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Kalkan Villas
A Guide to Patara Turkey
28 February 2024
Kalkan Villas

A Guide to Patara Turkey

If you are looking for an outstanding holiday destination combining nature, history and cuisine, Patara on the southwest coast of Turkey will not fail to impress. Famed for its expansive beach, vast historical ruins and natural beauty, Patara is a quaint haven for exploring an authentic part of Turkey. The beach and the surrounding woodland are part of the Patara National Park, one of the Riviera's great gems. Due to its historical and natural significance, the area is protected, which means there is little coastal development and a slower pace of life in this unspoiled seafront sanctuary.

To the south of the present-day village of Gelemis are the ruins of Patara, as well as Patara National Park and Beach. Patara is a short drive from the upscale town of Kalkan on the Mediterranean coast which makes for an excellent base to explore this beautiful area. There is something for everyone here, including abundant marine life, mountains covered in lush vegetation, and remnants of a deeply layered history.

Patara Beach

One of the most stunning and unspoiled beaches in the Mediterranean, this 18-kilometre stretch of golden sand is surrounded by dunes and the Taurus mountains. As there is an unlimited expanse of sand to explore, it won't take long to "get away from it all" and find your own "small piece of paradise" if you wish to spend some time in a private retreat. You can find complete serenity here if that's what you're looking for. Strolling across the dunes and taking in the spectacular sights is enchanting, particularly at sunset and sunrise.

A relaxed cafe by the beach offers beverages, light lunches, and snacks. The cafe blends with the surroundings and provides a laid-back, calm atmosphere. Also, there are showers, restrooms, and the option to rent parasols and sun beds. There is a fee to pass through the historical city due to its protected status and the fact that it is the most direct route to Patara Beach

Patara beach is an important ecological area as it is one of the few surviving beaches where Loggerhead turtles still come to lay their eggs between May and October. As a result, measures are in place to ensure that tourists may enjoy the beach while maintaining its protection for the turtles.

For the ultimate sunset experience, you should head to the section of Patara beach known as Küm Tepesi (or top of the sand). On the opposite side of Gelemis village, winding roads lead uphill to this beautiful location which is free to access, and you can meet some of the locals who gather in the evening. 

How to Get to Patara Beach

Mini-buses offer regular shuttle services through the village to Patara beach for a nominal fee, or plenty of taxis are available for hire. Driving takes around 5 minutes from the village centre or 20 minutes from the nearby town of Kalkan, and free parking is provided next to the beach. If you enjoy walking, it is a lovely 25-minute trek through thousands of years of history from the village. 

Gelemis Village

The small hamlet of Gelemis sits north of the impressive National Park at Patara, and the ambience here is calm and relaxed. A modest number of low-key, authentic restaurants providing home cooking can be found in the village centre. In addition, a few bars are set along the central street, along with gözleme houses (traditional Turkish pancakes), a handful of gift shops, and a barbershop. Simbar is known for its lovely garden setting and drinks created with fresh fruits from the garden, while the Medusa bar is popular for its incredible live music performances. In addition, a small supermarket and two general stores are available to supply you with all the necessities for a self-catering trip.

Agriculture plays a significant role in village life, and most residents who own and run the hotels and restaurants also work in farming during the winter. A short drive from the hamlet, greenhouses are stocked with tomatoes, peppers, and various other vegetables. The olive groves around the village supply most of the oil needed for cooking in the neighbourhood restaurants. Many neighbourhood restaurants feature vine canopies that provide shade from the midday sun. In addition, you can find small groups of traditional beehives producing delectable local honey by taking a short stroll into the hills surrounding the village.

Patara Ancient City

The Ancient settlement of Patara formerly possessed great power. According to history, Patara was founded by Patarus, an Apollonian son, and the Temple of Patara was on par with the Temple of Delphi. As a result, Patara was an important city throughout the ages, first under Lycian sovereignty, then under Greek and Ptolemaic rule, and lastly under Roman control.

Patara pioneered the development of a truly democratic society that coexisted peacefully with the city's natural surroundings in antiquity. Patara was always bound to be a centre of inspiration and collaboration since Patarus, Apollo's son, sanctified it at creation. The city endured and expanded throughout the ages, supported by nature and adored by those who came to see it.

As Lycia's main naval and commercial port, Patara was extremely wealthy. It held an important position as one of Lycia's six principal cities and the one with the most votes. In addition, it served as the Roman governor's courtroom throughout the Roman era. At one point, the city served as the provincial capitals of both Lycia and Pamphylia.

As you enter the historical site, you first pass the Arch of Modestus, a large stone monument with three archways built to commemorate the first Roman ruler of Lycia. Beyond this point, there are planes of fallen stone, some with beautiful sculptures that are the remains of houses and a Turkish bath. As you look out over these sleeping stones, you can sense how big the city used to be, and it seems there is much more to be uncovered. 

Beyond the fields of stone, three magnificent constructions remain intact. The first is the enormous amphitheatre, which has a stage and staggered seating for 8,000 spectators that follows the gradient of the supporting hill. The steps leading up to the summit are between the rows of chairs. Although the ascent may be challenging, you will be rewarded with a fantastic, elevated view of the ancient city centre.

The parliament building, where the Lycian League representatives gathered, stands next to this majestic amphitheatre. Like the US Congress's chambers, it contains rows of stone chairs in a semicircle. The throne-like perch where the League president sat is still present, as are the stone-vaulted main entrances. Beyond the parliament building is a well-preserved street lined with pillars. 

Fun Fact- A Legend Was Born in Patara

Did you know that Patara is also a significant location in Christian history? The story of Santa Claus can be traced back to a monk named St. Nicholas hundreds of years ago. Nicholas is thought to have been born sometime in the year 280 in Patara. St. Nicholas was well respected for his devotion and kindness and reportedly donated all his inherited fortunes and toured the countryside to serve the ill and impoverished.

Later on, he was appointed bishop of Patara-neighboring Myra (modern-day Demre). He passed away on December 6th, AD 343, at Myra and was laid to rest in his cathedral church, where a unique artefact formed in his grave. Nicholas' church in Myra has long been a significant destination for pilgrims. An old East Roman Basilica church called St. Nicholas Church once stood in the ancient city of Myra; now a museum in the Turkish town of Demre in the province of Antalya, it is well worth a visit on your holiday in Patara.

Discover Patara with Kalkan Villas

We recognise the value of enjoying a relaxing break and having the chance to try new things. We are really passionate about what Kalkan and the surrounding surroundings can provide for our customers here at Kalkan Villas. Our concierge services allow you to fully enjoy your holiday while staying in one of our luxury villas. A dedicated team member will be pleased to offer suggestions for activities and assist you in making travel arrangements, so contact us today to plan your next holiday in Kalkan. 

Remember to tag us @luxuryturkish when you capture the perfect holiday snap at Patara.