Patara is a nature reserve, an ancient ruined city and a small village with the official name Gelemiş, in Lycia, Turkey. Patara is best known as the birthplace of St. Nicholas. With 8 km (5.0 mi) of endless fine sandy beach pouring into a bright blue sea and a great archaeological site in the middle of a dune landscape, Patara is well worth a visit.
The oldest settlement findings go back to the 7th century BC. The strategically good location at the mouth of the Xanthos River ensured steady growth. In addition, Patara was the seat of an oracle of Apollo, which in ancient times competed with oracles in Delphi or Didyma. Here they worked with the Apollo Oracle in Delos. Only in the winter months, when the gods were silent in Delos, was an oracle here. No later than the 4th century BC. the city also gained military importance when the Persians expanded the place as a sea base. When in 334 B.C. Alexander the Great advanced, the city was surrendered without a fight. From then on, the city played a decisive role in the Lycian city union. Patara was one of the first port cities to have a lighthouse. When the Romans founded the province "Lycia et Pamphylia", Patara became in 42 BC. provincial capital. In the 3rd century AD. Saint Nicholas was born and is believed to have performed some of his early deeds here. But Patara always had to struggle with dunes and the Xanthos River. That battle was lost in the 14th century and the place was abandoned. All that remains is the small town of Gelemiş. In 1988 environmental associations, archaeologists and the tourism industry discovered the place almost simultaneously. A building ban was imposed by Ankara, only what had already been built was allowed to remain. The beach was declared a protection zone for the loggerhead sea turtle and its use was clearly regulated. Since then, the archaeological zone has been excavated with sensational findings time and again, such as the lighthouse of Patara in 2004. The residents of Gelemiş have adapted and converted their houses into pensions and hotels. There are around 1500 beds available for 900 inhabitants.
Take the bus from a connection between Fethiye and Kaş. If you specify the destination Patara when buying your ticket you will receive a discount and will be let off the bus at the road exit to Patara. There is usually a dolmuş here that brings you into the village. In an emergency, a quick phone call to a guesthouse is enough to be picked up from here. There are also direct Dolmuş connections with Kalkan, Kaş and Fethiye that leave you in the village center, some 3 km (1.9 mi) or 30 minutes on foot from the beach. Buses stop early so make sure to take precautions to not be left stranded here in case you are doing a day trip. Taxis to Fethiye cost around 300-350 TL and can be found near the entrance to the beach.
There is a bus from Kaş Otogar which goes to the beach and archeological site directly and runs at 8:05, 9:15, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30 and from 12:00 every 40 minutes till 16:40, 17:15, 17:45, 18:15, 19:00, 20:00, 21:30, 22:30.
Take the D400 from/to Fethiye to/from Antalya. Between Kınık and Kalkan leave the main road in the direction of Patara or Gelemiş. After 2 km (1.2 mi) you will reach the village center, where all the accommodation and restaurants can be found. After another 2 km (1.2 mi) south you will reach the archaeological site and the beach. Parking is easily available in Gelemiş, the archaeological site and near the beach.
The Lycian Way bypasses the western end of Patara beach on its approach to Letoon from Pydnai, but a side trail, 16 km (9.9 mi)-long, connects the ancient city with the section between İslamlar and Akbel on the main trail, with a loop at the eastern edge of Patara beach.
The beach, the archaeological site and the village practically merge into one another. The beach alone is 8 km (5.0 mi) long and the ancient port stretches 2 km (1.2 mi) inland. The main road is mainly flat with at most gentle slopes.
Since it is only a 30-minute walk from Gelemiş to the beach you should not miss walking this path as it leads through the middle of the archaeological site. You also have the opportunity to visit the outer parts of the beach, which you will probably have all to yourself.
Those who stay in a guesthouse in Gelemiş usually have access to a free travel service to the bus stop on the D400 and to the beach.
Parking is available in Gelemiş, on the beach, on the archaeological site and at the junction from the D400 towards Patara where you'll also find a gas station. On the beach itself and in the ruins you can only get around on foot.
