Limyra: an idyllic dive into an ancient basilica!

Limyra is a bit the odd man out when it comes to ancient sites. Why is that you may ask? Because on the one hand, there’s not much left still standing from what must have been a quite impressive ancient city. But on the other hand, Limyra holds a definite wow-moment when you lay eyes on the submerged ruins of a Basilica, annex Colonnaded Street. Those alone are worth the detour if you find yourself near Finike, as they are a valid competitor for the overcrowded and over-commercialized ‘Cleopatra Pool’ at Pamukkale. Read all about what to expect from a visit to Limyra, and how to prepare your visit.

The Water Adds A Little Magic To The Ruins At Limyra

The Water Adds A Little Magic To The Ruins At Limyra

The historical background of Limyra

Historians believe that the Lycian name of Limyra, Zẽmuri originates from a Hittite word, but so far, no excavation founds date back to a period as early as the Hittites. They did, however, discover pottery fragments on-site dating back to the 7th century BC. The earliest settlements probably took place in the 6th century BC, judging by the type of domestic architecture in the northern sector of the western town. By the 4th century BC, Limyra was the residence of Perikle, a local dynast. The town was booming. At that time, the fortification wall around the Acropolis, terrace houses, a Heroon, and around 400 funerary monuments spread over 5 Necropoleis were built. The Roman Period inscriptions refer to Limyra as a metropolis with two votes as a member of the Lycian League. The Theatre and Roman Baths date back to this era. After that, during the Byzantine Period, the city became a bishopric, with the ruins of a Basilica and a Bishopric residence still visible today. By the 10th century, the Bishop’s seat moved to nearby Phoinix, a harbor city known today as Finike. Limyra was mostly abandoned by the 15th century and reoccupied as the current village in the mid-20th century.

A Submerged Marble Floor

A Submerged Marble Floor

The Ptolemaion, once glorious still an eye-catcher

When the Galatians invaded Asia Minor, Ptolemy II, the son of Alexander the Great’s successor, supported the city, thus saving it. The citizens dedicated a monument to their hero and called it the Ptolemaion. It must have been a glorious structure. Nowadays, it is mostly ruined, but upon completion, the Ptolemaion was a two-pieced structure of about 30 meters high. It had a cubic bottom part adorned with reliefs depicting the wars between the Greek heroes and the horsemen. On top of the cube stood four life-size lion statues protecting the building. The upper part of the Ptolemaion was a colonnaded circular temple of the Ionic order with a conical roof decorated with fish scale motifs, crowned with a sculpture of leaves and snakes. Parts of the conical roof are still on-site today.

Ptolemaion At Limyra

Ptolemaion At Limyra

Ptolemaion At Limyra
Ptolemaion At Limyra Surrounded By Water

Ptolemaion At Limyra Surrounded By Water

Ptolemaion At Limyra Surrounded By Water

The submerged Basilica and Colonnaded Street

The Byzantine city wall runs over the Ptolemaion, and as soon as you cross the door opening to the other side of the wall, you’re in for a surprise. Honestly, the first impression at Limyra isn’t all that exciting. Greenhouses surround the site, and most of the structures that are visible from the entrance aren’t that impressive. That changes the moment you discover the scenery at the back of the wall by the Ptolemaion when the setting becomes idyllic. This is what your visit to Limyra is all about. Streaming water, submerged ruins, and a lush setting. On a hot summer day, this is where the locals come for a swim, and what a unique pool they have!

Mr. Martin Seyer, head of the excavation team at Limyra got in touch after we published this post to point out that swimming at Limyra is forbidden. While we have not seen any signs on-site supporting this prohibition, we do support him in his efforts as an archaeologist to protect the submerged ruins from being damaged due to over-eager swimmers. If you’re still keen on swimming, don’t worry, the beaches of Finike are just a short drive away!

The Ruins Of The Basilica Are Clearly Visible

The Ruins Of The Basilica Are Clearly Visible

Part Of The Submerged Colonnaded Street With The Ptolemaion At The Back

Part Of The Submerged Colonnaded Street With The Ptolemaion At The Back

A stroll through Limyra

A further stroll through Limyra takes you past what is called experimental archaeology. And while we’ve visited many sites all over Turkey, it is the first time we saw an information board with that phrase on it. The archaeologists even gave their construction a name: Andron, which is the men’s room in ancient houses. The lovely construction mainly built out of wooden beams was built to gain insight into the style of the façades of the many rock-cut tombs in Lycia. Those façades are thought to imitate a wooden architecture. After a theoretical approach with models, the know-how was used to build new spaces for the archaeological mission at Limyra.

