At the southwest corner of the Turkish coast lies one of the most beautiful and unspoiled areas of the Mediterranean. This region, called the Teke Peninsula, was known in the antiquity as Lycia.
Stretching roughly from modern Fethiye (Telmessus) to the Bay of Antalya, the boundries of Lycia were: Caria to the west, Pamphylia to the East, Pisidia and Phrygia to the North and the Mediterranean Sea to the South.
The Taurus Mountains range reaching heights of 3,000 meters (Mt. Akdag), isolates the province in a horseshoe formation and makes the area very rugged. The rivers flowing from sources in these mountains have created fertile valleys with alluvial deltas.
Traveling from East to West, most important of these deltas are:
- Alakir (Limyros) and Baþgöz (Arycandos) -> Fenike Plain (the largest in Lycia)
- Demre (Myros) -> Demre Plain
- Esen (Xanthos) -> Kinik Plain
- Kizildere (Glaucos) -> Fethiye Plain
- Dalaman (Indos) -> Dalaman Plain
Tha mountains, mainly composed of limestone, are covered with the typical Mediterranean "maquis" and dotted with wild olive and carob trees at the lower altitudes. On the high ground, up to an altitude of 2,000 meters, there are mostly oak and pine forests; the most typical species being storax, red and yellow pine and cedar which have provided wood for the shipyards building crafts for thousands of years. Cedars as old as 2,000 years can be seen in the Antalya region.
The coastal plains are covered with lush vegetation consisting mainly of citrus trees and a relative newcomer - Eucalyptus - which was introduced from Australia in the 1940s.
The Christian Lycia
Today Turkey is a civil state with a Muslim population of 98% but this has not always been the case as a quick glance at the countries chronological table will show.
In 392 AD. Theodosius the Great made Christianity the state religion and it remained so until the last Byzantium emperor, Constantine XI, died in battle in 1453.
Long before the birth of Christianity one learns from the Bible that much of the Old Testament drama happened on soil which is today defined as Turkey. The Garden of Eden, for example is placed in the fertile plain embraced between the Tigrus and Euphrates Rivers which have their sources in Turkey and the final resting place of Noah’s Ark is thought to be at Mt. Ararat, north of Lake Van.
Close by here in the province of Antalya, which in the days of the Classical Greeks and Romans, was known as Lycia. There is much evidence to be found supporting the very early Christian Church and the ruins of those young Byzantine Churches are to be seen at Xanthos, Letoon, Patara and other sites. Patara, especially, figured in quite a major way and is mentioned in the New Testament (Acts. 21:1-2) where the third missionary journey of St. Paul and St. Luke is written about.
"And it came to pass, that after we were gotten form them and had launched, we came with a strait course unto Coos, and the day following unto Rhodes, and from thence unto Patara. Second, and finding a ship sailing over unto Phenicia, we went abroad and set forth."
In all probability, the Chritian Church was established in Patara in Apostolic times.
St. Nicholas of Myra (St. Claus) was born at Patara (BC.300) and spent his youth there and in AD. 325, bishop Eudemus of Patara attended the Council of Nicea.
Sea Caves Of Lycia
The most important sea caves in Lycia can be seen during a boat trip from Kalkan. Traveling from west to east the caves are:
Güvercinlik, four kilometers from Kalkan, is the home of hundreds of wild pigeons. This cave is only accessible to swimmers even though the entrance is very wide. One of the most important underwater coastal streams emerges from this cave causing the water temperature to drop from 25-30°C in summer to 13°C.
Güvercinini, opposite Güvercinlik, this cave is approximately 40 m. long and 30 m. high. The entrance is very narrow an it is only accessible to swimmers, and of course, the pigeons and bats who make their homes in the cracks of the ceiling. It is preferrable to visit this cave an hour or two before the sunset to appreciate the effects caused by the reflecting light. The deep blue color seen when looking out underwater towards the entrance is marvelous.
The Blue Cave. The entrance to the Blue Cave can be seen at its location two kilometers to the East, beyond beautiful Kaputaþ Beach. This cave has the distinction of being the largest known sea cave in Turkey (50 m. long, 35 m. wide and 17 m. high) and before the frequent intrusion of tourists it was inhabited by Mediterranean seals. Again the deep blue color is especially remarkable when looking out to sea from the inside of the cave and this effect is enhanced when diving with a mask.
There are other sea caves in Lycia and the most important of these are between Fethiye and Ölüdeniz; Salim and Iblis sea caves. Kekova Island’s South Shore sea cave. Asirli Island sea cave (close to Kekova).