- 1 Patara Beach (Patara Plajı). 8 km (5.0 mi) of dreamlike sandy beach, some up to 400 meters wide, pour into blue seawater. The beach is shared with loggerhead sea turtles but the laying areas are clearly defined and with the length and width of the beach there is enough space for both humans and turtles, especially since there are only about 1500 bathers here even in the high season. These are mostly concentrated directly on the beach section from the access road from Gelemiş. There is a beach café and a parasol or sunbed rental but it doesn't get really crowded there either. If you are looking for more peace and quiet, you should visit the northern part (Kumluova Plajı). Not only is it quieter there, the dune landscape has a lot more to offer.
- 2 Archaeological ruins (Patara). Apr-Oct 08:30-18:30 Nov-Mar 08:00-17:00. 40 TL.
- 3 City gate (Mettius Modestus Triumphal Arch). This imposing triumphal arch with an arch width of up to 3.6 m (12 ft) is one of the best preserved from antiquity. It is believed that this was the central city gate. Remnants of the city wall were found on the sides, but no paved road has yet been found. The triumphal arch was built in the name of Trebonius Proculus Mettius Modestus around 100 BC, the governor of the Roman province of Lycia-Pamphylia. Six busts of the governor's family used to be seen on each side of the arch.
- 4 Lighthouse. Patara quickly became famous for having a lighthouse in ancient times. For a long time it was only known from ancient sources until the foundations of the lighthouse were discovered in 2004 under a sand dune. 4,000 truckloads of sand allegedly had to be removed to expose the foundation and some stones of the lighthouse with lettering that enabled identification.
- 5 Council house (Bouleuterion). The council house in Patara was the official meeting house of the Lycian League of Cities for over 500 years. This is where representatives of over twenty cities such as Xanthos, Tlos or Myra met. Built in the 1st century AD., it's **the oldest democratic parliament building in the world**. The 43 meter long and 30 meter wide building was excavated as early as 1991. 400 MPs once assembled here. Extensive restoration work began in 2010 and costed about 7.5 million TIL. The work was completed in 2012.
- 6 Theater. Is very well preserved and is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Lycia. It originally dates from the 3rd century BC. In the 2nd century AD, the theater was extensively revised under Emperor Hadrian. The stage house dates from this time. The auditorium was extended to fit 15,000 people. A sun sail and a small theater temple were also part of the renovation work. In AD 141 the theater was badly damaged by an earthquake but Opramoas, a rich donor from Rhodiapolis gave the money for repairs. In the 3rd century AD this theater was finally converted into an arena. The excavation began in 2002 and the theater has been completely cleared of sand since then.
- 7 Roman baths.
- 8 Corinthian temple (Roman Ante Temple).
- 9 Vespasian bath.
- 10 Colonnaded street (Stoa).
- 11 Cistern.
- 12 Necropolis.
- 13 Granary.
- 14 Acropolis.
- 15 Aqueduct.
- 16 Basilica.
- City walls.
- Bathe on the beach.
- Hike in the ruin and natural park areas.
- Horse riding.
Due to the structural regulations imposed by the archaeological and environmental protection zone, large hotel buildings have not yet been permitted. Small hotels and pensions are common and you'll have no problem finding lodging here.
There are clear guidelines for using the beach and protecting the loggerhead sea turtles:
- It is forbidden to enter the restricted areas for the turtles to lay eggs. If these are not available, you should avoid sections of the beach that are more than 5 meters away from the shoreline.
- You should absolutely observe the opening times of the beach. (In summer 8:00 to 19:30 and in winter 8:00. to 17:30)
- Creating any sources of light behind the beach is disastrous. The newly hatched turtles crawl to the brightest light source (usually the reflected moonlight in the water). If a campfire or car headlights look brighter, they crawl in that direction and dry up and die.
- It is forbidden to touch newly hatched turtles.
|Routes through Patara|
|Marmaris ← Kınık ←||W E||→ Kalkan → Antalya|
|Fethiye ← Xanthos ← Üzümlü ←||W E||→ Akbel → Kalkan → Antalya|