Kalkan – Patara (Antalya)


Kalkan lies on the border of the provinces of Antalya and Mugla. The town, once a typical Mediterranean fishing village with its narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and colourful flowers in pots on window sills, has been discovered by tourism. Despite construction of new hotels and restaurants, Kalkan has managed to retain its fishing village atmosphere. Until 1922 this was a Greek town known as Kalamaki. After the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey, some of Kalamaki’s residents returned to Greece and others migrated to Australia. The Kocakaya Mosque in the centre of the town was a church until 1922. In addition to its fishermen and tourists, Kalkan is also a popular destination of Turkish intellectuals escaping the big cities. Pleasant small bars and fish restaurants surround the area of the marina, where yachts can moor and replenish their provisions. Shops selling handicrafts and various souvenirs are open until very late. Kalkan is a holiday destination with long and fun-filled nights. In this respect it can be seen as a little Bodrum.

Some entertain themselves listening to music in the bars; younger visitors who want their own music find places in the marina area to play their guitars and enjoy their bottles of wine. The uninhabited island off Kalkan is called Cata.

Tours and Beaches in the Vicinity

The centre of Kalkan is not very suitable for swimming. For swimming and beaches, you can go to neighboring coves either by land or sea. Some beaches can be reached on foot. Boats leaving from the marina offer day tours visiting coves and beaches such as Kaputas, Patara, Kas, Kekova Island, and their environs.

Kaputas Beach and Mavi (Blue) Cave

Seven kilometres east of Kalkan is Kaputas Beach, at a point where a canyon meets the sea. The beach, which you reach by walking down a staircase, has golden sand and turquoise water. There is a cavern, Mavi (Blue) Cave, 500 metres along the shore, which cannot be reached by tend, only by sea. The cave is about fifty metres long and forty metres wide, with a height between ten and fifteen metres. The depth of the water in the cave can be as much as thirty-five metres. The turquoise colour of the water, sparkling with the sunlight shining in, is an eye-catching sight. Kaputas and the Mavi Cave are two indispensable stops on cruising tours from Kas and Kalkan.

Bezirgan and Islamlar High Plateaus

Although Kalkan is located in a rocky area, short trips towards the Taurus Mountains offer greenery and nature. Travel agencies conduct jeep safari tours to the mountain villages and high plateaus. The most popular destinations are the Bezirgan High Plateau and the village of Islamlar. The continuously blowing breezes and the temperatures, four to five degrees Celsius lower than the seaside areas, make the region refreshing and relaxing. The high plateau of Bezirgan is fifteen kilometres from the Elmali turn from Kalkan. The high plateau and its unique houses are a pleasant sight.

Near the mosque is the village centre, always lively in summertime. The villagers set up what they call “Koskler”, makeshift open-air restaurants under old oak trees they call trees of famine. In these makeshift places they serve flat Turkish bread filled with cheese or spinach and other popular dishes such as bulgur yogurt, and fruit.

Horse or donkey trips to the high plateaus are popular. Horse tours can be longer or shorter according to customers’ wishes. Longer rides include a lunch of local dishes such as tarhana (homemade soup of tomato, red pepper, yogurt, and flour).

The summit of the Bezirgan high plateau, which can be reached on foot in fifteen minutes, is the site of the remains of the ancient city of Pirha and its rock-hewn tombs. The village of Islamlar is four kilometres from a turnoff on the Bezirgan- Elmali road. On the road and the outskirts of the mountain you come across many caves, whose purpose and date are unknown, and many springs with water jetting out. When you look down you see the beaches of Kalkan and Patara. The 300-year-old mill in the centre of the village is no longer in use. A bit farther you come to a trout farm and a restaurant where you can eat the farms produce and oven-baked village bread with the fish. You can also get meat and chicken dishes. If you visit in the right season, you can taste the grapes grown in the village. Inbag Cave on the Bezirgan coast is also worth seeing.

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Ancient Richness

The road between Kalkan and Fethiye provides easy reach to significant Lycian cities: Cadyanda, Letoon, Pmara, Sidyma, Arsada, Xanthos and Patara. Daily tours from Kalkan and Kas visit these ancient cities, which are not too far from each other and not spread over a very large area. However, it is difficult to visit all in one day, unless you just want to say that you have been.

The turn for Patara is ten kilometres along the road from Kalkan to Fethiye; from there it is six kilometres to the ancient city, and one more to the beach. Patara is four kilometres from the village of Gelemis at the entrance of the old town, but the ruins of the ancient city begin to appear before you get to Gelemis. Among the ruins believed to be the necropolis of the city, there are striking Lycian sarcophagi and Roman tombs. Gelemis has become a fully developed tourism village. The villagers, who used to work in their greenhouses, today run pensions, restaurants, and souvenir shops.

Patara was a member of the Lycian Union, one of the six cities that held the right to three votes, and possibly the most important of all. Most meetings of the Lycian Union were held at Patara. There are 5th century BC Lycian references to the existence of the city of Patara. According to legend, Patarus, son of the water nymph Lycia and the God Apollo, built the city. Patara was very important during the Roman period as well. It was significant for its port, its wheat warehouses, and for transport. The Christians considered the city, which maintained its development under Byzantine rule, significant as the birthplace of Saint Nicholas, now remembered as Father Christmas.

The city gradually lost its importance as the port of Patara filled up with sand, and vessels found it difficult to berth. The sand, shifted by the winds, not only silted up the port areal but in time also covered up much of the city. Some remains of the city lie today under the fantastic Patara Beach.

One of the most impressive ruins at Patara is the Roman Arch of Triumph, dated to the end of the 1st century AD. Among the other remains that can be seen towards the hill are the baths, a Byzantine basilica, and a Corinthian-style temple. The theatre, which is not on the side of the hill, is for the most part covered by sand. On the top of the hill is the Temple of Athena. The ancient port today is a part of the region’s wetlands. Barriers have been set up above Patara Beach to prevent further shifting of the sand by the winds.

Patara Beach

The beach is eighteen kilometres long and extends inland as much as 200 to 300 metres. The sand is very fine, just like flour, and the water is shallow for a long way out. The area is suitable for windsurfing since the breeze never stops. The beach is under environmental protection as rare sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand. There are restaurants in the area. The sun is turning hot and, as there is no shade on the beach, do not forget to rent an umbrella at the entrance.

Horse Riding on Patara Beach

At Patara’s Sultan Farm Horse Riding Centre you can join a horseback trip along the beach. The tours, on thoroughbred horses, last a few hours or more according to your wishes, and you can have a meal included or not. The tour takes in the sides of the channel, sand hills, and seaside. Along the route you pass through ruins of ancient cities, forests, and valleys. Generally, early mornings are preferred for the tour. If you have never ridden a horse, do not worry since information is provided before setting off.

Eşen River and Canoeing

Esen River, which forms the border between the provinces of Antalya and Mugla, is a meeting point for canoe enthusiasts. Canoeing tours from Kalkan, Kas, Fethiye, and even more distant cities start here. The 15- kilometre route, which begins from the bridge at Kınık, ends at the magnificent beaches of Patara. The water of the Esen River is clean enough to drink. As the current is calm, there is not much risk of rolling your canoe, though it is best to keep an eye out for small bumps and counter currents. The tour organizers provide lifejackets and the team leader keeps an eye on canoeists. This scenic trip lasts about 6.5 hours including a mud bath break on the way.

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