Kibyra, a hidden gem in plain sight

Kibyra is an impressive ancient site situated en route between the Mediterranean coastline near Fethiye and Pamukkale. It is a fascinating place, with remarkable ruins that you will most likely have all to yourself. Granted, since this place seems to be where most people would qualify as ‘in-the-middle-of-nowhere’, you would have to put in a bit of an effort to get there. But an effort that is highly rewarded by the size of the ruins and the fact that you will probably have them to yourselves.

Theater And Bouleuterion

Theater And Bouleuterion

What is Kibyra?

Kibyra is an antique city near the city of Gölhisar in Turkey. Formerly known as Cibyra Magna and the principal city of Cibyratis, Kibyra was an influential city with a large infantry and many horse riders. Kibyra was later conquered by the Romans and remained significant to a degree where the buildings that are still visible in Kibyra today date back from its Roman times. It isn’t until 2006 that methodical archaeological work started in Kibyra; uncovering a stadium, an agora, Roman baths, a necropolis, a fountain, a bouleuterion, a theatre, and part of its main street. Walking around the site, you can’t help but wonder why hardly anyone visits. The stadium alone is worth the trip. We assume the answer lies in the fact that there are no other major tourist attractions or cities in the vicinity, and people decide in favor of more conveniently located sites.

Panoramic View From Above The Hammam

Panoramic View From Above The Hammam

The Stadium

After driving up the road to Kibyra passing some sarcophagi, the first building you see is the stadium. Kibyra is so stretched out, that you cannot see the theater and bouleuterion from the stadium entrance. This may be a good thing because the stadium is so overwhelming, that the lack of other buildings would only be a distraction. The stadium for up to 10,000 spectators is 197 meters long and shows the power of Kibyra. It initially had 21 seating rows on the hillside, and 5 on the other. It offers spectacular views of the fields below.

Kibyra Stadium

Kibyra Stadium

Other impressive ruins in Kibyra

For those who fear that they won’t be wowed by anything else after visiting the magnificent stadium, don’t worry. The site has plenty more to offer, and with ongoing excavations, we remain excited to see what archaeologist will uncover soon. At present, the pictures below show the most important other structures to be admired in Kibyra. Unfortunately, the extraordinary mosaic of a Medusa in the bouleuterion and the refined mosaic floor in front of it have been covered with pebbles to protect them. Understandable, but still a tiny bit disappointing if you’ve seen pictures online showing the building with the mosaics. Still, even without the mosaics, you’ll have a pretty astounding walk down antiquity lane.

Agora In Kibyra

Agora In Kibyra

Practical information for your Kibyra visit

Getting to Kibyra is the easiest by car. You’ll see the exact location of the site by using our map search function meanwhile discovering more Turkey travel inspiration. If you do not have a car at your disposal, the bus-line Fethiye Burdur goes past Gölhisar. Once there, you can choose to walk the 3km up to the site or find a taxi. Remember, you are in a relatively undiscovered territory, good walking shoes and plenty of drinking water and sun protection are essential! At the time of our visit, entrance to Kibyra was free of charge. This may change once the site gains more popularity.

Also, have a look at the page that covers all Turkey travel resources. It contains the links to the official visa application website, FastTrack through Istanbul airport links and plenty more.

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All pictures © @Aegean.Images

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