What a fascinating place Iassos is!
Located next to the charming village of Kiykislacik, the site holds endless surprises.
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.
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.
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.
Using sign language, we asked one of the workers if we could go in and he waved us in.
On entering we were blown away to see a number of stunning 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.
On the fourth side was a series of three interconnecting rooms that also had 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.
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.
We left the villa behind and continued climbing,eventually arriving at the summit and the medieval castle.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Apparently archaeologists have identified Mycenean remains (approximately 1750 to 1050 BC) and underneath these, two Minoan levels dating from around 2000 BC.
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 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.