It always intrigues us that there are so many ancient sites in Turkey that you scarcely hear of but when visited reveal fascinating surprises and mind blowing history.
The site of Iassos is one such place. Originally on an island but now attached to the mainland, it has been settled since the Early Bronze Age.
We were anchored in the bay in which the delightful and unspoiled village of Kiyikislacik is set and a short dinghy ride to the beach where we started our exploration.
First though, we went to have a closer look at the square tower standing in the water not far from where we were anchored.
As soon as we had pulled up the dinghy on the beach and walked a few steps we found parts of the fortified wall surrounding ancient Iassos – said to have been built in the 5th Century BC.
Everywhere we looked we could see the remains of small buildings – we could only guess when they were built and for what purpose.
One we thought could be a bath house, another we picked as a shelter for guards when on a break from being on patrol.
We walked round the perimeter of Iassos, marvelling at the scattered remains. Weaving our way through groves of wizened and elderly olive trees we kept the glorious blue sea always in our sight.
In some parts the ancient wall was more intact than in others and the most impressive section was over the other side of the isthmus.
There we saw massive arches that reminded us of the ruins of warehouses and granaries at the Adriake archeological site near Demre. Again, we don’t know for sure but this was what we guessed they were.
We turned inland and stumbled on an area that had been properly excavated although judging from the profusion of weeds and undergrowth, it was some time ago.
It was just incredible to think we were looking at small temple that dated back to the second century BC.
A little further along we discovered the sanctuary of Zeus Megistos which had an inscription that included a mention that dated it to the 4th Century BC.
Successive modifications that have been excavated have shown the importance and longevity of this build. The abundance of votive lamps and other objects dating from the 6th Century through to the late Hellenistic period show how long it was held in such esteem.
We wandered back off the “beaten track” to investigate some other buildings we had noticed earlier. One reminded me of a bakery but there were no notices or explanations describing what any of the buildings had been.
We didn’t really know where the official path was so we turned inland and basically followed our noses. Then we came upon a massive wall that wasn’t just functional but was also beautifully finished.
We thought that this must be an important structure but what was it? We climbed a well constructed staircase and discovered we were in what was once a massive amphitheatre.
It was hard to discern it’s layout exactly but a drawing made by Charles Texier, the French architect and archeologist who conducted some excavations in 1835 showed that it was still intact when he visited.
Sadly, in 1887 all the marble blocks from the amphitheatre were taken for the construction of the quays in the port of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). The price of progress!
We had been walking for a while and had seen so much. “Amazement fatigue” was beginning to settle in so we decided to walk into the village to try and find a late lunch.
We scrambled down the overgrown hillside and at the bottom saw the sign below warning hikers to beware of snakes and scorpions. A bit late for us!
Fortunately there was one place open for lunch and we enjoyed some freshly caught and extremely delicious calamari. A great way to end a rewarding day!