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Article: EMEL YENİGELEN Photo: ÖZTÜRK KAYIKÇI
The heart of greenhouse gardening
One of Turkey’s major regions for farming and greenhouse gardening, Kumluca is also a leading touristic center with its nearby holiday resorts and ancient Lycian cities.
One of Turkey’s major regions for farming and greenhouse gardening, Kumluca has recently ranked high among alternative holiday destinations for its fertile soil, extensive beaches, natural beauty and historic texture. As you tour this township just 90 kilometers from Antalya, you will soon discover that, contrary to popular belief, Kumluca is not just a sea of greenhouses. The roads down which you walk may lead you now to an ancient city, now to a secluded blue-green cove, now to a path into the mountains.
A SANDY PLACE
Rumor has it that one day a villager from Sarıkavak planted watermelon seeds in a sandy area that is now the township center. When he took the watermelons to market, customers were astonished and asked him where he’d grown them: “In a sandy place near the river,” he replied. Based on the reputation of their watermelons, these fertile lands in time came to be known as Kumluca, in other words, ‘sandy'. According to data released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, tomatoes, 238,000 tons of which were produced in 2007, ranked first in the township among the vegetables grown under cover. Following right behind tomatoes with 126,000 tons, peppers are another major crop in the region. Cucumbers, eggplant, courgettes and beans are among the other vegetables on the list. In fruit growing as well, especially citrus, Kumluca is again high in production with fruits such as apples, pomegranates and lemons following close behind oranges, some 75,000 tons of which were grown last year. Thanks to the greenhouses which cover an area of 52,000 decares, a total of 552,000 tons of vegetables were raised in 2007.
IDEAL CONDITIONS FOR GREENHOUSE GARDENING
Agriculture facilities naturally play a key role in preserving the freshness of produce in a region where greenhouse gardening and farming in general are so highly developed. The eight cold-air storage depots in the township and the 22 packing plants with a capacity for packaging 2,000 tons of produce a day come into play in once the crops have been picked. A major portion of the fresh fruits and vegetables that reach our tables do so thanks to these advanced storage facilities and the greenhouse workers who toil there like bees in a hive. Besides fruits and vegetables, decorative flowers are also grown in the township. Bougainvillea and various species of palm including kentia are grown here for the market. Undoubtedly the region’s geographical situation and temperate climate have been influential in the advanced development of agricultural activity here on this fertile plain which stretches northward from the coast and is surrounded by mountains on three sides. Rising higher towards the north, the mountains extend into the Beydağları range. Although characterized by a typical Mediterranean climate, these rocky yet fertile soils are rejuvenated when the snows on Tahtalı Dağ and Akdağ melt in spring. In short, the region offers all the ideal conditions for greenhouse gardening.
AN EXTENSIVE COASTLINE
Although farming and greenhouse gardening are the area’s primary source of income, Kumluca with its 30-kilometer-long coastal strip and coves of Adrasan, Olympos in particular, is a popular stop with Turkish and foreign tourists. Most of the accommodations along the two-kilometer coast at Adrasan are run by locals. While the Mavikent area boasts several resorts, Karaöz Cove offers the Mediterranean in all its splendor. Again in the Mavikent area, Korsan Cove is one of the area’s surprises. One half of this cove is open to the sea, the other more secluded and exotic-looking, and a favorite with picnickers as well as fishermen. And on the coastal strip between Mavikent and Finike there is also a residential area consisting exclusively of bungalows built by the local folk.
A STOPOVER FOR BIRDS
Continuing on from Korsan Cove, at Taşlık Burnu we come to Gelidonya Lighthouse, one of the Mediterranean’s most important. Reaching this lighthouse perched on steep rocks 227 meters above the sea necessitates a climb through dense natural growth. But when you finally come to the lighthouse at the end of a path through the pine trees, the Beşadalar landscape that greets you will make you forget you were ever tired. Inaccessible to electricity due to its location, this lighthouse operates on bottled gas. Its name coming from ‘Kaledonya', meaning ‘swallow’ (the bird) in the Lycian language, construction of Gelidonya was begun in 1934 and finished in 1936. After spending a little time here, you will appreciate better why swallows in particular among the migratory birds choose to stop at this lighthouse. Totaling 509 kilometers in length, the historic Lycian Way passes below the lighthouse.
RISING FROM ITS OWN ASHES
Besides ancient cities like Olympos, Corydella, Idebessiois and Gagae, all of which are located within the borders of Kumluca, Rhodiapolis is another ancient city recently reclaimed for tourism and well worth a visit. This site, where excavations are being conducted under the direction of Prof. Dr. Nevzat Çevik, Chairman of the Archaeology Department of the University of the Mediterranean School of Arts and Sciences, was discovered following a forest fire that broke out here in 2001. Four kilometers from Kumluca, the city is one of the last to represent Lycian culture. With its theater, Opramoas monument, temple, bath, cisterns and marketplace, all dating to the Hellenistic period, Rhodiapolis is thought to have been a settlement of five thousand people. The monumental grave of Opramoas, one of the city’s prominent men, is surely the most important of the finds brought to light in the excavation. As Prof. Dr. Çevik points out, Opramoas, who lived during the reign of Antonius Pius (138-161 A.D.), was Lycia’s richest and most philanthropic resident. A large number of structures that were toppled in the earthquake of 141 A.D. were repaired with funds he made available, and there is literally no Lycian city he did not help.
Kumluca has many other attractions too numerous to mention here. Popular areas such as Olympos and Adrassan and the ruins of the ‘land of light’ discovered following a fire inspire you to take a new look at this township.