Seven Journeys to Anatolia: Episode VI



Antalya, founded in 159 BC, has been continuously inhabited since its founding by Attalos II, king of Pergamum, who named the city Attaleia after himself. The Romans, Byzantines and Seljuks successively occupied the city before it came under Ottoman rule, The elegant fluted minaret of the Yivli Minareli Mosque in the center of the city, built by the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddln Keykubat In the 13th century, has become Antalya’s symbol. Surrounded by beautiful scenery of sharp contrasts, Turkey’s principal holiday resort- is an attractive city with shady palm-lined boulevards and a prize-winning marina. In Antalya’s picturesque old quarter of Kaleiçi, narrow, winding streets and old wooden houses abut the ancient city walls.

Just east of Antalya is Perge. Originally settled by the Hittites around 1500 BC, Perge was an important city in ancient Pamphylia. St. Paul visited this city on his first missionary journey. The theater stage has finely carved marble reliefs, and other carvings from around the city are displayed in the stadium.

East of Perge is the ancient Aspendos, renowned for its theatre, the best preserved example from antiquity, with seating for 15,000. Still used today, the theater’s galleries, stage decorations and acoustics all testify to the architect’s success. Nearby stand the remains of a basilica, an agora and one of the largest aqueducts in Anatolia.

North of Antalya stands Yalvaç (Pisidian Antioch) and, nearby, the ancient Pisidian Antioch. It was here that St. Paul changed world history by opening Christianity to the pagan world. Among ruins in Yalvaç are St. Paul’s Basilica, several aqueducts, the Temple of Augustus, a theater, and well-preserved public baths.


The ancient Lycian Region, west of Antalya, is the land of Anatolia’s noblest souls. To be a noble soul is to be a scholar and a humanist, to love art, and to love tolerance.

The noble souls of Anatolia were leaders in preserving the humanist principle and developing it during the 4th century AD. In the following century, their thoughts spread and gained respect throughout the western world.

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Saint Nicholas, later known as Santa Claus and Father Christmas, was born In the biblical harbour town of Patara (December 6, 240 AD). Young Nicholas grew to be a generous man, and entered the priesthood. When his parents died, leaving him a great deal of money, he gave It away to the needy and poor instead of spending it on himself. He believed that the right way to do a good deed was covertly and anonymously, expecting nothing in fl return. He lived for many years in Demre (Myra), east of Patara. This story is told of jS how he was elevated to the rank of bishop:

“….. Early one morning he went into church as he did every day and was surprised to see all of the churchmen gathered there. The churchmen ran up to him and shouted, “Hail to our new bishop!” Nicholas could hardly believe his ears. One of them explained, “Our old bishop died a few days ago. We have been arguing ever since about who should be chosen to take his place but we couldn’t agree. Last night as we prayed, we heard a voice which said, “Choose as your new bishop the first man who shall enter this church tomorrow. We have spent all night here and now our prayers have been answered. You were the first to enter our church. Hail to Nicholas, Bishop of Myra!” (285 AD).

And so it was done. Nicholas became Bishop of Demre and he remained the generous man he had always been. He performed many miracles during his lifetime: he saved Demre from famine, sailors from shipwreck and innocent people from harm. He always took the time to be especially kind to children and in particular to young girls from poor backgrounds, for whom he often provided dowries so they could marry.

This humanistic Bishop died in Demre (342 AD). He was well loved and respected by the people, who had only good things to say about him. Nicholas was so well loved that the citizens built a church In his honor. Veneration of him was brought to Europe by Italian sailors during the Middle Ages. His feast day on the 6th of December Is celebrated and Santa Claus turned into an indispensable element of the Christmas spirit. If you come here to celebrate Christmas, you’ll find a sunny Christmas holiday resort on the sandy coast of ancient Lycia.

In the biblical city of Demre, there are many splendid carved rock tombs overlooking the magnificent Roman theatre, From Dalyanağzı (Andriake), you can sail to the Kekova region, Santa Claus’ favourite playground, Kekova is the name for this entire area of picturesque islands, numerous bays and ancient Lycian cities. The colors in a Van Gogh painting— blue skies, orange sunsets—starry nights, peace and tranquility, playful dolphins, mythological mysteries, Santa Claus’ spirit and the sparkling sea: Kekova provides all this and more along with a paradise for sailing and yachting.

West out of Kekova is a lovely spot, the friendly Mediterranean town of Kaş. When you feel like exploring further, the choice of coves, bays and beaches is almost endless. The local fishermen are very friendly and are happy to run a water-taxi service to take you to favourite bay along the coast. The area around Kaş has remained completely unspoiled, and is ideal for people who enjoy swimming. Kaş is also perfect for the diver who wants to explore the underwater world.

Be sure to visit Kaş’ theatre and Lycian tombs, the largest of which is in the center of town. These will help you to relive the days when this town was called Antiphellos. Wandering the streets, be sure to stop and examine the souvenir shops specializing in Turkish handicrafts.

Mythology records that Apollo was born in Patara. The ruins in the area are, of course, numerous and fascinating. Its 22 kilometers of pure white sand is the longest beach of Europe, making it a natural choice for all types of beach sports.

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