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Category:         Ancient City / Site

Civilisation:       Lycia

The ancient city of Patara is an archaeological site located between the coast of Antalya and Fethiye on the southwestern edge of the Xanthos valley. İt is known as the birthplace of mythological God Apollo, & as the prophecy center dedicated to him. It is one of the most important and oldest cities and ports of Lycia.
The wery first data about the existence of patara in history  is seen in Herodotus and Hekataios incriptions, who mentioned the  prophecy. The Persian satrap (king), Harpagos which overthrew Lycia, was ruled the area for a period. The first information describing the Lykia expedition in 540 BC is mentioned by Herodotus.
Previously There were not enough historical and archaeological information about the existence of the city before the 6th century BC, but the potsherds uncovered together with the Bronze Age finds were unearthed during the Patara excavations that were carried out continuously since 1988. the findings were dated to the 11th and 10th centuries. So, information about earlier periods has been reached. The presence of two terracotta figurines from the Tepecik Cistern from the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age indicates the traces of a permanent settlement.
One of the most important buildings of Patara is the Road Guide Monument built during the Early Roman Period. The Patara Necropolis and the tomb architecture are quite diverse and rich. Comparing to a classical Lycian city, there is a small number of tombs symbolizing the early period. On the other hand, many different grave architecture belonging to Hellenistic and Roman Period were found in Patara. The buildings reflecting various types of monumental tombs are generally located around the port. When we look at the architecture of the city in general, it is seen that both the periodical and the architectural aspects are quite large and developed.
patara Normally one of the most important port cities of Lycian civilization. However, especially after the Arab invasions around the 7th century AC, lost its importance and the sand carried by the Xanthos River, created a delta in patara bay in a thousand years  & Patara Harbor, probably in the 15th century AC has become irreplaceable. This situation is also effective in the formation of the sandy coast of Patara, which is now tens of kilometers.

patara ancıent cıty / antalya
Likya birliği parlamento binası, Patara
Likya birliği parlamento binası, Patara

Archaeological excavations revealed that Patara history dates back to the 4th century BC. The first appearance of Patara on written sources is on the Yalburt Welding Temple dating to the 13th century BC. In this inscription in which the Luwian hieroglyphic language was used, the Hittite King Tudhaliya recounts the expedition to Lukka countries and says that he erected steles in front of Patar Mountain, offering sacrifices and gifts and made holy houses to the gods. The name given to the Lycian people in Anatolia is '' Lukka '' and the recent anthropological research shows that they are a tribe immigrated from the Caucasus.

The history of Patara, before the date when Alexander the Great came to Lycia in 334 & 333 BC is guite long. In the Bronze and Iron Ages the Lycian coastal cities, rural and mountainous areas have not experienced much dark period. Patara, after the death of Alexander, was used as a naval base for a while. It was taken over by Ptolemy and was named after his wife and sister, Arsinoe.

During the reign of the Roman Empire for more than three hundred years, Patara hosted a highly developed. during the reign of Eastern Roman (Byzantine) period it changed into an important place in the history of Christianity considering the historical events it lived & the important people it hosted. İn MS 541 AC, a plague epidemic killed many people in the area. Starting from 7th &  8th centuries AC, Patara has lost its importance like all Lycian cities,  by the cause of  devastating effect of Arab invasions starting from the 6th century, its population has diminished and the city gradually became smaller than was captured by the Seljuks in the beginning of the 12th century AC. It is one of the first cities that Seljuks captured in the Mediterranean. From the beginning of the 13th century, the dominance right of the region was taken by the Menteşe Principality, which was the regional powe of that period.  Finally Patara entered under the Ottoman sovereignty in 1424 AC. It is known by the written sources that Cem Sultan (Brother of the Sultan who was sent to exile to europe) came to Patara in 1478 to meet with Rhodes knights. In 1481, due to the severe earthquake and tsunami in the region, the lighthouse in Patara was destroyed, the harbor and the city were damaged. No trace of permanent life & settlement remained. Nowadays, it is a first degree protected area which is about 3 kilometers inland from the sea and there is a village before the protected area.


