Phellos-Antiphellos

The length of my hike along the Lycian Way yesterday was 12 kilometers, not 10. We actually started from the village of Okcuoldugu, on the hill 2 kilometers above Ufakdere Bay. Ufakdere used to contain an olive press factory, hence the name – it is now in ruins on the beach. The rocky outcrop at the eastern end of the bay is Cape Ulu Burun, the site of a Bronze Age shipwreck.

Today was less successful. I had decided early in the morning that I wanted to go to the ruins of Phellos, the ancient sister city of Kas, called Antiphellos in earlier times:

The ruins of Antiphellos are spread around the town of Kaş, which lies at the neck of a small peninsula in the Mediterranean. Its location makes it one of the most beautiful sites on the south-west Anatolian coast. From what we can glean from Pliny, the original Lycian name of this ancient city was Habesos. Later written sources however, give the city’s name as Antiphellos. It is agreed that Antiphellos was a small port linked to neighbouring Phellos, some 7-8 km. to the north as the crow flies. The term “phellos” means “rocky place” in Greek. Antiphellos means “opposite the rocky place”.

Because there was an increase in trade contacts from Hellenistic times onwards, Antiphellos gained special importance as a port for the export of the region’s timber. Bearing in mind the difficulty of land communications and the perpetual scarcity of suitable arable land around it, it is certain that this town never became a large city.

Anyway, in a book I found in the apartment entitled From Kas to Dalyan, describing walks in this area, I discovered in a map where the ancient city of Phellos was located. In my mind the information that the distance from Kas to Phellos was 7-8 kilometers had registered but not the qualifier “as the crow flies”. So, I packed up my backpack, had a cappuccino and some orange cake at the tiny café in town that I like, and headed towards the taxi stand. As I left the café, I turned down one of the side streets that I hadn’t been down before and saw a sweet dog that reminded me of Brubin sitting with its master at a tea house. I stopped to pat the very friendly dog and its master asked if I’d like to join him for a cup of tea. The man, a Turkish gent of about 70, I had seen before a couple of times walking his dog in the morning down my street.

We had a nice conversation over a glass of tea. He told me that he’d come from Istanbul to Kas 30 years ago, that he doesn’t work, and that every morning he walks his dog along Lycia Caddesi, then goes to the tea house, reads the paper and plays “OK” with his buddies. He also likes to hike and said that it was possible to hike back from Phellos to Kas quite easily. With that bit of information, and what I’d read in my book, I walked to the harbour to inquire about getting a dolmus to take me up somewhere near the ruins, intending to walk back from there. I negotiated a price of 10 lira for the driver to take me up to the fire watch tower, much farther than his usual route which stopped at the village of Agullu, in the hills above Kas.

We dropped off the other two minibus passengers at Agullu and continued to drive up and up into the mountains above and beyond Kas. With each upward hairpin turn we drove further and further away from the sea and from civilization as I knew it, up into the mountains. As each kilometer passed I became more and more convinced that this journey was a mistake, that I had made a serious miscalculation as to my ability to negotiate my way back to Kas through this wilderness. When we finally arrived at the fire watch tower pretty much in the middle of nowhere, about 20-25 kilometers away as I later discovered, I knew that I had to convince the driver to wait for me and take me back to Kas again. I could not possibly walk that distance back in an afternoon.

He wasn’t too happy, but, after consulting his timetable, said for an extra 30 lira, he would wait for 45 minutes while I visited the ruins. I grabbed my bag and started walking very quickly up the tractor path that apparently led to Phellos. As I went, I passed a very long line of bee boxes and heard quite a hum of buzzing bees. Hurrying past them, I continued to make my way down the path, not seeing any signs of the promised ruins and hearing a steady, quite strong sound of buzzing behind me. I looked back and saw lots of bees flying around in the air behind me, some of them swooping around me, and I began to get a bit frightened. With visions of being stung by swarms of crazed bees beginning to fill my head, I decided that a visit to Phellos was not as compelling as my desire to get the hell out of there. So, I turned around and walked swiftly back to the minibus 20 minutes later. The driver was surprised to see me so soon but I explained, in sign language, what the problem had been, and off we went back to Kas. Disappointed but also relieved to have escaped without incident, I decided that these ruins were ones that I was just going to have to miss.

See a few pictures here.

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