Patara is renowned as the birthplace of Apollo and is one of the oldest and most imp cities of Lycia. The Hittite King Tudhalia IV ( 1220 B.C.) was known to have said, “I sacrifices and presented gifts while facing Mountain, I erected stelai, and constructed sacred buildings. II What we understand from this is that Patara was known during the Hittite Age as Patar.
As the principal port on the coast of Patara has a long history. For this reason excavations are bound to bring the city’s a history to light. We know that the city existed 5th-6th centuries B.C. and that it was save( destruction when it opened its gates to Alex During the wars of Alexander’s successors, enjoyed considerable importance as a naval bi which capacity it was occupied by Antigonus i B.C. and by Demetrios at the time of his siege of Rhodes in 304. In the 3rd century B.C., the city with the rest of Lycia under Egyptian control. period it bore the Egyptian name Arsinoe; this did not survive beyond the Egyptian rule. Patara was re-captured by Antiochus III in 190 B.C., uttered the saying “Caput gentis”, that is, Ancestors’ Capital” to describe Patara, which exalted it above all the other cities.
Patara had a three-vote right in the 1 League, like the cities of Xanthos, Tlos, Olympos Myra. The League generally held its 11 conferences in Patara, which was its harbor a Patara, which didn’t lose its importance during the Roman Empire, was also the seat of the F provincial governor, who turned it into a port from which the Roman fleet maintained contact with eastern provinces. In the meantime, Patara was harbor where crops harvested in Anatolia v stored and kept for shipment to Rome. A Andriace, silos were built here to store grain during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, who had visited Patara with his wife Sabina and stayed there for a short period.
During the Roman Age, Patara, which became the capital of both the Lycian Pamphylian provinces, also became famous as 01 Apollo’s soothsaying centers.
Ancient writers refer to Patara as birthplace of Apollo as well as the home 0 important oracle, who they say interpreted or during the winter in Patara and during the sun in Delos. During the Byzantine period, Patara again lost none of its importance, and became a Christian center of some significance, as St. Nicholas, whom we know as Santa Claus, was born here. St. Paul set out for Rome by boarding a ship from Patara. However unfortunately, subsequent to this period apparently rejected by the gods and saints alike, harbor of Patara, which was 1 ,600 meters long 400 meters wide, silted up which prevented going vessels from entering it. This meant that city gradually lost its importance. Since then the city has gradually been covered with sand dunes, witch has given it the appearance of a desert resulting the slow obliteration of all the ruins left standing.
In recent years Prof. Fahri Isik and his from Akdeniz University have been trying to dig spellbinding city out from under the sand. Let’s a walk together through one of the most famous cities in history.
On the way to Patara, we may see the remains of Roman tombs by the side of the road, about knee-high, and several tombs of the Lycian type, which indicate that this was the site of a necropolis. We also notice a monumental gate still standing which was the entrance to the city. According to its inscription, this victory arch was built in 100 A.D. by the Roman governor, Mettius Modestus. At the same time, this arch was used as a part of the aqueduct that brought water to Patara. Before arriving at the victory arch, one can see the monument tombs situated in the lower part of the road, along the edge of the lake, which has taken the place of the ancient harbor. These magnificent t have survived for the most part to this day.
here one may notice the harbor church, measuring 12 x 9.10 meters, with three aisles. This church remains submerged in water for most of the year There are many temples in Patara. A bust of Apollo was discovered on the hill beyoI1 city gate, which indicates the existence of an Apollo Temple, the whereabouts of which are still not clear.
In fact, what we do know is that during the first century of Roman rule, the center of the oracle of Apollo fell into disrepair, but that Opramoas, a rich Lycian whose name is to be seen throughout Lycia and who himself came from Rhodiapolis, had the town of Patara resurrected. Though the birthplace of the ‘god Apollo, who was the child of Zeus and Leto, may be shown to be several places, it is accepted that he was born in Patara. Apollo is an Anatolian god.
In the Iliad, Homer mentions him as “Phoibos”, which means ‘illuminated’, and ‘the famous Lycian archer, Apollo.’ For this reason, he along with his Anatolian sister, Artemis had always aided the Trojans and their Anatolian city, Troy. The name ‘Lycia’ meant ‘illuminated nation’ in ancient times, whereas their head god, Apollo, was perceived to have light in his lineage. Right next to the victory arch is a sarcophagus from the Roman period. To the west of the sarcophagus are the ruins of the Date Baths. With its floor decorated with thick stones and mosaics, these baths were called Date Baths due to the giant date trees next door. These baths belonged to the Roman period, and were also used during the Byzantine Age. One hundred meters ahead is a road sign measuring 2.35 m. long x 1.60 wide x 5.50 m high. This road sign, which was discovered in recent excavations, was made by Quintus Veranius on the orders of Emperor Claudius and it is extremely important as it shows the distances between the Lycian cities. This is the world’s oldest and most comprehensive road sign.
Walking along the asphalt road, we come to some ruins of a church at the side of the road. It is understood that the church was constructed with previously used stones from the architectural fragments in the inner walls.
Walking just beyond this church encounters the tomb of Marciana in the middle, wall. whereas one may find the Vespasian Bath in the western corner of this tomb. They are called Vespasian Baths on account of the money he had aside for their construction. The baths measure 105 x 48 meters and were partitioned in sections. In order to see inside the baths you step over the large stones. If we stay on the 6 next to the baths, we shall reach Anatolia’s main avenue, which was 12.5 meters in width covered in marble. Under the main avenue high quality sewage network. There are stoa up along the western part of the main avenue, which opens out to several roads, Today, this main avenue spends most of the time underwater. The city’s central baths are located at the eastern end of the avenue, whereas there are ruins of a small baths complex at the western end.
A little further along the road and we encounter the wide walls of a Byzantine fortress. To the east of this fortress is a Corinthian temple that was constructed from well arranged stones, the owner of which is unknown. Measuring 13 x 11 x 6.10 meters this 2nd century A.D. ‘in antis’ plan temple, had plenty of architectural ornamentation.
The theater, which is set into a slope, is unfortunately half-buried in sand. A team from Akdeniz University has been continuing its excavation studies and just like other sites around Patara, has been removing the sand from the theater. An inscription on the eastern side of the skene indicates that it was built by Velia Prouila and her father in 147 A.D.
North of the theater is what was known as Anatolia’s largest administration building (the ecclesterium) , which measures 43 m long by 29 m wide. At the top of the hill behind the theater is a monument tomb, whereas, nearby is an 8-meter deep cistern that has been carved into the rock. To the west of the cistern is a part of the walls of the harbor lighthouse of Patara.
Hadrian’s Granary can be seen in a swamp next to the harbor. This building, called the horrea or granarium, measured 67 x 19 meters and was divided into eight sections.
Next to this, one can encounter a large temple-tomb that is still intact. This temple tomb, which was constructed from thick and showy stones, must have been quite magnificent during ancient times. From here, there are a number of monument tombs of various sizes stretching all the way out to the village. In addition, there are tombs to be found on the hill opposite the ticket office. The marshy reeds in the lake that used to be a harbor in ancient time whisper about the splendor of ancient Patara.
We believe that new discoveries will continue to occur in the new excavation work currently taking place in Patara, whereas one day, the sleeping Patara is going to achieve the fame she deserves.