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Rhapsody in blue Kas
2003 / JULY

Arriving from Antalya by road, the view as you reach the crest of the hill is so spectacularly beautiful that you might be looking at a painting of a scene from the imagination. An emerald green peninsular, numerous small islands, one of which is the nearby Greek island of Castellerizo (Meis in Turkish), a series of bays, and picturesque houses swathed in bougainvillea. Kas, the ancient Antiphellos, was an important port city of the Lycian Federation. Fine quality sponges and cedar used in ship construction were exported from here in large quantities. The Lycians believed in the immortality of the spirit and were unafraid of death, so they regarded tombs and sarcophagi as decorative monuments and placed them prominently in and around their cities. At Kas you can see Lycian rock tombs carved into cliffs, and examples of the characteristically shaped stone sarcophagi, such as that which stands at the end of Uzuncarsi Street. Other sights include the Hellenistic amphitheatre with 26 tiers of seats beside the road on the Cukurbag peninsular. The ancient Greek name Antiphellos means

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Rhapsody in blue Kas
2003 / JULY

'opposite the rocky place,' since it was the port for Phellos, an ancient city on the hilltop behind Kas where today there is a watchtower for forest fires. In later centuries it became known as Habessos and Andifli. Today Kas is a picturesque coastal town in a superb natural setting between high mountains and the sea, with fascinating historic sights and a relaxed atmosphere. Sitting in one of the tea gardens overlooking the harbour you face the island of Meis, which in aerial view resembles an eye. To the right you can see the road to the peninsular, and drifting in the sky colourful parachutes, which for the adventurous are one of the best ways to see the magnificent scenery between Kalkan and Kekova. This rocky stretch of coast has no sand beaches, but there are many places to swim and sunbathe; terraces built on the rocks at several places on the seashore, jetties, and pebble beaches, such as that at Hidayet Bay on the peninsular, the Kücük Cakil and Büyük Cakil beaches, Ince Bogaz, and Limanagzi Bay. The famous sand beach at Kaputas,

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Rhapsody in blue Kas
2003 / JULY

where the sea seems enamelled in different shades of turquoise and blue, is 18 kilometres to the west. Here the seabed suddenly shelves down at 5-10 metres from the beach, and the water is home to loggerhead turtles, moray eels, and the purple sea urchins typical of the area. Kas is renowned for the beauty of its underwater scenery and diversity of marine life, and there are around ten diving schools here offering courses and trips to suit everyone from beginners to experts. After watching the wonderful colours of the sunset, head for Uzuncarsi Sokagi lined by old houses with wooden bays half hidden beneath purple, pink and white bougainvillea. This is the main street of the town, where you can enjoy browsing in the small shops with a wide array of gifts to suit every taste. No one who comes to Kas should miss taking a trip to Kekova in one of the many glass-bottomed tour launches. These go first to Uluburun, where the wreck of a ship loaded with jars of wine which sank here around 3000 BC was excavated by archaeologists and can now be seen in the Museum of Nautical Archaeology in Bodrum.

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Rhapsody in blue Kas
2003 / JULY

The next stop is Aperlai, one of the smallest Lycian cities, followed by Aquarium Cove, appropriately named for its crystal clear turquoise waters, where swimming is an unforgettable experience. Now you are close to Kekova, where Tersane Bay awaits you. Here you can disembark to visit the monastery and the ruins behind the bay facing the open sea. Then comes Kekova itself, the underwater city whose ruins were submerged beneath the sea in an earthquake 3000 years ago. This is a conservation area, and swimming and diving are forbidden, but you can watch the ruins from the glass windows in the bottom of the boat as it moves slowly along: a flight of stone steps, amphoras lying half-buried on the seabed, the remains of a sarcophagus, columns, and an ancient sewer. Then the boat heads for Kale, a tiny village built on the 4th century AD necropolis of the ancient Simena, and the romantic mediaeval castle walls encircling the hillside above. Climbing the narrow streets of this picturesque village of whitewashed houses with red tile roofs,

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Rhapsody in blue Kas
2003 / JULY

gardens bedecked with the ubiquitous bougainvillea, and Lycian sarcophagi, you pass through the castle walls to reach the summit. From here a breathtaking view is spread beneath you: the little town of Ücagiz, Kekova Island, the Sicak peninsular, and further away Andriake Harbour, beyond which the blue sea dotted with little boats stretches to the horizon. Just west of Kale's harbour you can see a Lycian sarcophagus standing in the sea. Then the boat begins its return journey, stopping at Üçağız, a little fishing town with innumerable Lycian tombs. In one of the restaurants looking out over Kale you can savour delicious Mediterranean fish. Do not forget to buy some of the carob syrup which is the town's speciality before you leave... and to bargain over the price. On the dreamy blue voyage back to Kas you feel as if you now belong to the Mediterranean. The sun begins to drop towards the horizon staining the sky with brilliant colour, and all other thoughts fade away.

* Ersin Demirel is a freelance writer

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