The Turquoise Coast of Turkey

Seeing the sarcophagus of Santa Claus (St. Nicholas). Swimming on the beach given by Mark Anthony as a present to Cleopatra?  Standing in the cave church where St. Peter first called his flock “Christians?”  From rustic fishing villages to sleek resorts, from pine-clad coasts to modern ports, Turkey’s Mediterranean coast has it all. 

Yachts crowd the harbour at Marmaris where Lord Nelson’s mighty fleet once prepared for its great victory over the French at Abukir.  Resort hotels and holiday villages ring the bay. A favorite day excursion by boat is to the placid bay at Knidos, where the renowned sculptor Praxiteles once erected his perfect statue of Aphrodite.  The water in the bay is as warm as a bath, and so clear you can see the bottom.  Speaking of swimming, its why most people visit Oludeniz, the “Peaceful Sea” near Fethiye. Comfy hotels in all price ranges now serve its perfect beach and tranquil lagoon.

For quaint fishing villages, Kalkan and Kas can’t be beat.  Narrow, winding streets descend to small harbors lined with open-air restaurants perfect for whiling away an evening under the stars.  If you don’t order fresh seafood-very reasonable priced—you’ve missed something!

At Demre, stop for a look at the 11th century Church of St. Nicholas, built in honour of the 4th century bishop later immortalized as Santa Claus.  The saint, who was buried here, is also the patron of children and sailors.

Capital of the Turquoise Coast, Antalya is a bursting resort and commercial city with an outstanding archaeological museum.  Quaint pensions and posh inns fill the historic district of Kaleici, and good restaurants ring the Roman harbor. You can use Antalya as your base for visits to the sights of the region, including Termessos, the dramatic mountain city which resisted even the armies of Alexander the Great; Perge, with a beautiful theatre, stadium, and grand Byzantine tower-gate; and Aspendos, with its near-perfect Roman theatre which is still used for performances.  At Side (SEE-deh), the ruins of a Hellenistic city are scattered amid a modern resort framed on either side by a mile of perfect sand beach.  Inland, try white-water rafting through the dramatic gorges of Koprulu Canyon, or hiking in the hills above the ancient city of Selge, now called Altinkaya. 

Alanya was a favorite seaside resort of the Seljuk Turkish sultans, and is today one of the liveliest seaside towns on the coast.  East of it, the great castle of Anamur, set right on the shore, marks the beginning of a dramatic winding road which clings to the steep mountainside all the way to Silifke.  Just a bit farther along, the dramatic Kizkalesi (“Maiden’s Castle”) seems to float on the blue waters 500 feet offshore.

Mersin is a modern town and active port.  Not far to the east, Tarsus was the birthplace of St. Paul, and traces of the ancient Roman town are still to be seen.  Bustling Adana is the capital of the fertile Cukurova agricultural region. Antakya, known as Anitoch in ancient times, holds the Church of St. Peter, a cave owned by St. Luke where the apostles Peter and Paul are believed to have preached. The Antakya Museum is filled with some of the finest Roman mosaics in the world.

Tours of Turkey and Aegean Islands cruises   

Religious and Archeology holidays in Turkey

History of Anatolia


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