Exploring Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast
The southern coast of Turkey from west to east begins with a series of bays, clear blue water, interesting rock formations and sandy beaches
The southern coast of Turkey from west to east begins with a series of bays, clear blue water, interesting rock formations and sandy beaches. A number of resorts and hotels have been built there in recent years, but some care has been taken to not over build, or at least not yet.
Starting from Fethiye and Gocek on the western edge of the Turkish Riviera and continuing all the way to Iskenderun, you will find a fascinating coast. If you are taking one of the famous blue voyages, you will have a firsthand chance to see the remains of some of the oldest cultures that inhabited this furthest outpost of Central Asia – massive stone coffins and rock tombs from the Lycian period (fifth century B.C.). And you can get an impression of what it must have been like to be in Anatolia, actually in the world at a time when everything was still pristine. The many bays and inlets are great places to go ashore and eat, or you can do it on your boat: Swimming, snorkeling and fishing help pass the time as you unwind from your busy schedule at home.
If you aren’t interested in touring by boat, there is an airport now at Dalaman, where regularly scheduled flights as well as charters land and from which it is easy to reach this part of Turkey. Or if you enjoy camping, you’ll find a number of designated sites where you can bed down.
Fethiye is a typical town located at the head of a bay that hosts pine-covered islands. It has no real claim to fame except as a good place to have a great holiday. Traveling east, you pass by many Greco-Roman ruins that have mostly been neglected. Patara, Kalkan and Kas used to be inhabited, for the most part by Greeks, until World War I. Later Turks began to fill the empty spaces.
An interesting and different place is Demre, where St. Nicholas was a bishop in the Christian Church. St. Nicholas is celebrated in numerous countries as Father Christmas or Santa Claus. Every year at Christmas time, services are held in the church built over the tomb of St. Nicholas, with the encouragement of Turkish authorities in order to promote tourism.
Antalya is the largest city in the southwestern part of Turkey. It can be reached easily by air or sea. If you’re driving there from Bodrum, you’ll have a chance to see Pamukkale, a natural hot springs with so many minerals that limestone deposits have created pools and walls, in short, a magnificent sight.
The city of Antalya boasts a good museum and the nearby Fluted Minaret. But it’s the walled old city which goes down to the harbor that is fascinating. Here are traditional Turkish houses with overhanging upper stories. For those who would like to tour by boat, it’s easy to find one that will take you to see nearby waterfalls, caves and really good beaches. The Roman city of Aspendos, not too far from Antalya, is famous for its huge theater, the scene of stage productions ranging from folk dances to opera.
Again there are many cities along the south coast and traveling east, the next city of any size is Alanya, with its Red Tower that guards the approaches to the 820-foot-high rock on which the town is built.
From there on to Adana lies the Cilician plain and an industrialized portion of the country, thanks to its fertile soil and position as a crossroads of sea trade between Egypt and other parts of the Middle East and north through the Taurus Mountains to central Anatolia. Adana, Mersin and Iskenderun have a charm of their own.