Xanthos Ruins

Lycian Way, Turkey.

Breakfast atop the Zinbad terrace finds us looking out over the nearby white walled mosque to the calm blue Mediterranean and the green hillsides beyond.

Azure tranquility and an enormous splendid fresh food breakfast, it’s a heady mix to start the day.

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Pam is up early as usual, scheming and dreaming in her industrious fashion. Eating breakfast I find we have a plan.

Dolmus to Kinik, walk about the Xanthos ruins, Dolmus back to Kaltan, Blog on like there is no tomorrow. Sounds do-able.

First things first, we have to find a more direct route up the steep streets to the bus station than the winding route down we followed to find the Zinbad.

Taking the helm I find a direct route with ease. Of course Gravity still has it’s omnipresent say and we have an early sweat going by the time we make the flat parking lot of the bus station.

Alighting from the dolmus in Kinik Pam hits the streets, turns left and starts marching.

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Doing my best to match her flat ground pace I follow in her wake and it is not until she pauses looking around the cliffs to the right just before the bridge crossing the Esen River that I ask her ‘do you know where you are going’ to which she replies ‘no, I just thought this would be the way’.

‘What the hell am I following you for’ I snort ‘and more importantly why do I always follow your random is the right way lead’?

Of course there are no answers to a rhetorical question.

Looking back up the road towards Kinik there is an area to the left of the main entry road where carnival ride equipment is being repaired and diagonally across this field I can see a road that can only lead towards the ruins.

‘Right then, it’s your turn to follow me, lets see where we end up’.

Turning left uphill at the road we are entering the ruins site within fifty meters.

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Having no idea of the scope or size of the Xanthos ruins I begin taking photos of little ruined buildings to the right of the road as it curves upwards. In search of better angles I climb inside the walled areas while Pam continues up the road with my Pacerpoles.

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Long grass hides gaps between the stones. Turning back to rejoin the road my right foot finds one of these deep hidden crevices, my arms flail for balance.

There is no stopping it I am going down.

Camera still in right hand I fall forwards pitching the camera slightly ahead in hope of it landing on soft grass rather than stones and catch my fall just before my face slams into the ground.

My right foot is still caught however my knee seems ok, whew. Seems other than a few crushed blades of grass no damage has been done.

Pam returns wondering what is taking me so long and I receive little sympathy ‘is the camera ok’?

A potential ‘Howie Owie’ averted, I am ok, the camera is still functioning fine.

Continuing up the road I realise that I have been a bit daft to even bother to try and take photos of the few low buildings we have passed. Xanthos is expansive with a huge very intact amphitheater and many excavated stones and columns to the left.

Pam goes off to buy tickets to the site from the cafe and we sit in the shade of a tree on some squared off stone blocks that were probably shaped thousands of years ago.

In addition to the amphitheater and columns to the left of the modern road to the right beyond the cafe lies a large flat huge stone paved Agora (gathering place) lined with excavated stones that leads to a Byzantine basilica.

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Up the hill a series of tombs awaits those more intrepid visitors willing to brave rough goat tracks. Atop the hill a Roman acropolis and a ruined Byzantine monastery will also demand our inspection.

This walled city built atop a cliff sided hill where one civilization has built upon the ruins of another has seen much bloodshed and horrific acts of barbarism throughout its history.

Whilst archeological finds date back as far as the eight century BC Xanthos enters historical records in 540BC with the first local holocaust. Under siege during the Persian invasion of Lycia rather than surrendering to the overwhelming invading forces citizens of Lycia chose to build a funeral pyre of their possessions and homes. Women and children were immolated in the fires as the men rushed out to die on the battlefield.

Only residents who were not in the town at that time survived.

The same ‘die on your feet rather than live on your knees approach’ was taken again in 42BC during the Roman civil war when surrounded by Brutus’s forces the holocaust pyres were built by the citizens again.

