- Category: route
Kekova, a spot that is like heaven on earth. One first encounters the Sicak Peninsula at the end of which is two islands: Toprakada and Karaada. Kekova Island stretches out from here and it is because of this island that the whole area is called Kekova. Passing among the islands and arriving at Kekova, the safest anchorage is Üçagiz, which is a good, all-round harbor. Other places may be used for short periods during visits. At Kekova, history and nature have merged and become inseparable. Such ancient cities are Aperlai, Kekova, Simena, and Theimussa are to be found in the vicinity.
The name "Kekova" is Turkish for "plain of thyme" and describes the area of and around the ancient Lycian sunken city of Simena (partially submerged by several earthquakes in the 2nd century A.D. A charming mix of ancient, medieval and modern history makes the Kekova area interesting as well as beautiful. In ancient times Simena was a small fishing village, later a Crusaders’ outpost of the Knights of St. John and now the sleepy fishing village of Kale.
Aperlai: Aperlai is located on the Sicak Peninsula, near the Sicak jetty. A Lycian city, Aperlai's history is known from coins bearing its name that have been discovered and goes back to the 4th or 5th centuries BC Aperlai was the head of the Lycian Confederacy, of which Simena and Apollonia were also members. The city walls begin at the seashore and are fortified with towers at intervals. These walls, with their rectangular and polygonal construction, are from Roman times: Other remains at Aperlai are all from the Byzantine and later periods. The western reaches of the wall are of rectangular construction. There are three gates in this wall, two of which have a plain and the third a blind archway. The southern reaches of the walls are of polygonal construction and in a bad state of repair. This side is reinforced with two towers and it is here that the main gate was located. Outside the walls are typical Lycian sarcophagi from Roman times.
From inscriptions that have been found, we know that the history of the ancient city of Simena goes back to the 4th century BC. If we go ashore via the jetty next to the sarcophagus on the seashore and climb the hill behind the houses, we reach the castle of Simena.
This castle was used during the middle Ages. In the medieval walls of the inner keep are a few blocks of all that remains of an ancient temple. Inside the castle is a small natural theater carved into the rock. This is the smallest of the theaters among the cities of Lycia. West of the theater there are rock tombs here and there. Above the rock tombs is a Roman wall built of dressed stone and located on the wall are late period embrasures thus giving us a glimpse of three eras simultaneously. On the shore are the ruins of public baths whose inscription is still legible and reads "A gift to the emperor Titus made by the people and council of Aperlai as well as by the other cities of the confederation." Looking from the castle towards Üçagiz it becomes clear how beautiful and safe a natural harbor really is. Simena (or Kaleköy, its name today) is only a temporary shelter however. The actual shelter for yachts is Theimussa (Üçagiz), a landlocked bay surrounded by green hills. There is a road overland that leads here. The ruins of the ancient city of Theimussa are located here. Very little is known about the history of the city however. One inscription indicates that its history goes back to the 4’Th century BC. You can see mostly the ruins of a necropolis here and no city walls or other major structures have been encountered. The oldest sarcophagus is from the 4th century BC and is shaped like a house. Over it is the nude portrait of a young man. The inscription tells us that it belongs to "Kiuwanimiye". The work is Roman and a later addition to the sarcophagus.
You may reach Kekova overland from Demre. After leaving Kekova we pass Kiseli Island and Asirli Island and come to Gökkaya Harbor. Gökkaya is a beautiful bay and a fine harbor. On the way is a big sea cave that was used at one time by pirates. From here you come to Çayagzi, also called Kokar Bay, alongside of which are the ruins of Andraki. There are restaurants and souvenir shops here. From here, you may take a car to Myra, the city of St. Nicholas, which is quite close. This is also a place from which one may visit other Lycian cities such as Isinda at Belenli, Apollonia at Kilinçli, and Istlada at Kapakli, Kyaenai at Yavu, and Trysa and Sura at Gölbasi.