The vast and archaeological rich ancient city of Arykanda is harmoniously set in a magnificent natural position in the province of Antalya on the southern (Turquoise) coast of Turkey.
Built on a series of terraces on a rocky steep hillside overlooking stunning mountainous and valley landscape, Arykanda’s location resonates like mystical Delphi in Greece and is perhaps the most beautiful of ancient cities in the whole of Lycia, an ancient geopolitical region in Anatolia.
In antiquity Arykanda was a member (with voting rights) of the Lycian League and even minted its own coins.
The city was well-known for its grand and ornate buildings, however according to ancient sources the citizens of Arykanda were somewhat lazy and in the habit of living lavishly beyond their means. It is said that they fell into debt; and it is believed they repaid their extravagance through new special taxes.
Arykanda was a small obscure settlement when it was invaded by the Persians in the 5th century BC. Like other Lycian cities, Arykanda heroically resisted the invasive powers, however they eventually succumbed to the might of the Persian Empire.
In 333 BC Alexander the Great arrived in Lycia (on his way to defeat the Persians) and was welcomed as a liberator by the citizens of Arykanda.
With Alexander came the irresistible force of Hellenism. Arykanda wholeheartedly adopted the Greek culture and way of life, which included the Greek language and it was transformed with all the buildings necessary for a Greek city.
Arykanda continued to grow and prosper after the untimely death of Alexander and remained under the control of the Ptolemaic dynasties. It briefly changed hands to Antiochus III and then to Rhodes around 190 BC (ally with Rome at the time). It was officially annexed to Rome in 43 Ad.
The city continued to prosper as a Greek city under Roman rule; however its growth was stalled when it was struck by two major earthquakes in 141 and 240 AD.
After a bitter struggle with the city’s pagans Christianity prevailed in Arykanda and the city became a bishop’s seat in the Byzantine age. However they city was on the decline and sometime between the ninth and eleventh century’s AD the site was abandoned due to the Arab invasions of the region.
Arykanda was rediscovered by British researcher and explorer Sir Charles Fellows in 1838.
The isolated archaeological site is large and well sign-posted. It contains a very impressive and rich array of excavated architectural remains from its glorious past including: Stadium, Theatre, Odeon, Agora’s, Baths, numerous Temples or Sanctuaries, Nymphaeums, Houses and Villas and at least 15 monumental tombs.
All Images, Text and Content are Copyright Steven Sklifas.