Kekova, where history and nature are entwined, shelters incredible beauties. An easily accessible place where Blue Voyagers can feel confident about dropping anchor, Kekova exhibits unbelievable beauty that is an inseparable part of history. In reaching Kekova by s.ea, one can rent a small motorboat from Kas or Kale Çayagzi.
After departing Kas, you will sail past Uluburun and set a course for Kekova, a spot that is practically paradise. One first encounters Siçak Peninsula, where the ancient city of Aperlae is found. At the end of this peninsula are two islands, Toprak and Kara.
Kekova Adasi stretches out from here and it is because of this island that the surrounding region is called Kekova. It is also called Sunken City as the historical buildings on Kekova Adasi sank in the water as a result of various earthquakes. Passing between the islands and arriving at Kekova, the safest place to anchor is off the village of Uçagiz, which is a decent all-round harbor.
If you are arriving overland, you exit the Finike-Kas Highway where the signpost says Kekova whereby after driving 19 km., you arrive in the natural wonder which is the village of Ucagiz.
This is an area where history mingles with nature and todays lifestyle. There are a number of ancient cities situated very close to each to other here, such as Aperlae on the Sicak Quay, Simena, in the sunken city of Kaleköy, Theimussa, which is found on Ucagiz, and Istlada, which sits above Gökkaya Koyu. In addition to these cities along the coast, there is also Apollonia in Kiliçli, as well as the ancient city of Tyberissos, in Çevreli on the road two km. outside Uçagiz. Tyberissos towers 365 m. above sea level on a hill overlooking the plain of Tirmisin. At the foot of the mountain, and a little above the level of the plain, is an attractive glade in which are a dozen or so Lycian sarcophagi and a number of pigeon-hole tombs. By their inscriptions, they date back to Hellenistic and Roman times.
The main site is on the two summits of the hill. The one to the N is higher and was evidently the acropolis, while as for the Shill, at its Send, standing up to 1.5 m. high, is a small church or chapel, just over 6 m. long, which has replaced a Dorian temple. As usual, the majority of the tombs in Tyberissos are sarcophagi, but there are two rock tombs of house-type, both with inscriptions in Lycian. One of these is near the top of the hill, at the head of a gully leading from the SE, close to the plain of Tirmisin, and carries a relief of two figures, a male and a female, the style suggesting a date around 400 B.C.
From Çevreli, if you go towards Kapakli, you arrive at a place called
Enisdibi, about four km. down the road. If you walk about the E quadrant of this
field, that is, the side facing the sea, you will have the opportunity to see
the famous ancient city of Istlada. As the cities around here were small, a few
of them merged to be represented as one entity in the Lycian League.
For instance, Aperlae, Simena, Apollonia and lsinda were a part of this sympolity. You will reach the unbelievable beauty of Kekova just two km. down the road from cevreli, This road ends in Uçagiz, where you can rent a motorboat to take you out to the sunken city of Simena, on Kaleköy.
The village of Kale was established on top of the ancient city of Simena. Here, ancient history and contemporary life are interconnected. From inscriptions that have been found, we know that the history of Simena goes back to the 4th century B.C. If we go ashore via the jetty adjacent to the sarcophagus on the seashore and climb up the hill behind the houses, we reach the castle of Simena, which was used during the Middle Ages. Higher up, just below the castle wall, stood~ a stoa attached to a temple; remains of both buildings were noticed in former times, but all that is seen now are a few blocks built into a late wall and a fragment of an inscription bearng the name Callippus.
Inside the castle is a charming little theater, cut entirely from rock; it has only seven rows of seats and measures a mere 16 m. in diameter. It cannot have held much more than 300 spectators, a fair indication of the very modest size of the city. This is the smallest theater to be found throughout Lycia. There are rock tombs scattered about to the W of the theater. Above the rock tombs is a Roman wall built of ashlar blocks and located on the wall are late-period embrasures, thus giving one a simultaneous glimpse of three periods. On the shore are the ruins of public baths whose inscription is still legible. It reads, A gift to Emperor Titius presented by the people and council of Aperlae as well as by the other cities of the League.