The Patara Theatre, probably built in the 3rd century BC, with an independent theatre building of later age. The latter was financed, according to an inscription, by a Greek woman, called Vilia Procula. Or more precisely, it states that she financed the front wall of the stage (proskenion) and the Logeion (stage), whereas the theatre building (probably built end of the 1st, beginning of 2nd century AD) was paid for by her father Quintius Villius Titanus. The theatre could hold 5500-6000 people on 34 rows. The theatre building is 41,5 wide x 6,5 m deep. At the very top of the seats there is, as in other theatres, a temple. It had one room, 4 columns stood in front. It is not clear to whom it was dedicated.

patara sahili /Patara Coast
gelemiş köyü patara

There are approximately 1-1.5 kilometers of road from Gelemis village to the beach. İt is one of Turkey's most magnificient beaches and unspoilt coastline. It extends for about 10 km until it reaches the place where Eşen (Xantus) river reached to Mediterranean. The beach is also in the breeding area of caretta caretta turtles that are under protection. There is a facility on the beach serving payable car parking area, sun loungers and parasols . The beach is a bit far from gelemiş willage by foot, you had better take a taxi.
But if you want to visit the ancient city of Patara on the way, you can walk the area between the village and the sea. This is a great opportunity to meet with refreshing water of the sea after having a long walk and got sweated.

Today, the entrance to the ruins area between Gelemiş and the coast is accessed from the magnificent and very well preserved Roman triumphal arch after the ticket checkpoint. It is understood from the inscription that it was built on behalf of the Roman governor in 100 AC. On the slopes of the hill on the west, there is a cemetery area (necropolis) with sarcophagises in the form of a Lycian-type reverse boat shape. At the southern end of the city, the theater, which is leaning on the hill called ''Kurşunlu'' is reached. Theater was rebuilt after the earthquake in 147. By the end of the 1980s, when I first went to Patara, the theater was completely overrun by the sands and we had to smash the sands to get in. Today the sands have been cleaned and theater had a good restoration process. Other important ancient structures of the city are; Vespasian Bath, Corinthian Temple, main street(Cordo), port and granary. They can be easily viewed. The granarium behind the swamp to the northwest of the hill is one of the best preserved monumental buildings of Patara today, and it is named after Emperor Hadrian and his wife Sabina. North of the theater is the Parliament of Patara, the capital of the Lycian union. İt is accepted as the first Senate building in the world. The building has been restored since the beginning of 2010 and it has been under preservation. The back side (West) of the ancient city of Patara, which is scattered in the distance between the village and the coast, is a marshland from the village to the sea.

patara central baths

The central bath is northwest of the Nero bath, east of Liman Street. Due to its location in the city, the building, which is called the Central Bath, has not been excavated yet. Information about it is based only on architectural observations. The structure, measuring approximately 12.5×25 meters, consists of three consecutive spaces. The eastern space must have performed the functions of frigidarium (cold) and apoditerium (undressing). The tepidarium (warmth) in the middle is the caldarium (warmth) with its wide arch in the west.

you will see a palm tree cluster called '' Hurma hamamı-palm bath '' stands out as you walk through the Roman monumental arch in the ancient city center. There's a water spring underneath. Stroll to this area and feel the dark, mystical coolness among the trees. You will definitely fell yourself like a bedouin in the desert who found a water spring ornomented with trees. (Don't worry about the polar bear :- This is a joke in Turkish, which says ''An unlucky bedouin is F....d by  polar bear in the desert). What is more strange is that you can not find any other trees like them in the vicinity.  

marshland in Patara

Main street of patara runs north-south. It is one of the widest in town (12,60 M.). On either side were Ionic colonnades, the east side had granite columns, the west marble ones adorned with a mosaic floor, that has been lost. Behind the colonnade there were shops in varying sizes. The road has no wheel marks, so probably was a pedestrian boulevard. Its construction thought to date from Hellenistic times, with reconstruct ion to a Cardo during Roman Empire times. It is intersected by a east-west Decumano. To the north it runs as far as the harbour, and to the south the West Stoa of the Agora. After earthquakes the Main Street was flooded.

