It is 8.30 a.m. or thereabout when we weigh the anchor and set out for Kalkan. I’m not under the spell of the many buildings and colorful houses – too touristic if you ask me. The dinghy puts us ashore where the minibus will drive us north into the Xanthos Valley, all the way to Pınara, today’s Minare.
Once again I am impressed by the lush green vegetation of this valley but the scenery is spoiled by the many greenhouses that mushroom all around. Three crops a year is of course very tempting, but at what price! The sight upsets me, such scars in the landscape! It strikes me though that as a rule the greenhouses are in better shape than the houses where the farmers live. Today’s worldwide obsession of making money has reached even this sheltered area!
After about one hour driving, we leave the main road where the sign says Pınara 2 km. This road is still somehow in the making with a good foundation but no asphalt coating yet. Tricky gravel and dirt have not filled all the potholes but we trust we are in good hands.
From the road, we can see the huge round red rock in the landscape full of pigeonholes, all Lycian tombs. In Lycian language, the name for Pınara was Pınala, which was their word for “round”, hence the name of the city. Amazing how neatly the rectangular gaps are aligned. The builders must have dug out the space hanging over the cliff’s edge to cut these burial spaces that seem to measure about three meters high by four or five meters wide – probably as deep. It feels like dozens of hollow eyes staring mysteriously at me! As we drive closer I notice tombs in the opposite mountain wall that are decorated with framed facades and relief bands.
The first tombs we actually visit are the so-called Royal Tombs aligned in a narrow gulley sealed off at the end with rubble from recent earthquakes. The main tomb, or what I believe to be the main one, is very impressive with its reliefs inside the tympanum picturing the deceased surrounded by servants with underneath an entire procession of dancers and all. The burial space itself contains one single bed, an unmistakable indication that this was an important person. I can’t help but comparing these tombs with the ones I saw in Petra, Jordan, also cut in the bare rock, also with a decorating framework on the outside and also having rock beds or benches along the inside walls. Of course, Petra’s heydays started in the 3rd century BC after Alexander’s conquest of the area, but the Nabataeans had lived there for hundreds of years before, carving their tombs in the bare pink rock. I never read anything about the legacy from Petra to Lycia or vice-versa, maybe nobody thought of it? Anyway, I find this exchange of culture quite exciting!