The last Stop before we reach Fineke Marina, our Sharki’s new home in Turkey, is Kaleköy – which means Castle’s Village in Turkish. The ruins of an impressive Byzantine castle rest high above this delightful hamlet, which is built on and among the ruins of Ancient Simena.
From the Castle you can see over to the now uninhabited island of Kekova, which used to be called Dolchiste in Antiquity. The town was destroyed by an earthquake in the 2nd century CE, but was rebuilt in Byzantine time. It was finally abandoned by it’s inhabitants when Arabs attacked, leaving behind carefully carved steps leading to the shore, smooth walls carved out of the stone and underwater foundations of long deserted buildings. The Kekova shoreline is declared a specially protected area where no swimming over the “underwater city” is allowed. We motored by, marvelling at the signs of human activity and decided to let the dinghy down to take a look underwater. While Bill and Opa kept our Sharki off the coast, I rowed closeby the shore so the kids could hang their heads in the water, looking at stone piles through their goggles.
More underwater stonework from ancient paths are visible in the shallow bay by Kaleköy itself. A lone sarcophagus tells of the unusual funerary architecture of Lycia, a people settling here and other places in Southwest Turkey 2500 years ago. Around the castle there are more of these massive sarcophagi scattered throughout the landscape in no apparent order. It seems like the whole hamlet of Kaleköy is nestled in a mysterious Lycian necropolis.
In Kaleköy time seems to have come to a halt. There are no cars, the hamlet can only be reached by foot (45 min) from the neighboring village or by boat. During the day many local tour boats arrive with visitors wanting to see Simena Castle with it’s superb views and the smallest amphitheater in the world (only 12 seats)! But in the evening it gets quiet and we are the only boat anchored.
Large carob trees green the hill and provide shade for people and goats. The fruit is used for carob cider which is supposedly very healthy. We didn’t get to try it, but saw it simmering in a brown liquid over an open wood fire which was kept going by an old lady. According to her it has to cook for at least 24 hours and is quite tasty. We will come back to try it and to spend some more time in this truly special and secluded place.