Beware of snakes and scorpions!

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.

Jonathan standing on part of the wall built in the 5th Century AD around the ancient site of Iassos.

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.

Iassos has been occupied 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.

Our catamaran Sunday anchored in front of the tower built in the entrance to the harbour
Another view of the tower from the beach where we left our dinghy

First though, we went to have a closer look at the square tower standing in the water not far from where we were anchored.

This square tower probably dates back to mid-Byzantine times.

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.

A part of the fortified wall surrounding Iassos

Everywhere we looked we could see the remains of small buildings – we could only guess when they were built and for what purpose.

Everywhere we looked we could see the remains of small buildings
We could only guess when these were built and for what purpose.
Could this have been a bath house?

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 thought this might have been a shelter for the guards
What could this have been?
We were scratching our heads about these
Another mystery building
If only walls could talk

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.

We walked round the perimeter of Iassos, marvelling at the scattered remains.
We kept the glorious blue sea always in our sight
We weaved our way through groves of wizened and venerable olive trees

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.

The most impressive section of the wall 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.

Right by the waters edge these buildings could have been to do with importing goods
We thought the massive arches could have been part of warehouses or granary stores
Whatever they were, they would have been impressive when approaching by sea
Fascinating to imagine the hustle and bustle of this port centuries ago
A discarded column
Amazing structure
We would love to see these arches properly excavated and “reimagined” so we could see what it had looked like originally
A handle from an amphora just casually lying around in one of the arched buildings
We thought these gaps were for ventilation

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.

We stumbled on an area that had been properly excavated although judging from the profusion of weeds and undergrowth it was a long time ago

It was just incredible to think we were looking at small temple that dated back to the second century BC.

A 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.

Part of the sanctuary of Zeus Megistos
The temple dated back to at least 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.

Part of the outer wall of the sanctuary of Zeus Megistos

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.

I thought that this building could have been a bakery…..
……but then again maybe it was a bath house?
Loved this passageway
Jonathan examining the quality of the brickwork
One of life’s mysteries- we will never know what this building was

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 scrambled through the bushes in the hillside and came upon this impressive wall

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.

Following the staircase up to – what?
This had once been an impressive 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.

Strange to think it had been intact for two and a half thousand years until 1887 when the marble was removed to make a port!

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!

All the marble blocks were taken to Constantinople (Istanbul)

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.

This was once a street of houses very close to the amphitheatre

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!

Eek! Beware of scorpions (akrep) and snakes (yilan)!
Away from any danger
Back in the fishing harbour
This little cat was well hidden

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!

Thankfully there was a seafood restaurant open
An adorable local dog
We knew the calamari was fresh as we had seen the boats fishing for them the night before
A great way to end our adventurous day

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

One thought on “Beware of snakes and scorpions!”

  1. Iassos looks amazing! How fantastic for you to be able to explore it with so few other people around, not to mention the snakes and scorpions which were also obviously self-isolating!

    You seem to have a knack for discovering more and more hidden corners with spectacular views, history and nature. Long may that continue!

    xx

    Like

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