The Archaic remains and stunning rock formations while trekking the Lycian Way Saribelen - Gokceoren
While the magnificent remains of Patara, Xanthos, Tlos, Patara, Myra, Phaselis etc. are well know and documented, the mysterious remains of the first settlers in Lycia are to be found in the hidden fastness of the inhospitable looking mountains of central Lycia, between modern Kaş and Kalkan. The dissolute and overgrown archaic period buildings around Islamlar, Bezirgan, Sarıbelen and Gökçeoren are in few archeological texts and the names of the settlement are generally unrecorded, however for the Lycian people who lived here, the long fertile valleys with fresh water springs, the high defensive outcrops perfect for fortresses and the fact that nothing of these valleys is visible from the then raider infested sea, made these places a refuge and maybe something of a paradise.
The 13 kms of Lycian way between Saribelen and Gokçeoren are not the most frequently seen areas of Lycia, but especially in the cooler parts of the year, offer isolation and great sea views frequent ancient remains and very unusual rock formations of the conglomerate rock, a welcome change to the more common limestone forms in the area.
It was a damp and misty start to our journey, we started from just above Gokçeoren village, known by the older folks as Seyret. We descended past the cedar built granaries, one belonging to each family. These wooden buildings look like miniature houses and are unique to Lycia and are strikingly similar to the 'Lycian house type tombs' carved into the cliffs of the area. According to some, the reason that all the granaries are in the same place and not beside the houses is that peaceful though these villages may look, old enmities and blood feuds between families run deep. A good way to smite your enemy would be to burn his granary, leaving a family hungry in winter. This was such a problem that the apocryphal reason for the granaries being all together is that if one burns, then they all burn!
Passing the local mosque just opposite the village spring, we marveled at the size of the Plane tree, Plantanus orientalis. the size of this tree was almost enhanced by the lack of leaves in winter, the size and form of the boughs being open to viewing.
Crossing the village we saw some simple house type tombs in the cliffs above, reminding us of the ancientness of this place of habitation.
Finding the Lycian way's red and white marks, we started to climb up out of the village on the speckled conglomerate rock hiding many fertile meadows, and pillar tombs hidden in the maquis.
Just before arriving at a lone farmhouse, we com across some massively built buildings, the stones so huge it is as if they were made by giants. In this area generally, the larger the blocks,the older the building. There are many large buildings here and a few sarcophagi.
We descended to a perfectly untouched meadow, the sun now coming out to bless us with the colours of Lycian winter. The meadow had one lonely farm house with satellite dish but no one was home.
Leaving here we came to probably the most interesting building from an archeological perspective. What looks like a tomb has been formed from a proto-arch. The lower bands of stone started to narrow in an arch form but the upper sections were 2 large long stones balanced against each other. It is thought that the Romans were the first to perfect the arch, but this pre Roman tomb was a step on the way.
Beginning the descent we were treated with lovely views of the coast before Kalkan all the way to the plat lands and beach of Patara.
The final section of the walk took us up through some finely wind eroded conglomerate, round cotton wool shaped cliffs.
Crossing the road for the final descent to Saribelen took us through some lovely woodland, with ancient hollow plane trees and 2 Lebanese cedars, unusual at this relatively low altitude.