Arykanda - Hellenistic Theatre

Arykanda is one of the most dramatically situated ruin sites in Turkey. The setting is breathtaking as the city was built over five terraces at the foot of a rocky cliff, the Şahinkaya (Falcon Rock), overlooking the major valley between the Akdağ and Bey mountain ranges. 


Most of the ruins on the site are from the 6th century BCE through the 3rd century CE. However, the name Arykanda is of Luwian origin and the city was originally named Arykawanda, meaning "place near the high rocks"  which suggests a much older origin. From the 2nd century BCE, Arykanda was a member of the Lycian Federation. Ancient sources claim that Arykanda's citizens were lazy and hedonists tending to live lavishly beyond their means. When Antiochus III tried to invade Lycia in 197 BCE, Arykanda took his side in the hope of financial benefits to pay their debts. Like the rest of Lycia, Arykanda was incorporated into the Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Empire. It continued to exist, though in a much-reduced form, until the 11th century.

Charles Fellows, a British researcher and explorer, discovered Arykanda in 1838, basing his discovery on grave inscriptions and coins that he collected from the surface. By the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Arykanda was spotted by many travellers. However, the city remained forgotten for many years due to transportation difficulties. Since 1971, a Turkish team of archaeologists, headed by the late Dr. Cevdet Bayburtluoğlu, has been excavating the city.

Sights & Photos of Arykanda

Near the car park, some stairs and a doorway lead to some ruined buildings on a hill called Nal Tepesi (Horseshoe Hill). This area originally contained the monumental grave of Hermaios, a Lykian Governor. After its collapse, it was turned into a basilica and, in late antiquity, into a bath complex. Turning back to the main entrance, there are the remnants of a Sebasteion or imperial cult temple built during the reign of Emperor Trajan. Remnants from this temple were reused to construct a late Roman basilica church and bishop’s palace in the 5th century CE which still contains traces of wall paintings and floor mosaics. Among the other remains of Arykanda from the Hellenistic and Roman period, are the impressive peristyle of a Roman villa complex from the 4th Century CE, a bath complex, two necropolises, a Hellenistic theatre, an odeon, which was also used as bouleuterion, and a state agora.

After our visit of Arykanda, we had a short stop at Limyra, where we visited the ancient theatre.

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Travel Information & Travel Tips

Arykanda is situated at some 150 km from Antalya and 34km north of Finike, from which it is easily reached from there by car or taxi. Additional info and photos of Arykanda can be found.

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