Sunday, 17 June 2012

In which there are ruins, and hospitality

We had only hired the car for part of our holiday, and after our lazy beach day decided to make the most of it before returning it, by taking another trip to look at more ancient remains.  

Our chosen destination was Sidyma (Dodurga), about an hour’s drive from Fethiye. It was described as being unspoilt, and as none of us had been there before, it seemed like a good idea. It was.  

The village of Dodurga is small, and has grown up around the site of the ancient  Lycian town of Sidyma – indeed, many of the houses have made use of bits of the ancient buildings  (well, with all that handy dressed stone around, why wouldn’t you?) The village is reached by going up a long, narrow, partially un-tarmacked road, and if you are us, you overshoot and drive even further up by mistake, but the views are good so you don’t really mind)

 Once we arrived, we parked next to a rather battered farm truck, and settled down on some bits of ruin under a mulberry tree to eat our picnic before we explored. As soon as we sat down, an older lady came out to great us, and, when we turned down her suggestion that we come to her ‘café’ ( a collection of small tables in her garden, with a handwritten sign advertising hot and cold drinks) she went away, to return a few minutes letter bringing dolma, which she insisted we take, and  were delicious.

A few moments later she came out again, this time with a large jug of ayran, which we turned down as politely as we could, given our very limited Turkish. Ayran is very much an acquired taste, and not something which it’s very easy to drink just to be polite. However, happily she did not appear to be offended, but instead, disappeared again, and returned with çay, which we enjoyed (and she accepted our offer of some of our cherries, in return) 
There was no request for, or suggestion of any payment, it was, it seemed, genuine kindness and hospitality. 

Once we finished eating our lunch and drinking çay, we collected up the plate and glasses to return them. She then invited us into the house. She and her ?mother were interested in where we were from. They did, then, bring out some carved spoons and things, and some scarves, but with no pressure to buy anything! Before we left she gave us all bunches of mint picked from her garden.

After our lunch and çay, we went to look around the site – the path was stony, and some of the stones were obviously pieces of ruins – pillars and so forth – and there were other pieces in the wall.. then we came upon the first bits of  building – a tomb repurposed as a field wall, others standing at random in the centre of fields, or built into a shed.
including a small building, or tomb, with a patterned ceiling still in place.
As we wandered further, we found a whole hill covered with tombs, some of which still had lots of visible carving and inscriptions.
None of it showed any sign of being curated – there were no signs, no fences, just the ruins, among the locals farm (there was one part of the site we didn’t explore, as the ruins were surrounded with ripe, but uncut barley.

 We must have spent an hour or two exploring the site, climbing into a tomb or two, (and getting viciously stabbed by ultra-prickly thistles) it was fascinating. And there wasn’t another soul  in sight for any of the time we spent exploring the place.

 After we left Sidyma, we called in at one final Lycian / Roman site before heading home – this was Pinara, which is up a very steep, rocky road, with vertiginous drops down from the side of the road.

Pinara was very slightly more developed that Sidyma, in that there was a little hut at the entrance, with the inevitable elderly man and his backgammon-buddy to sell us entrance tickets. But as we hadn’t the right change he let all 3 of us in on 2 tickets, rather than try to make change for a large note!

We started by exploring the rock tombs. These were in a cliff, at the base of which there was a stream,  populated by dragonflies on electric blue. Visiting the tombs involved a lot of scrambling around, and in some cases, into, the tombs. It was clear that bits of the cliffs fall down from time to time, but fortunately none of them fell on us.

There was wild thyme and mint and basil, and fig trees, and bougainvillea and hibiscus. Clambering up to the tombs I saw a little yellow snake, and later, as we walked along towards the ruined bathhouse we saw lizards and tortoises and jays, too.

The baths were almost completely ruined, but there was an amphitheatre which was almost complete, and very beautiful.

More photos on flickr

The entire site was huge, and we had it to ourselves. It was fascinating, and peaceful.

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