In an odd twist to warfare tactics Roman soldiers were paid a reward to keep Xanthos citizens alive with a reputed 150 people saved.

‘Twer ghosts to appear in broad daylight this place must surely ring with the screams of burning souls.

No evidence of the blood and pain remains on the white stones as we pace down the wide Agora. Turning left at the end we make our way up the hillside following narrow trails through the bushes towards a beautifully decorated tomb.

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Finding ourselves on the wrong side of the outer fortification walls has us searching for a breach to climb up and on.

After a bit of a struggle we make the Pillar Tomb area. As I take photos of the tombs and surrounds we are joined by a younger couple. A young woman from the USA and her male partner who is from Turkey are touring the country two up on a large capacity road-trail motorbike.

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I am extremely jealous of their mode of transportation and spend a futile conversation trying to convert Pam from two feet to two wheels as we climb narrow trails to the hilltop where the Byzantine Monastery ruins form a maze of walls, stones and deep holes.

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At the very peak of the hill is a communication tower, in search of an all encompassing shot of the Amphitheater and columns below we head further uphill.

By now the sky is all Jekyll and Hyde. Blue skies expand southwards whilst towards the northern slopes grey clouds gather in threatening communion.

It begins to rain just before we make the communications tower, big fat cold drops splash down. I am loving the brief cool down however Pam is seeking shelter and I guide her to the lee of the concrete structure.

A plain supporting guy wire that is clearly earthed has Pam terrified we will perish in a blaze of electrocuting sparks that might go close to matching the fiery souls of long ago.

Despite the oversize raindrops the shower scuds by quickly leaving fresh clean cool air in its wake. I seize the opportunity for great shots of the amphitheater from above and jamming my Pacerpoles into the slightly moistened earth add to my ‘Pacerpoles around the World’ collection.

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Pam is none to keen to walk the goat tracks back down between sodden bushes and we cast about for an easier return route.

On the opposite side of the hills to the main ruins area a red dirt road winds down the hill providing the easy route we seek. Other than the odd communication maintenance vehicle it is obvious that few people take this route and we are treated to sights of tombs we would not otherwise have seen.

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A big leaf munching tortoise bids us well as we pass.

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Turning left on the bitumen road at the base thunder cracks over the hills behind us as we curve back towards the Amphitheater.

‘Gotta get the lead out’ Pam yells over her shoulder as she streaks ahead on the flat road.

By the time we reach the Amphitheater region it is obvious that the storm is following the line of the hills and offers us no threat.

Leaving the road near the Xanthos Obelisk, a trilingual so called Rosetta Stone that bears inscriptions in Ancient Greek, Lycian and Milyan we look out over the excavated stones and columns all bearing archeological tags before making our way above the Amphitheater towards the Column of the Harpy’s where an old local man is lying down on the stones around the base.

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He sits up and poses as we near however does not speak to us as I take photos from all sides.

Pam and I climb about the Amphitheater before Pam wanders off in her own direction. She seems none to keen to join me as I climb beyond the top of the semicircular seating to the flat ruins beyond.

With no human subjects remaining I make use of resting goats and the blue sky to the south along with the storm clouds racing down the mountainside as secondary points of interest.

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As I make my way back down Pam is sitting on an ancient masoned stone block beside the road. She is all ruined out.

I drag her through the entrance arch into the stage area of the Amphitheater, we are getting our 5 Lira worth.

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Back in Kinik we have another coffee and cay in the cafe we were in yesterday before catching the dolmus back to Kalkan.

Our return timing is sublime as at the base of the stairs leading up towards the Zinbad hotel we run into Judy who is with an Australian woman named Kay.

Howard has got a little mobility back however Judy has been taking care of him during the day. They are keen to get out and about in the evening and we all agree to meet at a local cafe 5:30pm.

While most of Pam’s best laid morning plans have borne fruit there will be no blogging tonight.

PLL

Pam and Mick

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