Trek to the churches of the Lycian Heretics

The mountains behind Demre, Ancient Myra are harsh and inhospitable. Known as Aladag, the colourful mountain, the tails are rocky and there is no running water. This inhospitable land became the hiding place of Monophyste monks, followers of St Nicholas of Sion, a 6th century saint. Not to be confused with St Nicholas Of Myra, who was a 4th century saint who also lived nearby, Nicholas of Sion was a more mysterious figure. In the high mountains between Myra ( Demre) and Phoenicus ( Finike) the monks lives in small self sufficient communities, collecting water from the rain int cisterns, building terraces to farm, and creating highly decorated churches to worship in. The Monophystes believed that Christ had only one nature, a divine one. This was in conflict with the orthodox belief the Christ had two natures, one Divine, and one human. Such disagreements about seemingly unimportant issues divided the ancient church, and caused many killings and persecutions over the centuries. It would seem that the monks thrived in this harsh land, which was 8 hours trek from Myra and 2 days trek from Phoenicus.

We trekked from above the Lagoon of Beymelek ( Archangel) up to the ancient settlement known as Yılanbaşı ( Snakehead) From here we passed into the pine forests, carpeted with Anatolian Orchids ( O. Anatolica) before arriving at the church of Gunagi. This heavily ruined church was highly decorated with Latin crosses and Acanthus leaves. Again passing into the forest we then arrive at another unknown settlement with a small chapel, well preserved. The many deep cisters show us how the monks here supplied water for themselves by trapping the rain water.

Descending to the Lycian Way above the large terrced valley where we find Alakilise, the largest church of the area. Known as the Church of teh Angel Gabriel, it commands a large valley strewn with remains, indicating a large settlement identified as Karkabo. From here we followed the Lycian way down pas the the hamlet of Zeytin, to the Rocky, dry village of Belören.

Fine decoration at Alakilise on the Lycian Way

Fine decoration at Alakilise on the Lycian Way

Fine decoration at Alakilise on the Lycian Way

#Alakilise #StNicholas #lycianway #Monophyste #Alacadag #Trekking #hiking #turkey #lycia

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Specialists in small group, activity and custom travel in Turkey since 1994 in Kaş/ANTALYA