Heart of the "Land of Light"
Kaş ( antphellos) – Kalkan – Patara – Gömbe – Meis (Castellorizo-Megisti)
Kaş (which means eyebrow) is one of the most beautiful little towns on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. It is located on the southern tip of the Teke peninsula (AncientLycia, oncecalled the ‘Land of Light’) which stretches between Antalya and Fethiye, directly opposite the Greek island, Meis.
Most of Lycia is in the Toros mountains, some peaks are over 3000m high and topped with snow until May. The southern part of the peninsula is characterised by a sharp range of lime stone mountains through which various rivers cut their way down to the Mediterranean Sea.
The lowlands and great alluvial deltas enjoy a Mediterranean climate with mild winters, and hot, dry summers. Above a height of 1000 m cedar and juniper forests prosper where as lower down the hills are mostly covered by pine and oak. Along the coastline with its pebble and sand beaches one finds a great variety of native plants and animals.
Kaş can be reached via two international airports, Antalya (about 210 km) and Dalaman (160 km) or by domestic coach services from all major Turkish cities. From the airports you will either be transferred by your tour operator or continue by bus, dolmuş, taxi or rent a car.
History of Lycia
Lycia is one of the earliest Mediterranean civilizations dating back to before 3000 B.C. Artifacts collected during surveys around Elmalı and other major centres indicate that the Teke peninsula was populated since the Calcolithic and Bronze Ages. The Egyptian shipwreck found at the Cape of Uluburun (near Kaş) of which a copy has been built and exhibitedin Turkey and abroad, provides evidence that Lycia was not only a natural port but had intensive trade relations with other countries in the Mediterranean.The wreck is 3350 years old and is the oldest in tact wreck in the world. Another copy was built and sunk in the Kaş bay area (the first aqua.arch.park worldwide) which is a wonderful dive experience. From mid-6th century B.C. the Akhamenids (Persians) ruled over the entire Anatolian peninsula influencing Lycian art. Alexander the Great launched a military campaign to conquer Asia and met very little resistance in Lycia, putting an end to Persian rule. His death was followed by an epoch of successors, the Diadokhs, and later Syrian dominance until the Treaty of Apameia left Lycia under the control of Rhodes and Rome.
In the early 2nd century B.C. the Lycian League (oneof the earliest democratic polities) was founded and all Lycian cities united under a federative state. Culture and economy flourished until the 1st century B.C. After the ‘Mithridatic.
Wars’ ended Rome’s authority was reinforced but the area was troubled by pirates and had to be rescued by Roman force. Brutus raided the capital Xanthos which was later rebuilt by Augustus, Trajan and Hadrian under whose reign the region went through a time of revival.
In141A.D.Lyciawashitbyagreatearthquakeand was again given the support from Rome and rich sponsors to be reconstructed from scratch. After a second big earthquake about 100 years later support was not forthcoming and the Roman influence declined. The period after the Romans is called ‘Dark Ages’ and so far little is known about these centuries. It seems that, even before the region became Anatolia (Land of the Turks), nomadic Turkish tribes arrived in Lycia. The Yörüks who used to live in special tents and migrate according to the season and the needs of their herds have populated Lycia through the Ottoman Times until now. After Atatürk founded the modern Turkish Republic and a population exchange with Greece took place Turks from others parts of the country settled here and the cities slowly grew again. Kaş as of today has about 7000 inhabitants, among them a few hundred foreigners who fell in love with her beauty and settledin the town, her adjacent villages or on the peninsula. Kaş has become a modern town and mainly lives on Tourism and construction. The descendents of the Yörüks however still follow the centuries old cycle of nomadic migration, bringing their goat flocks to different altitudes at different times of the year and working their fields and orchards in the highlands during the summer.
Strolling through Kaş
Coming into Kaş from Antalya the view down on the town, the peninsula, the bay of Limanağzı, the Greek island ofMeis,İnce and Ulu Burun is magnificent. The modern main street with a new mosque, shops and little eateries leads right down to the marina. Turning back one sees caves and rock graves (5th century B.C), the remains of Antiphellos (or Habesos as it was called by the Lycians) which lies buried under Kaş. On the sea front there are still a few sarcophagi left. Most of them were reused for other purposes; some are now exhibited in the local tea garden. In the little harbour fishing boats and elegant yachts are moored. On the square with the statue of Atatürk life is bustling with shops, bars and restaurants. The square is the centre of the old, picturesque town and alleys rise up the hills. The most famous, Uzun Çarşı, paved with lime stone, harbours nice little shops and leads up to Kaş’s landmark, the lion sarcophagus (4th century B.C.). Little alley ways branch left and right with old houses, more garden restaurants and an abundance of flowers. Further up and turning right behind the lion sarcophagus there are more good places to eat and enjoy a view over the marina onto the sea.
Turning into the road to the peninsula which stretches about 6 km out to the West one passes a Hellenisticassemblyhall,smallpensionsattherockysea sideandthehospital.TheruinsofAntiphellosaremostly buried under the cliff around the Hellenistic theatre embedded in an olive grove. It has 26 seating rows and no stage building, thus the sunset view from there is magnificent. Behind the theatre are a Lycian necropolis withaweightymonolithicgrave(4thcenturyB.C.)anda frieze with dancing girls.
