Gürses – Demre – Belören
If the road to the left-up is to be taken at the Lycia junction before the Andriake settlement, the pathway passing through the Sura ancient city, ascends on a canyon with an ancient stepped entry after Sura. The pathway going up from the valley joins the asphalt road and advances parallel to Gürses settlement and occasionally passes through bushes and thorn patches. The pathway advancing through cisterns and ancient ruins until the city walls above the Myra ancient city, leads to the front of Myra by descending down from the city walls.
The pathway advancing to the right (sea side) before Andriake, passes by The Church of St. Nicholaos after passing by Andriake settlement and advancing along the asphalt road until Demre city center and joins the other pathway ascending in front of Myra. If advanced to the north from this point in Demre district, Demre stream is crossed over with a bridge. At the exit of the bridge, the Lycia pathway diverges again. The north route to the left, climbs at the slope of the valley after departing from the asphalt road. The climb continues until the Belören settlement after advancing along the asphalt road going through a couple of houses after the initial climb. At the end of Belören settlement, it advances upwards not from the dirt road but from the adjacent pathway. If advanced a few kilometers in the south route from the asphalt road advancing to the right at the end of the bridge, one reaches Upper Beymelek settlement with a pathway 4-5 kms long as described in section no ……. .
For those to take the north route after Demre, along the pathway passing by many cities such as Belören, Zeytin and Alakilise etc., there is no potable water source nor drinking water except the well until Finike which is in a few days distance. For those hikers to take this route, they need to carry at least 2 days of drinking water with them. As it can be seen on the section no ….. , the north route passes over high altitude mountains and the path disappears due to snow between December and March. Therefore, the south route can be preferred in winter months.
Myra, west of Antalya gulf, is in the south of the Teke peninsula. The city is established on the delta formed by the alluvial deposit carried by the Myros (Demra) Stream to the south. The alluvial deposit brought by the stream has also brought an end to the city. Excavations and geomorphological researches reveal the presence of plenty of ruins under modern Demre. The head of the excavations Prof. Dr. Nevzat ÇEVİK states that there is great underlying city covered with alluvium just like the city of Pompei covered with lava.
Myra city history dates back to 3rd century B.C. just like the Lycia history. The name of the city is thought to have been derived from the myrtle plant (commiphora myrrha) from which the famous Myra (Myrrh) oil is produced. Myrtle is related to be the plant from whose bark the goddess Adonis was born. The myrrh oil sanctification and storage chambers, myrrh oil workshops and myrrh oil bottles extracted with the Myra excavations and the flora of the city bestowed with myrtle trees reflect the origins of the name.
The legend has it that, Myrrha the daughter of the Cyprus king Kinyras, unwittingly falls in love with his father upon the punishment of the goddess and as she went to bed with her father and was about to be killed by her father for that matter, she was saved by the gods who came to the rescue and she was saved by being turned into a myrtle plant. But, as she was pregnant, she gave birth to Adonis through its barks.
Myra is a member of the 6 big cities of the Lycian League that was established in the Hellenistic period and thanks to this specialty, it is the only city in Middle Lycia which has 3 vote rights altogether. The city has been amongst the cities of Patara, Tlos, Xanthos which had the metropolis title during the early years of the 1st century. It prevailed the importance it gained in the Hellenistic period throughout the imperial period. Saint Paulus visited Lycia and stopped by Myra in his 3rd missionary travel during the years of 53-57. The earthquakes that occurred during the years 141 and 240 has shown its effect on Myra as it did on the other Lycian cities. Myra is the most known and the most important city of Lycia since the birth of Christianism as it is the place where St. Nicholaos developed and disseminated his doctrines and spent his entire life. During the reign of Theodosius II between the years 408-450, Myra was the spiritual and administrative capital of Lycia. And the metropolitan of the region was in Myra. The coastal town of Myra, as Myra was a metropolis, Andriake port have developed by means of pilgrims that had increased after the 5th century. Myra was also effected by the earthquake in 529 and the great plague in 542. The commodity transaction from the mountainside to the coastal towns almost ceased due to the precautions taken against the plague. The Arabian raids from the midst of 7th century, the frequent overflows of Myros stream, and as a result of this, being earthed up, earthquakes caused the city to lose its importance and to be partially abandoned. The city of Myra was surrounded east and westward by necropolises along the roads leading to the city. According to the detections of the Chairmanship of the Excavations, the expansion of the settlement of the city of Myra is an 1800 m of semi-circle from the amphitheater. Myra acropolis is on the hill called Kule Tepe. The acropolis can be reached by using the steps on the south slope. The road consisting mainly of ancient steps advances to the acropolis by going round the slope. According to the ruins on the surface, the acropolis had been in use from the 5th century B.C. to the Byzantium period. There are Byzantium period renovations and additions made to the city walls that date back to the Hellenistic period. Due to the Arabian raid threats, the second line of city walls were built in this period. There is one church each in İç Kale (The Keep) and the Acropolis. The most magnificent structures of Myra are the rock-cut tombs. The rock-cut tombs with the front elevations imitating the 5-4th century B.C. Myra wooden architecture, are significant representatives of Lycia Classical Age culture. The necropolis area divided into three regions are in harmony with all its spiritual and civil architecture. There are passages and rock steps that provide access to the tombs from the acropolis and the places of settlement. There are 104 tombs that have been detected. 26 of the tombs have inscriptions and 13 of these are in Lycian and 10 are in Greek. The chambers of the tombs are usually single. 4 tombs possess more than one chamber. There are 23 embossments, 10 of which provide information regarding the burial traditions and characteristics.
