When J and I were on our recent wanderings along the North West coast of Turkey, not far from the town of Geyikli, we were surprised to round a bend in a rather narrow road and be confronted by a big yellow sign saying ‘Dalyan’. Why surprised? Well, because the Dalyan we, and I suspect most visitors to Turkey, know best is the one next door to where we live back in Muğla. That this was an historic site of some import was obvious – what it comprised of now was less so as it was totally overgrown and unkempt.
As we were just enjoying a meandering dawdle of a drive, we thought ‘Why not?’ and so we did!
What we had stumbled upon were the remains of what was once the ‘Rotterdam-Europort’ of the Greek and Roman empires. Starting off as Sigeia, it went through a few name changes over the years; as Alexandria Troas it was the port from which Paul of Tarsus (Paul the Apostle) sailed for Europe to set about the process of converting all those happy, tress-hugging, graven image loving pagans into happy-clappy, graven image loving christians (Archers is an equal opportunity employer of capitals). At some stage during the Byzantine era it was destroyed but for some obscure reason remains, to this day, a titular see (you can look it up, I can’t be bothered) of the Catholic Church. This wreck of a place is also still a titular see of the Orthodox Church, and the last hierarch until 2011 was, and get this, ‘His Grace Bishop Savas (Zembillas) of Troas’. This guy is presently serving as Metropolitan of Pittsburgh, USA, which goes to show that if you put the time and effort in to administer to the needs of a ruin you will earn your place in hell! During the Ottoman period the ruins were plundered for stones and fancy bits and bobs to build mosques and the like of which the Yeni Valide Camii in Istanbul is an example.
Yeni Valide Camii built for Sultana Valide (1910 photograph)
Anyway, enough of all that! Is there much to see? If you are a dedicated follower of such things, then ‘Yes!’ there is, far more than this post will convey. The casual visitor can grasp some idea of the scale of the place without venturing too far afield. Some of the original walls remain (they had a circumference of about ten kilometres), but there is, in my opinion, one very good reason to stop if you are passing by – the remains of the bath and gymnasium. Endowed by Herodes Atticus and built in the year 135AD, they stand as a monument to the strength of the arch in construction and to the precision and skill of the original stonemasons.
Bereft of all of the surrounding walls and support, 1877 years later, three of the original four arches stand; magnificent in their defiance of the forces of time and nature, silhouetted against the perfect blue of the Aegean sky.
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü
ps apologies for those who commented and have now lost their comments – there was a scripting error in the original post which led to some strange ‘happenings’ with the lay-out.