The village of Gelemis often referred to as Patara Village enjoyed its heyday in the 1980s before the growth of Kalkan. You can drive through the village and pine forest to the sand dunes, further along the beach than the usual tourist spot.
The ruins are quite amazing and rumoured that on full excavation to be larger than Ephesus. This is the birthplace of St Nicholas and your first sighting will be the city gate just before the entrance to the ruins.
There is a fee to access the area — for 7.5 lira you can buy a card valid for 10 days which will allow you 10 entrances in to the site and beach area. Children under 12 are not charged for. From the entrance gate carry straight on and the ancient city will come in to view immediately. To visit the site, take the right approx 1.25km from the entrance gate to park near to the ruins. To visit the beach continue to the end of the road where you will see a car park area, and take the wooden walk way on to the beach.
Possessing a natural harbour, Patara was said to have been founded by Patarus, a son of Apollo. It was a very wealthy city due to trade and was one of the six principal cities of Lycia.
The town walls surround an area of considerable extent and the theatre has about 30 rows of seats. The building to the side of the theatre is the parliament building and the date of the building’s construction goes back to the Hellenistic Age, however, the form we see today is from the Roman period. It has rows of stone seats arranged in a semi-circle, the same arrangement used in the chambers of the American Congress. Voting pieces made of fired clay may have been used and the number of holes piercing them indicated “yes”, “no” or “abstain”. The Lycia League founded in 168BC an early federation with democratic principles, these later influenced the United States Constitution.
From the theatre you will pass the recently restored Parliamentary building on the left, continue straight on and you will come to the main street with columns of marble and granite either side. If you turn left at the end of the street and follow the path along, signposted as 800m (about 10 mins) you will come to the lighthouse, a 2003 discovery believed to be the oldest lighthouse in the world.
If you are looking around the ruins, it is best to go early or late in the day and as ever take water and sun protection.
Another treat is to be on the beach at sunset, a magical sight as the sun slips behind the horizon between the sea and sky.