Endless surprises

What a fascinating place Iassos is!

Located next to the charming village of Kiykislacik, the site holds endless surprises.

Village life in Kiykislacik
Bread straight out of the wood fired oven (in background)

We had loved wandering around the 4th Century BC (and earlier!) ruins on the perimeter coastline of Iassos but we hadn’t yet walked up to the remains of the medieval castle built by the Knights of St John.

Kiykislacik at dusk

So off we went to climb the hill leading to the castle. Before we had gone very far we came upon a building site where around a dozen workers were working hard on a large hut-like structure.

Start of the climb up to the castle

As we came closer we saw that the structure was more of a shelter than a hut and we were intrigued to find out what it was for.

We came upon a building site

Using sign language, we asked one of the workers if we could go in and he waved us in.

What was this shelter being built for?

On entering we were blown away to see a number of stunning mosaic floors.

We were blown away to see the mosaic floors

We had stumbled upon the remains of a 2nd Century AD villa built in the Hellenistic tradition. The part we were standing in was the 12 metre by 13 metre courtyard which was once paved with marble interspersed with geometric mosaics on three sides.

We particularly liked the dolphins

On the fourth side was a series of three interconnecting rooms that also had mosaic floors.

The three interconnecting rooms
The rooms also had beautiful mosaic floors

Standing in the middle of the courtyard it was easy to imagine the grandeur of this amazing villa – you could almost hear the tinkle of cooling fountains fed from the massive cistern carved out of the rock – still there even now.

Steps down into the massive cistern which provided all the water
There were some walls and outbuildings still in evidence

The views were magnificent and the remains of the villa and its outbuildings covered a large area. What a special place and such a surprise as none of the articles we had read on the site even mentioned it’s existence.

The views from the villa were magnificent
These might have been outbuildings or part of the villa itself
The roof of the shelter being built to protect the mosaics
More remains around the villa site (above and below)

We left the villa behind and continued climbing,eventually arriving at the summit and the medieval castle.

A lovely view of Sunday from the villa
Jonathan looking somewhat amazed by it all
Approaching the castle
The gateway into the castle compound

The view was stupendous and as we stood drinking it all in, the muezzin in the village mosque started chanting the adhan (call to prayer). Such an evocative sound and one of those times that will stay in my memory for ever.

The view was amazing

Earlier that day we had been in the village to try and post an urgent letter. Apparently there was no post office in the village so we decided to take a taxi to the nearest “big smoke” – Gulluk.

This was the first ever gold lame car I’d ever seen! It has glitter embedded in the paintwork!

We went to the hotel in the village where we had eaten a delicious dinner the previous night and asked them if they could organise a taxi for us.

The hotel where we called for a taxi
The remains of the delicious meal we’d had the day before.

The proprietor very kindly called the local taxi driver and we were amused to hear him say (in Turkish) “it’s for the Australians”! The only way he would have known that was by hearing it from one of the other restaurant owners who had specifically asked us “where are you from?” We had a bit of a giggle about that – so typical of a tiny village anywhere in the world, as soon as a newcomer enters they are discussed and gossiped about!

The older men of the village playing Rummikub

On the way back our taxi ground to a halt as there was a car parked across the middle of the road. Was there a highway robbery taking place? Or had someone casually parked there after drinking too much raki?! It turned out that the quarry up the road was conducting a blasting operation and no cars were allowed to drive by during the explosion.

Why was this car in the middle of the road?

We waited for about ten minutes and then heard the unmistakable thud of explosives and felt a slight vibration in the air. There was a spectacular cloud of dust in the distance but once we were allowed to drive towards the quarry the dust had settled somewhat and the driver had no problem with visibility.

There was a massive cloud of dust after the explosion

We had heard that there were some ruins of an ancient Greek agora (a central public space) in Iassos that somehow we had missed in our extensive roaming so we decided to see if we could locate it.

We thought this must be the entrance to the agora

We thought we had found the entrance – very close to the village of Kiykislacik but when we saw three cows and their cowherd coming out of it we wondered if we had the right place.

When we met these cows walking through we wondered if it really was the
entrance to the agora

A few steps on we were amazed to see how extensive the remains were – they extended over a massive area and as well as the Agora, we could see parts of the city walls, a small amphitheatre (a bouleuterion – where council meetings would have taken place), towers, columns that were once part of a covered walkway and other areas that had been excavated.

We were amazed to see how extensive the remains were
The remains extended over a massive area
We could see parts of the city wall
This would have been a round tower
on the city wall
It was wonderful to see so many columns still standing
The agora would have been so impressive in the days it was still complete
We would love to step back in time and see how the agora looked in its heyday
The bouleuterion – where council meetings
would have taken place
Stairs in the bouleuterion
The mighty entrance to the bouleuterion
There was a system of passages, corridors and stairs that connected with the outside and led to the side entrances
The passageways went right under
the seating area

Apparently archaeologists have identified Mycenean remains (approximately 1750 to 1050 BC) and underneath these, two Minoan levels dating from around 2000 BC.

This was in one corner of the agora showing strata from a number of different eras

Other archaeological finds cover Geometric (900 – 700 BC), Hellenistic (323 – 31 BC) and Roman through to the Byzantine period.

Iassos was such an exciting and surprising find and we were absolutely amazed that this site appears not to be part of the normal tourist trail of important archeological sites.

We were absolutely amazed that this site appears not to be part of the
normal tourist trail

We were so fortunate to have stumbled on this fascinating place and were happy to have shared the experience with just some cows, an artist at his easel and just two other couples.

One side of the agora
The remains indicate how busy this area was – it was fun to imagine the hustle and
bustle of daily life
Iassos was such an exciting and surprising find

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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.

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