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      August 2010 > M-O-N-U-M-E-N-T-A-L


Lycian sarcophogi at Hoyranmon•u•men•tal
1. Of, resembling, or serving as a monument
2. Impressively large, sturdy, and enduring
3. Of outstanding significance
4. Astounding

Be in no doubt, Lycia is definitely 'monumental', however you define it. It is littered with the ruins of ancient civilizations, though perhaps that’s not the most appropriate verb to use; perhaps it would be better to say that there’s a very good reason that Lycia is known as one big open-air museum. Some sites are large, well-known and worth at least a half day’s visit to do them justice. At other times, you might literally stumble across the remains of buildings or a sarcophagus (see above) more than 2000 years old, probably known only to locals and a handful of academics.

The lighthouse at Kilidonya, Lycian Way, TurkeyThe Lycian Way route is certainly designed to ensure you have your fill of the past. Lycia has been both a fiercely independent federation of ancient cities, and has played its part in some of the most important empires in the history of civilization. While the full long-distance path may take weeks if not months to complete, our carefully selected sections of the route weave in and out of ancient settlements such as the vast city of Olympos and the impressive castle at Simena, to the small site at Hoyran about which little is known.

In addition to the remains of ancient cities, you will also pass through Yanartas, site of the demise of the fire-breathing monster known as the Chimera, by the monster-slayer Bellerophon in Greek mythology. You can often hear the distinctive roar of flames as well as being able to see the eternal fire even in broad Mediterranean sunshine. Even if you happen to understand the physics behind the phenomenon, it is still astonishing to see.

The route also takes you through some incredibly rugged and mountainous landscape; if you’ve never visited southwest Turkey before you may have an impression of sun, sea and sand. You wouldn’t be wrong, there’s certainly plenty of all three, but behind all this (usually by just a few metres) are some immensely imposing limestone edifices, some rising up to more than 2000m above sea level right from the coast. To put this into perspective, the highest point in our entire green and pleasant land is Ben Nevis, at a mere 1344m above sea level.

Walking on Mount Olympos, Lycia, TurkeyWith this in mind, I would suggest you to take the cable-car up Tahatli Dag (Mt Olympos) at the start of your holiday. It is quite surreal to step out of the shining metal summit station into the bright sunshine, waiting for your eyes to adjust, followed by the realization of just how far up you’ve come in the 10-minute ride as your eyes slowly focus on the coastline far below you. In case you’re wondering, you’ll be 2365m up in the air.

This ride also gives you the opportunity to stretch your legs on the short but demanding descent (left) back to the hotel in Beycik, a good warm-up for some of the challenging but extremely rewarding days ahead. You’ll sample a delightful mix of lodgings along the way; this isn’t the place to describe them all in detail, but I do feel compelled to mention the breathtaking vista from the pool terrace at Hoyran – the very reason that the owners chose to buy the plot and build their beautiful hotel there nearly 10 years ago. Truly astounding.

Spectacular SimenaI wouldn’t be giving a complete report if I failed to mention Turkish hospitality. Theirs is a genuine and honest version, not one learnt in recent years for the benefit of tourists, but one that is an integral part of their culture - always concerned for your welfare (both my physical and mental health, as I was walking the route in July – not to be recommended!), proferring advice and offering assistance unsolicited, and not asking for anything in return.

The final word from me has to be about Simena (pictured right) - not just because of the wonderful location (you can only access the village by boat or on foot) or for the peaceful evening beside the placid Mediterranean. No, I liked it most for purely selfish reasons: I had been there once before, over 20 years ago, and yet time appears to have stood still – it remains the tiny village I remember and, most importantly, it has retained its authenticity. I urge you all to go and sample it for yourselves.

Walking the Lycian Way, Turkey

Posted: 05/08/2010 16:19:32 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: heritage, Turkey, walking

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