We have been on a sailboat for the past four days, stopping each day at a couple of sites to inspect ancient ruins dating from as early as 600 BC to those of Greek and Roman times. Steep mountains run right into the Mediterranean, and the hillsides are covered with pine and chaparral, although different species than we see along the California coast. Our boat took us into protected coves each night, and we ferried across from our mooring to the sites of interest in a dinghy or hiked overland through pine forest and open desert scrub.
This area in southwestern Turkey (formally known as Lycia) was originally settled by Hittite people who occupied the fertile valleys near natural harbors along this meandering coastline about the time of the peak of Egyptian civilization. Over time, they were absorbed into the Persian, then the Greek, Roman, and finally Ottoman Empires. In most cases, the original settlements were abandoned as their harbors silted up or trade routes changed. Evidence of the presence of the early Lycians remains in their cliffside tombs, which were decorated with ornate carvings on the rough limestone.
Greek and Roman influence is obvious in what remains of temples, market places, and theaters (we would call these large seating areas a stadium), where even the commoners could afford the cheap seats high in the balcony sections.
But sometimes our hikes to the ruins revealed only piles of crumbling stone and some foundations in the middle of nowhere, and little indication of what this village or city might have been like.
What a great way to appreciate the countryside, the country’s history, and the scenic beauty of this coastline. And we were treated to a few spectacular sunrises and sunsets, as well.