plain of thyme in Turkish boasts some of the best Lycian
ruins spread along this rocky south coast, including the ancient Lycian
sunken city of Simena
. Once, an exclusive domain of luxury yachts and boat tours is now open to all due to the road and trail improvements.
It offers easy access to many of the ruins from the village of Ucagiz and further in land the ruins of Apollonia, dependent on Aperlae and then the large ruins of Cyaneae.
Ucagiz (“three mouths”) is 38km from Kas
, once a quiet village now has its own excess of carpet, antique and jewellery shops along with many boat tour operators vying for your business. Ucagiz and its surrounding areas have been designated an archaeological site which, fortunately, protects it from mass building construction.
Hotels and Restaurants in Ucagiz
It is very busy during July and August when rooms could be hard to find, the pansiyons here are basic, can be pricey and the better ones are to found at the west end of the village. The waterside restaurants can also be expensive.
Transportation to Ucagiz
There is only one dolmus per day from Demre
which is really for the use of the villagers and not geared for tourism.
Places to Visit in Kekova and Ucagiz
(Kale), Aperlae can all be reached on foot from the village and as there is no beach boat trips are the main activity here.
Teimiussa, occupied in the 4th century BC has scattered rock tombs with benches cut into them where the deceased families would sit, the hill above has a fort/tower and far below sea level a tiny rock cut pier.
10 minute boat ride from Ucagiz and situated below the ruined castle of the Knights of St. John ( Simena
) another archaeological site also protected from new building, has a few pansiyons and half a dozen or so waterside restaurants. The climb up to the ancient acropolis is not only worth it for the views but to see the medieval castle with its inner theatre carved into the rock that was able to seat at least 200 people.
Aperlae, a 40 minute boat ride southwest of Ucagiz, to the quayside, where you will find two restaurants, it’s an half hour walk to the remote and deserted ruins of the site. The remains of the city walls are easily recognisable. The quay and other related buildings are all underwater and rows of building foundations divided into narrow streets with pavements intact near the shore are visible.
Apollonia has an excellent necropolis showing distinctive pillar tombs that prove its antiquity. This can be reached on foot from Bogazcik or the track from Kilincli (Sicak) on the Üçağiz road. It has an unusual two level carved tomb, 6th or 7th century Byzantine
church and delightful little theatre. The views from the hill are worth this experience alone.
Cyaneae is in the hills above the Yavu village, known today as “city of sarcophagi” because the site has the most Lycian
sarcophagi of any city in the area. The most impressive sarcophagi is completely carved from the rock it stands on with its gothic arched lid cut from the same piece of rock that has two lions heads protruding from each side. There is a subterranean tomb with six columns and an impressive temple tomb with a single free standing column porch. The hilltop acropolis on the south side is so steep that it did not need protection. Some of the buildings inside include a library, baths and two Byzantine
churches. As the city had no natural spring close by, vaulted cisterns and reservoirs square cut from living rock are everywhere. West of the summit is a theatre with 23 rows of seats still visible.
Kekova Island and Sunken City
Island with the only beach in the area has the best of the ruins, most of which are submerged and visible below the sea. This “ Sunken City ” known as Batık Sehir has stairs, pavements, walls to houses and a long quay but swimming and snorkelling in the area is strictly prohibited and the best way view it is by a sea kayak tour as the larger boats will not approach the rocky shoreline.