has been around for as long as that, maybe more.
Here's a nice sweeping view from the commercial agora. Usually, a city had just one agora that combined business, religion and politics, but owing to the steepeness, the political agora was somewhere below. Have you noticed anything that's missing here? Yeah, that's right, no tourists. That's another thing I like about Arykanda. There are maybe two other people here along with me. It's a chore getting here, but the payoff is immense. Another thing that I find exceptionally cool is that every time the wind blows - which is often - the sound that it makes through the pine trees is this really distinctive whooshing noise. It's worth it just to sit down and listen for a while. This is just an awesome place.
If all that natural beauty and whooshing aren't enough, there are also Byzantine mosaics. As you can see, they're very well preserved. I mean, you can tell these birds are fighting.
Here's another example
On the way back to the road, you pass this sign. Oh, you crazy Turkish people, you've managed to misspell every single word in "Wir sprechen Deutsch." There's just something so charming about this. I mean, how good can their German be if they can't even spell it right? If I hadn't been strapped for time, I would have stopped in and found out, but I decided to make a break for Demre.
Posted by Igor Keller