Patara was one of the oldest and most important cities of Lycia. It was renowned as the birthplace of Apollo (as was Delos) and was famed for its oracle. Patara has a long history and was already known by the Hittites as Patar. It was the principal port on the coast of Lycia and during the Roman Era, Patara became the capital of both the Lycian and Pamphylian provinces. During the Byzantine period, Patara maintained its importance and became a Christian centre. St. Nicholas was born in Patara and St. Paul boarded a ship coming from Patara when he set out for Rome. However, in later times the harbour silted up and gradually the city lost its importance and became covered with sand dunes and marshes.
More on Patara's history is available on the Lycian Turkey site.
Sights & Photos of Patara
Patara's most impressive landmark is undoubtedly the monumental arch at its entrance. This victory arch was built in 100 A.D. by Trebonius Proculus Mettius Modestus, the first Roman governor-general of the joint provinces of Lycia and Pamphylia. The arch consists of twelve consoles, six on each side, upon which portrait busts of Modestus and his family were placed. Other important remains are the Roman amphitheatre which has its roots in Hellenistic times and the recently discovered Bouleuterion (Latin Odeon, meaning Parliament building).
Today, apart from archaeology, Patara is famous for its huge 50 m wide and 18 km long white sand beach, the longest and widest in Turkey with a tide that allows body surfing. The nearby village of Gelemiş offers the necessary accommodation of pensions, bars, and restaurants. The beach, which was elected by the Sunday Times as the best beach in the world, is not only popular with tourists but also with breeding turtles. That's why in summer, the beach area is off-limits after dark.
Travel Information & Travel Tips
I visited Patara in 2005, on a trip along the Lycian Coast, coming from Demre.