GAVUR YOLU (ROAD)
It’s the pathway from Demre Valley to Trysa which is on the north slope of Demre Stream Valley. Field stone paved and 2,5m wide ancient road is Roman Period dated and has been supported with retaining walls.
DANABAŞLAR KULESİ (TOWER)
Only the ruins of the third level of the tower to the north of Demre Stream and which is thought to be of three levels and 8x10m of size, remains. Serving as a watch tower, the structure is in a spot overlooking both the ancient road and the whole of the valley up to the sea. There is a rock cut tomb on the south front.
The Myra Amphitheatre is of Hellenistic-Roman type and is the Lycia’s biggest amphitheater with a capacity of 11500 people. The horseshoe shape cavea has 29 seating rows at the bottom and 9 at the top. Eagles, Mithras, Ganymedes, medusas, masks and girlandok are engraved on friezes of the 3 level stage building. The water pipes that can be seen on one of the doors of the stage building suggest that there may have been water shows staged in the theatre. The vaults bearing the seating rows have been organized for the entry and exits. “Bring luck on the city and triumph forever” is inscribed in front of the figure of Nike. There is no document with regard to the first year of construction of the amphitheater. There were renovations made after the 141 earthquake and in the first quarter of the 3rd century A.C. The water requirement of the ancient city of Myra was supplied by Dereağzı by means of the 4th century B.C. dated water canal stretching along Demre Valley and by the cisterns that can especially be seen in Andriake. The structure located at the springs of the Andriakos Stream north of the Çayağzı crossroad dates back to 2nd and early 3rd century A.C. This area is specified as the area of holy springs. Whether the structure is a bath or a Nymphanion will be clarified after the completion of the excavations. Yet, according to the present findings, it is thought to have been used as a thermal facility in that period due to the springs of the sulphuruous water of Andriakos stream that was used to heal skin diseases.
GÜRSES SİVRİBİLEN HILL SETTLEMENT AREA
In the Gürses village at a 3km distance from Demre, it is possible to observe the marks of the continuity of settlement stretching from Classical Age to Byzantium Period around Sivribilen Hill which is en Kaş Demre route, south of Kaş-Demre main road. Out of the Lycian type sarcophagi on the west and east slopes, especially the sarcophagus located on the west slope which has an impressive outlook and a strong board, casing and gable type roof draws attention.
There is a practically square shaped chapel that up to 1-1,5 of which had survived until today and the body part of which was destroyed, and right next to it, ruins of a structure directly carved into the bedrock, a great cistern and a sarcophagus located at the southeast end of the Sivribilen Hill. The chapel has been constructed with regional stone material and lime mortar and the niches on the east wall and the entrance door on the west side can partially be seen. There is a structure with a single room carved into the bedrock 3-4 meters southwest of this chapel. The 2 meters tall south wall of the structure carved into the bedrock still stands and the entrance on this side and the two niches on the inner surface of the wall along with a round dent on the floor suggest that this structure may have been used as a religious functioning structure. To the east of the structure, there is a great cistern made from carving into the bed rock. The sarcophagus right in the west of the structure has been moved from its original location and slid downwards.
GÜRSES KOCAGEDİK HILL SETTLEMENT AREA
In the Gürses village at a 3km distance from Demre, it is possible to observe the marks of the continuity of settlement stretching from Classical Age to Byzantium Period around 750m high Kocagedik Hill which is en Kaş Demre route, north of Çakalbayat Neighborhood and which consists of an area mainly rocky and maquis shrubland. The hill, being surrounded by city walls for protection, possesses walls which one can observe the remarks of the stone lattice work systems establishing continuity from the 5th century B.C. with complex structure groups consisting of rooms around the yard. In addition, the venues mainly encountered in Lycian castle settlement in this area where tall cisterns with high water holding capacity exist, give the impression of an existence of a seigniory castle. The structure walls amongst the heavy vegetation can hardly be noticed. Apart from the Lycian rock cut tombs situated in a hardly accessible spot on the slopes of the hill, only survivor of the remnants of a glorious structure, its door attracts attention. The rock cut tomb is of significance as it signifies that the settlement dates further back than the Roman Period.
