Picture yourself visiting one of Turkey’s many ancient sites. Are you on a guided tour or an excursion lead by a tour operator? Or are you somewhat looking for a more authentic experience and something off the beaten path? If you are interested in visiting a site that may be less impressive in size but is likely to leave you with far deeper impressions and an understanding of Lycian life, then consider exploring Sidyma. This virtually untouched site situated on the outskirts of the Xanthos Valley and aside the Lycian Way is a little remote but is guaranteed to be a rewarding visit.
Reoccupied Sidyma: life on ancient grounds
Just like Stratonikeia, Sydima is an abandoned ancient site that has been reoccupied by locals. The villagers have made creative use of ready-cut stones and pillars from the Roman and Byzantine era to build their current homes, and even the mosque. Nowadays, the entire village is declared an archaeological site. Hence, construction is prohibited here. In fact, even small alterations or renovations can result in a hefty fine. Upon arrival, the chances are that Bediha, the Muhtar’s (head of the village) wife will welcome you. Apart from offering you tea, she’ll also try to explain the village’s history to you, including the story about the fine they had to pay after putting up a temporary extension to their house, used as a terrace. (The exact spot where she is serving her tea.) It is the price they have to pay for living on ancient lands, but the village is their pride and joy, and they welcome visitors in the most generous way you can imagine.
Offering tea (çay) to visitors and travelers is a common thing in Turkey. Especially in small and relatively remote villages like this one, people are honored to welcome you and being a guest in Turkey is all part of the experience.
The serenity of an untouched site
Sidyma is untouched. The only thing that has changed is that people came back and started living on the abandoned site. Other than that, there are no ongoing or past excavations, no restorations, and no facilities. Only nature, history, and today’s village life in Turkey. Apart from one still standing structure with a 9m high wall, you won’t see any significant buildings here. The city used to have a castle and a (not very well preserved) theatre in its glory days, but today, the main attractions are the many Sarcophagi spread along the necropolis. Meadows and fields surround them in a green and charming valley. Start your discovery walk of Sidyma at the mosque. To the left of it, a narrow, stone covered path will lead you around the village to the necropolis. We feel these pictures speak for themselves, but if you want to read more about the history of Sidyma, you can do so here.
The natural setting is mainly why your visit will be such a serene experience. You are in another time and place. 🙂 Impressive views await you during your visit. In winter, the snow topped mountains add a dramatic effect. Prepare for encountering pretty details and greenery all over the place. The perfect setting for an enchanting afternoon!
The times we’ve wished we understood Greek in Turkey… It must be amazing to be able to read and understand the inscriptions on these Sarcophagi. And, once again, arches prove to be a remarkably stable building technique. They are passing the test of time with flying colors! The highest remaining building in Sidyma is most likely a Roman imperial heroön or temple-tomb. It has been built on top of an earlier structure, using stones from previously collapsed buildings.
Practical information to visit Sidyma, Turkey
Sidyma (or Dodurga in today’s Turkey) lies between the towns of Fethiye and Kalkan, and you reach it by leaving the D400 connecting both cities. We recommend that you consider taking the scenic route from Ölüdeniz to Dodurga, which will offer you some of the most amazing views before diving into history.
You won’t find any hotels in Sidyma, but the locals are more than happy to accommodate you or allow you to camp in the mosque garden. If you want confirmation, you can call the Muhtar (head of the village). We are happy to provide you with his number upon request.
All local airports in Turkey, including Dalaman and Antalya, have smooth connections with Istanbul airports if required. You’ll find cheap flight options here. Or you can use the search widget on the side to quickly find the most affordable and best flights available.
The travel guides below will help you while preparing your trip and getting out and about in Turkey. We’ve included the ‘Lycian Way’ book as Sidyma lies on this marvelous hiking trail. Make sure to read our Turkey Travel resources page, which contains essential information about traveling to Turkey, including links to the E-visa website and much more.