The Andron Experimental Archaeology In Limyra

The Andron Experimental Archaeology In Limyra

What Looks Like A Creek Is A Submerged Colonnaded Street

What Looks Like A Creek Is A Submerged Colonnaded Street

That archaeological mission has been ongoing for the last 50 years. During our visit, a team was excavating the area right next to the Cenotaph built for Gaius Caesar. The Cenotaph is one of the more substantial still standing structures at Limyra. It is, in essence, an empty tomb built for the grandson and prospective heir of Roman Emperor Augustus, who died in Limyra on February 21st, 4 AD. The structure used to be adorned with reliefs, some of which are now on display at the Antalya Archaeological Museum.

Cenotaph For Gaius Caesar At Limyra

Cenotaph For Gaius Caesar At Limyra

The Theatre & Roman Baths

The ancient city of Limyra is cut in two by a road these days. The Roman Theatre lies on the other side of the road, right next to the Roman Baths. The horseshoe structure was freestanding, and its original building dates back to the 2nd or 1st century BC, with serious alterations in the 1st century AD, after an earthquake had severely damaged it. The Theatre could seat around 20.000 spectators under a protective sun-sail, according to the information board next to it. Today, the Theatre is still partially buried, with four seating rows still hidden under the soil of the orchestra.

The Theatre Was Only Partly Excavated, Four More Seating Rows Are Still Buried

The Theatre Was Only Partly Excavated, Four More Seating Rows Are Still Buried

Roman Baths Adjacent To The Theatre

Roman Baths Adjacent To The Theatre

Limyra Necropolis

Don’t forget to head a little further up the road in the direction of Arykanda after your visit. You’ll see a lovely sarcophagus just before you reach one of Limyra’s Necropoleis. The rock-cut tombs are right next to the road and scattered all over the hill. Some of them are still half-buried, and we assume there are more tombs hidden under the road. In any case, it is a great addition to your visit, and it would be a shame if you missed it.

Part Of Limyra's Necropolis

Part Of Limyra’s Necropolis

Necropolis Near Limyra

Necropolis Near Limyra

If you want to read more about the excavations at Limyra, check out this report by Martin Seyer, head of the excavation team.

This may not be the type of site you’d plan a dedicated visit to if it takes you several hours to get there, but if you happen to be in the Finike area, this place is definitely worth a visit, especially if you combine it with nearby Rhodiapolis. For more practical advice for your Limyra visit, head to the tabs below.

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Depending on when you visit, you will have to pay a small entrance fee. The ticket booth isn’t always open, so you might be in luck, especially if you plan to go out of season.

Please read up on other travelers reviews on TripAdvisor to get an even better idea of what to expect. Just know we’ve visited this place personally and all photos are our own. Basically, what you see is what you get. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

If you are in the area, check out Arykanda, Rhodiapolis, or even Demre, where you can visit Saint-Nicholas Church, Myra, and Andriake. Kekova’s sunken city, and Olympos & Çıralı are only a tiny bit firther away.

If you’re visiting during the summer months, bring your swimgear, it’s so refreshing!

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Limyra is easy to reach and relatively well waymarked. From the main road D400 in Finike, take the road to Elmalı which passes next to Limyra.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Depending on when you visit, you will have to pay a small entrance fee. The ticket booth isn’t always open, so you might be in luck, especially if you plan to go out of season.

Please read up on other travelers reviews on TripAdvisor to get an even better idea of what to expect. Just know we’ve visited this place personally and all photos are our own. Basically, what you see is what you get. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

If you are in the area, check out Arykanda, Rhodiapolis, or even Demre, where you can visit Saint-Nicholas Church, Myra, and Andriake. Kekova’s sunken city, and Olympos & Çıralı are only a tiny bit firther away.

If you’re visiting during the summer months, bring your swimgear, it’s so refreshing!

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Limyra is easy to reach and relatively well waymarked. From the main road D400 in Finike, take the road to Elmalı which passes next to Limyra.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country here.

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

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How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

Work with us

Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

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Swim in Limyra\'s Basilica #ruins or while away the day in the shade of the many trees on this idyllic ancient site near #Finike. #Turkey
Read all about #Limyra in this post.