To the N of the castle on the N summit of the hill are many sarcophagi. Looking out from the castle towards. Ucagiz, it becomes clear how beautiful and safe a natural harbor this really is. However, bathers need to be wary of sea urchins.
The actual shelter for yachts is Theimussa, or present day Ucagiz, which is a landlocked bay surrounded by green hills. There is an overland route that leads here. Though the ruins of the ancient city of Theimussa are located here, very little is known of its history. One inscription indicates that it goes back to the 4th century B.C. Here, you will come across the ruins of a necropolis, whereas on the coast of this village, you can also find a door with its frame still intact. Also, you will encounter ruins of a tower on top of a low-lying rocky outcrop. Right behind the quay are a pair of tombs. The oldest sarcophagus dates from the 4th century B.C. and is shaped like a house. Over it is a nude portrait of a young man. The inscription tells us that it belongs to one Kluwanimi. This work is Roman and a later addition to the sarcophagus. To the B, just above the sea are several sarcophagi which seem to have been stacked on top of each other. The majority of these tombs belong to either the Hellenistic or Roman Periods. The inscriptions on the tombs indicate that the owners were citizens of either Cyaenai or Myra. Just as Simena, Apollonia, Isinda and Aperlae formed a sympolity in Kaleköy, Myra and Cyaenai also formed a sympolity in Theimussa, whereas one of those cities represented the sympolity in the Lycian League.
At the E end of the site is a delightful little rockcut pier or landing, unlike anything else in all of Lycia. It is some nine m. long by nine m. wide. The rock walls are cut vertical and still show the chisel marks; the floor is leveled, but the seaward edge is only roughly shaped. At the E end are cuts in the floor which at present make shallow pools; their original purpose is obscure. To the rear is a gate leading through to a sort of sunken road which is little more than a natural cleft; above it on the landward side stands a tomb. The sill of the gate is about two m. off the ground, and it is not clear how it was approached; the sill is broken away, but the hinge holes and the bolt sockets are still to be seen. Also in the back wall is a small aperture like a window. There are other tombs above the gate and at the B end of the pier, the latter approached by steps; in both cases the lids are lying askew.
Giving its name to the whole area, this long island stretches four nautical miles before Kaleköy and is filled with historical ruins. At the SW end of the island is Tersane Koyu where yachts may approach. On the S side of the bay are traces of sunken shops whose rooms are discernable today. Leaving the jetty, one encounters the apse of a Byzantine church. Although the place is full of ruins, no excavations have been carried out on this island, so little is known about its history.
On the Iandward side of Kekova Adasi, one may see the ruins of a sunken city. Following the shore, we see that half of the houses are submerged and that the stairways descend into the water. The foundations of buildings and houses can also be seen in the sea.
Aperlae is located on Sicak Peninsula, near Sicak Quay. One can easily reach
here by renting a motorboat from either Kas or Ucagiz. If you are arriving
overland, you may reach here from Apollonia, which is located in Kiliçli.
Aperlaes history, which dates back to the 4th-Sth centuries B.C., is known
from coins bearing its name. Aperlae was the head of the Aperlite sympolity, of
which Simena, Isinda and Apollonia were also members, the four together
presumably carrying one vote in the League Assembly. How early this arrangement
was made is uncertain; Apollonia at least seems a very doubtful member in
pre-Roman times. Citizens of the three associated cities were called officially
in the inscriptions Aperlite from Simena, etc. And their own ethnics were
The fortification wall begins at the shoreline and is fortified with towers at regular intervals. This wall, with its rectangular and polygonal construction, dates back to Roman times. Other remains at Aperlae are all from the Byzantine and Ottoman Periods. The W 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 S reaches of the walls are of polygonal construction and in a bad state of repair. The side is reinforced with two towers and it is here that the main gate was located. Besides a church in the NW corner and a chapel in the SE corner, no other clearly defined edifices can be found. Outside the early wall, especially on its E side, are numerous tombs, nearly all sarcophagi with rounded crest and lid. Some of them stand between the early wall and the shore, confirming that this area belongs only to the later fortified city. Today, you will find that the quay and related structures of Aperlae are all submerged. Towards the W end, a pier projected outwards.