On the Çukurbağ peninsula one still finds herds of goats, beehives and a multitude of wild flowers. Some fine hotels and pensions are scattered near the crystal clear, rocky shore. In season a minibus service runs around the peninsula every half hour.
Strolling up the eastern hill from Atatürk Square one passes a restaurant located in front of a huge rock grave, some shops, bars and more restaurants and will arrive in a section of town which houses most of the hotels and pensions of Kaş. Most of them have pools, some have their own beach facilities and there are two public beaches with sun beds and umbrellas in the Bistros at Little Pebble Beach (Küçük Çakıl).
Where To Stay
Kaş is not on the map of mass tourism. You will not find big,all-inclusive hotels but a greatvariety of lodgings. Right on the shore there are camping facilities with a beach and a little restaurant and wooden huts to let.
There is a great choice of small, usually family run pensions (like B&B accommodation) on the shoreline and in town. Some have their own stretch of rocky beaches. Small but beautiful hotels can be found on the quiet peninsula (bus service every 30minutes during the season) and in Kaş as well, offering normal to high standards for every taste.
There are noreally big hotels in Kaş but some do have more than 100 beds and big gardens around, all of them at the shore. Most pensions and hotels have pools, bars, roof-top restaurants and offer various entertainments and activities.
Many hotels in Kaş are in the list of selected hotels in Europe.
Wine and dine, night life
Turks love to eat Mediterranean food: salads, vegetables, fish, meat, fruits and sweets. The traditional alcoholic drinkis Rakı but wine and beer have also become popular. Some restaurants are famous for their meze (delicious cold and hot starters), some for fish others for natural foods or Ottoman recipes. Kaş harbours quite a variety of restaurants for every taste and budget. Most of them are outdoors, near the marina or in lush little gardens where one eats under fruit trees and moonlight. These days quite a few places serve excellent international cuisine, French, Italian, Chinese, German, Thai, Indian.
Apart from restaurants one finds numerous coffee shops, snack bars and fast food places in town and on the beaches serving lunch and dinner and fresh fruit juices. Some places are open 24 hours.
Turks also love tea gardens, where people sit under shady trees and chat, read the newspapers and have the famous Turkish tea and snacks.
Local specialties and natural foods are derived from the fertile soils and produced locally. The area is famous for its sesame paste, syrups, spices, herbs, olive oil, and jams.
At night and after a long and enjoyable dinner Kaş offers quite a few bars, some overlooking the marina, some on the main square near the marina and others in the little side streets and alleys or hidden in beautiful gardens. The music played ranges from Turkish folksongs and live music performances to international pop music. During the summer Kaş is up and about until long after midnight, sauntering, shopping, chatting, drinking or dancing.
Apart from four supermarkets and numerous small shops which are mostly open until midnight shopping in Kaş is aleisurely and enjoyable pastime. Shop owners are friendly and reserved and may offer you a tea. The main shopping street for gifts is Uzun Çarşı where one finds quite a variety of small but exquisite shops offering a selection of unique Turkish products. But lately shops have croppedup all around Kaş and lots of different things can also be found on the weekly Friday market.
Antiques, antique or new copperware items, inlaid wood used for backgammon sets, furniture or boxes, antique and modern glassware and ceramics have a long artistic tradition in Turkey. Gold and silver jewellery in impressive designs (or made for you) as well as antique and newer carpets and kilims are available. Turkish leather goods are exported world wide and one can have leather items custom-made to one’s own design. The latest summer fashion is available as well as tailors who will sew your favourite summer garment for you in a short time. Hand-woven textiles and fine embroidery is an art still practised in and around Kaş.
There is a lively art scene (ceramics, photography, painting, music, dancing) offering courses and staging exhibits. Local specialties and delicacies reflect the flora of Lycia:halva, Turkishdelight,dried fruits and vegetables, carob and grape syrups, nuts, olive and essential oils, herbs and spices, natural soaps.
The waterfront of Kaş is mostly rocky which keeps the sea unusually clean. People with skin irritations who swim here often report improvement after a few days of swimming. ApartfromJanuary-April water temperatures are over 20˚ C. There are a few sandy patches in Limanağzı(a short boattrip or walk from Kaş) where three restaurants provide free sun beds and umbrellas to create a very leisurely day out. In Kaş two beach restaurants at Küçük Çakıl (Little Pebble Beach with some coldcurrents) also offer sun beds and umbrellas as well as backgammon boards and free internet.
About 1 km further on and to be reached by dolmuş or a short walk lies Büyük Çakıl (Big Pebble Beach) offering the same amenities. İnce Boğaz out on the way to the peninsula has beaches to the open sea and to the inland sea. Akçagerme Beach, which is 3 km away from thetown,is preferred by families with children,due to its water slide.
On the way to Kalkan are some public beaches equipped with food, shade and sun beds and further away is one of the most beautiful white sandy beaches, Kaputaş (reached by a long staircase). Seyret Çakıl Beach, again on the way to Kalkan, is a remote pebble beach.