Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Drangiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Monday, May 5, 2008


My plan today is Arykanda, renown as being the Delphi of Turkey and it turns out that this title is not exaggerated. I read that Arykanda overlooks a magnificent valley and that the view makes it one of the most spectacular sites in close competition with Ephesus and Pergamon. It goes without saying that it is one of my top priorities.

The smell of spiced herbs mingles with the sweet penetrating perfume of orange blossoms when I am leaving my hotel in the early morning. Traffic in Finike is busy with the Saturday market and the road works as I drive between houses and shops till the sign “Uçumlar, Güle, güle” waves me out. This turns out to be a last greeting from civilization as settlements suddenly become sparse. The road winds between steep green mountains richly covered with thick pine trees. I am all eyes for this is Alexander-country (at least for me!), a majestic and commanding landscape with high peaks crowned with snow. It is a little hazy, not exactly ideal for taking pictures but my memory will record all the details. The road is twisting and climbing ever higher. Here and there, I catch a glimpse of houses and rows of trees, squeezed between plastic greenhouses that grow smaller at each turn. What a land! The road is well maintained. This is not as obvious as it sounds for, although this is a centuries-old connection between Finike and Elmali, it has been improved only in the recent decennia – lucky me!

After the village of Arif, I see the brown signpost to Arykanda. Yet it is pointing to a high cliff in front of which the locals are setting up their orange stalls. What is this? According to the Sunflower guide “From Antalya to Demre”, I have to make a right turn to reach the Agora of the ancient site about one kilometer from here. I inspect the rocky wall in front of me but find no entrance road. I take another look at my detailed map and finally realize that the road is to my right, half behind me looking over my shoulder – a kind of hairpin turn. It is nothing more than a dirt path indeed and I pray that I’ll not meet a car or tractor coming from the opposite direction, but all goes well and I find the space to park. I am the only car and the only visitor and like the day before there is nobody to buy my ticket from. Well, my presence will be known soon enough, knowing the Turks …

I’m deeply impressed by what I see. Such a big city! It is so wonderfully well preserved and excavated - a real gem with many streets and staircases still intact, two Agoras, remains of temples and private Roman houses with mosaics, Basilicas, and cisterns. I feel like a kid in a toy store, I want to see it all at once! Where shall I start? I decide to climb uphill to the two Agoras and adjacent buildings, as at this time of day it is still cool. To my surprise, there is a billboard with a map of Arykanda and another one with a list of the buildings pointing me in the right direction. These buildings are numbered and referenced on the map and they match the copy of the map I took with me from Cevdet Bayburtluoğlu’s book on Lycia – well, no wonder for he is the archeologist responsible for these excavations!

The Lycian city of Ary-ka-wanda, “the place near the high rocks”, is known to be one of the oldest sites, where even coins from the 5th century BC have been found. My friend Alexander the Great has stopped here on his way from Milas to Phaselis, but if there is any hard proof to this story, I don’t know for I haven’t found one. After his death, the city was ruled by the Seleucids and afterwards by the Ptolemaic dynasty. It is said that the tension between Limyra and Arykanda, for whatever reason, prevented the influence of Ptolemy spreading further inland through the valley of Arykandos. In the 2nd century BC, Arykanda joined the Lycian League and starting from 43 AD the city belonged to the Roman province of Lycia and Pamphylia. It even survived Byzantine times, until the 9th century when the settlement moved to a new site south of the modern road. Luckily for us, the marble and limestone remains have been spared the lime-kilns as no large town was built in the neighborhood. Besides, much of the site has been covered by landslides, meaning that Arykanda's buildings were well hidden. This is why the excavated remains look so clean and almost new. Built upon five large terraces on a mountain slope, the city is quite unique. It was known for having the most pleasure and entertainment-loving (and debt-ridden) citizens. So when in 197 BC they supported Antiochus III in his fight against Ptolemy, it was not so much a political move, but mainly to get their creditors off their backs. Nothing’s new under the sun!

Time to start exploring the site! I’m curious what the plastic roofs next to the parking are sheltering and I see that there are mosaic floors underneath that seem to belong to a Basilica. Yet I leave this side of the city for later and set off to higher grounds.

[read further in Arykanda 2 - Visiting the Site]
[Click here to view all the pictures of Arykanda]


  1. Thank you very for your valuable information. Please join us on my Facebook page about Lycia.ın-Yeniden-Keşfi/493392390670925?ref=hl

    if you join, please send me a message too. I will be very happy to communicate with you.. Byee


  2. Sorry, I'm not on Facebook. I'll be happy to talk to you via e-mail though, if you like.

  3. Hi Murat,
    I just had a look at your Facebook (I'm curious after all) and noticed that what is labelled as "Myra" are in fact the remains of Limyra with the fast flowing water and the theater ... Looks rather confusing ...

  4. Loved the post and we are really looking forward to visiting Finike next year and some of the places you have described beautifully

    1. Arykanda is a most wonderful site to visit, only to be compared with Delphi, yet much more closer to the people who lived there. You'll love exploring the Finike area.