The necropolis of the settlement is situated on the plain area south of Kocagedik Hill. All of the tombs in this are of sarcophagus type. Basic shape tombs carved into the bedrock and the domestic type Lycia rock cut tombs are in the acropolis of the settlement which is on the slopes of Kocagedik Hill. The sarcophagi that represent the main typological characteristics of Lycia region consist of a base, casing and a gable cover. The sarcophagi carrying the characteristics of the 5-4th century B.C. possess effigies and animal figures. There are pillar tombs and altars scattered around the area apart from the sarcophagi. There is a structure carrying the characteristics of the Hellenistic Period and that is of square shape and made of quite qualified bossage cut stones, and the ruins of structures around this structure and the detention dents that belong to the workshops around, situated on the southwest slopes of Orta Tepe (Mid Hill) west of Kocagedik Hill. Lycian type sarcophagi that are common throughout the region are also present in this area.
To the southeast of Kocagedik Hill, there are farm settlements of agricultural purposes and an area arranged with terrace walls on the hill near the existing shepherd’s house. Towards the slopes of the hill where the farm settlement is situated, there is a Lycian type sarcophagus with tits cover tipped over.
It is a small and typical Lycia settlement of Myra that can be reached after the ancient city of Sura on the way from Demre to Kaş. A castle, terrace structures on the south slopes of the castle, necropolises on the plains starting from the slope of the hill and city walls, structure ruins, cisterns, tombs, workshop ruins on the farming terraces can be found on a small hill. However, due to the heavy vegetation and the rocky topography of the region, it becomes harder to identify and detect the structures. The region containing Kemerikaklık and Kocaorman, Akköristan Hill locality, as being on a higher altitude than the other parts of the city, is the acropolis of the settlement. This spot overlooks Demre Valley and Myra. The city walls, structural walls of the tower and the entrance gates of the area surrounded by protective walls are still standing. Olive grinding vats in the acropolis and the complex structure groups consisting of rooms around the yard exhibit a pinnacle farming settlement characteristics.
The acropolis (castle) with the Classical Age outset, have been used until the Byzantium period. There are houses some of whose walls have been built from carving into the bedrock on the south slopes of the Acropolis. Amongst these houses the one with the cistern inside, stairs going up and the niches is the most interesting. The residential area is surrounded with necropolises in the south and east. The city is densely populated with sarcophagi. Some of the sarcophagi exhibiting the general topological characteristics of the Lycian Region, possess effigies and animal figures. Apart from the sarcophagi, there are also scarce number of triangular gabled domestic type rock cut tombs. Slopes and plains were used as farming fields and the workshops were used for manufacturing vine and olive oil. The most important remnant in Kocaorman locality is the Byzantium chapel with a single room located in the east-west direction.
Trysa is south of the plateu near the Davazlar Village Gölbaşı Neighbourhood on Kaş-Demre main road. On the southeast direction, Myros Valley is accessible. No trace can be found in the historical sources with regard to the name of this ancient city. The city is only known with the epigraphs and the Lycian League coins.
As a settlement of Classical Age Lycia, the city is famous with Heroon who moved from Vienna in 1882-1883. The city is partially terraced and is only surrounded by the raggedly laid city walls built in 5th century B.C. Only the north and west side of the walls are still standing. Today, apart from this wall in Trysa, there are walls of Heroon, ruins of the temple and many sarcophagi. The temple at the west end is the only structure whose qualifications could be identified. There are pieces of an epigraph honoring a priest who served Zeus and Helios. According to the epigraph, the temple belongs to one or both of these gods.
Besides, all the ruins apart from the cisterns are basically sarcophagi. Most of the sarcophagi are plain, or have tops with effigies or animal figures, but one of them well ornamented. There are two Grogon heads with a lion in between is one side of its cover. This sarcophagus is now in İstanbul Archeology Museum. Trysa’s greatest structure is a Heroon. This structure has a sarcophagus cut from rock present in the 18m2 indoor area at the northeast end of the city. The embossments on it are in exhibition in Vienna Art Museum now. There is a Lycia Sarcophagus and other tombs below the terraces of Heroon.