Viking Sword in Patara;

Excavations in the ancient city of Patara in Antalya in 2018 found a Viking sword in the port bathes, estimated to be from the 9th or 10th century.

The Viking sword is thought to be belonged to a Viking mercenary from the Vareg Corps in the sea battles of the Eastern Roman Empire in the first half of the 9th and 10th centuries. In fact, facing with a viking in Anatolia or in Mediterranen was a wery rare situation, but the truth is that, Viking warriors were used to be paid to be mercenaries in Byzantion army and especially in the naval forces.


The monumental inscription, a part of the lighthouse in the ancient city of Patara in the southern province of Antalya’s Kaş district has taken its original place. (2022)

The construction of a 26.5-meter-high lighthouse, which was built by the Roman Emperor Nero and is reported to have been completely destroyed in a tsunami in 1481, continues in the ancient city of Patara, which dates back 6,000 years.

The X-rays of some 2,700 stones that have been unearthed during the excavations were taken to the stone hospital, and their original locations were determined one by one with artificial intelligence technologies. The reconstruction of the 2,000-year-old lighthouse, with probably 80 percent original stones, is considered a first in the world.

The monumental inscription, one of the most important historical parts of the lighthouse, was completely replaced in its original place by the excavation team on Aug. 13. 

Translation of the text on the monumental inscription is as follows:

“Son of the divine Claudius, grandson of Tiberius Caesar Augustus and Germanicus Caesar, great-grandson of the divine Augustus; Nero Claudius Caesar, the owner of the tribunate for the 11th time, the Consul for the fourth time, the lord of the land and sea and the father of the country, had this lighthouse built for the safety of the sailors. Sextus Marcius Priscus, the Imperial Governor at the proprietorial level, led this construction.”



Delikkemer, which was built to meet the water needs of the ancient city of Patara, the capital of the Lycian civilization, is one of the most unique historical buildings of the Roman Empire in Anatolia in terms of HYDROLOGY ENGINEERING. The arch, which is part of the system that brings water to the ancient city of Patara from the natural spring in Akbel, consists of gigantic rock blocks interconnected. 


Prostylos temple. (Above) The prostylos temple is the best preserved of its kind in the Lycia region with its walls still standing up to the roof level. It was constructed on the edge of the agora at the Main Harbour, which was located inside the estuary of Patrai. It was later incorporated into the medieval fortifications as a bastion. The temple is raised on a 1.5 meter tall podium, measuring 12.80 x 9.70 m, which is reached by a flight of 10-13 steps from the north. The cult room (naos, cella), almost a square in its plan, measures 8,9 x 7,8 m. The northern façade overlooking the inner harbor has a 2,25 meter deep pronaos (porch) bordered by tongue-shaped projections (ante) with Corinthian capitals. In front of the pronaos, there are 4 Corinthian columns supporting the vault. The cult room of this prostyle temple is accessible through a sumptuous gate (6,6 m high and 2,9 wide), whose lintels and jambs were hewn from a single slab of rock. The tiers (0,5 m wide) on the three sides of the gate are richly decorated. On both ends, the upper block of the gate (lintel) has very elaborate cantilevers decorated with volutes and acanthus leaves. The interior walls on the naos are roughly finished, but they are covered with marble. Although the walls are double hulled, the two rows of the architrave are composed of single blocks of stone. It is not known exactly to which god this temple was dedicated. Besides, instead of being dedicated to a god, it might have been built as an imperial cult temple, Sebasteion. Based primarily on the ornaments seen on the gate, the temple is dated to the third quarter of the 2nd century AD. Source

Stone carved warrior armor
Patara beach
Patara beach
Patara beach
Roman Monumental Gate
Rock Tombs
Senate Building of Lycian Union
Entrance to theater
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