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near Gelemiş, Antalya (Türkiye)
Patara, which was founded 5000 years ago, has maintained its importance throughout history. In the ancient times the city was a getaway to the Mediterranean Sea. The harbour, that was important for sea trade, was the main reason for the development of Patara. The settlement was formed around the harbour. Conquered by Alexander the Great after the Persian rule, Patara served as a naval base in the following years. Enjoying its heyday in the Roman Period, the city became one of the Episcopal centres of early Christianity. After this period the population of Patara decreased due to epidemic diseases and wars. However, the main reason for losing its importance is found in the fact that the city lost its harbour when Patara Bay was filled with sands carried by the Xanthos (today: Eşen river).
Nowadays Patara has a beautiful beach that stretches for more than 15 km. This beach is a nesting area for Marine turtles and therefore has regulated access in the summer season.
Before arriving at the parking where we start our hike we will pass the barrier of the entrance to the Patara Archaeological site. Here we will buy our entrance ticket for the museum (December 2019 Adults 24 TRY).
We leave our car close to the museum shop and start with a walk through the Archaeological site.
Close to the museum shop we find public toilets. The museum shop sells books but also water and bisquits and the likes.
First we pass the ancient theatre where we enter from above through a small tunnel. We then continue to the viewpoint. Here we will see the Kurşunlutepe cistern and the monumental tomb. From the view point we can oversee the ancient city of Patara and the beach with its impressive dunes. We than walk back and continue to the Bouleuterion. This is the parliament building where the elected representatives of the Lycian League met. The state of conservation of this building is impressive. A little bit further we arrive at main street (At present partially floaded with water). Both sides of the street are lined with Ionic order colonnades as wide a 6.00 m. The colonnade on the east consists of granite columns while the west side employs marble columns. From here on we arrive at the Medieval town. Nowadays only parts of the walls are still visible. We are now walking in the countryside along some lakes. After about a half kilometre we will reach the Patara lighthouse. Only the basement is left, so there is not much to see. We continue over forest roads to Gelemiş and pass the Horreum (Granary). This is an area with vegetation with bushes. There are many small trails and therefore it is not so easy to find our way, but if you just follow my gps track you will be OK. Getting closer to Gelemiş we pass olive groves. Just before Gelemiş we arrive on an asphalt road were we turn left. On this road there are a couple of hotels and pensions (In winter there is nobody to be seen....). After a little more than a kilometre we head left in the direction of the beach. This brings us to another viewpoint where we have a beautiful sight over the giant sand dunes and the sea. After the viewpoint we start our descent towards the sea.
The beach is a nesting area for Marine turtles. Therefore there are restrictions for visiting the beach during the months of May until September. (No entry between 8 pm and 8 am and no sun bathing in the nesting zone - see pictures at waypoint beach).
We walk almost two kilometres along the beach until we reach a beach pavilion. Here we go inland. We follow the road back to the parking lot where we left our car.
Some additional information:
The route is designed in a counter clockwise direction. Inverting the direction does not seem like a great idea. You will have to climb the giant sand dunes. A lot better to go downhill there!!!
Time spent: total = 6 hour 13 minutes of which moving = 2 hour 36 minutes
The track is easy from a technical point of view. Navigation can be a bit of a challenge in the bush forest between ancient Patara and Gelemiş.
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The theatre was built on the northern slope of the Kurşunlutepe Hill, which was on the southern edge of the ancient city of Patare. The semi-circular kollon (audience seating portion), which is the major element of the theatre, has a diameter of 80 meters and is supported by towere-like massive walls on both ends. The cavea had an etimated seating capacity of 6000 spectators in 38 rows of seats.