Surprising Sura & its unusual fish oracle

Sura (or Soura, as it is mentioned in some sources) is little-known – or even unknown – to most travelers. This Lycian settlement lies about 5 km away from the ancient site of Myra, of which it was a dependency, and is cut in two by the main road connecting Demre to Kaş. You may have driven past it already, and noticed the beautiful sarcophagus that dominates the small Necropolis.

But there is more to Sura than meets the eye, as this used to be a place where people came to seek a prophecy from the gods in classical antiquity. Here, a fish oracle was at the center of attention for those soliciting advice from the priests. Check out surprising Sura in this article.

Sura Necropolis Seen From The Road

Sura Necropolis Seen From The Road

A small but beautiful Necropolis

Sura extends around a slope above a swampy inlet, rising steeply on one side to about 100 m above sea level. It is there, at the top, that you’ll find Sura’s small Necropolis; an intriguing collection of Lycian rock tombs, sarcophagi, and stelai with Lycian inscriptions.

You can spot one of the more spectacular tombs from the road. It is a type of pillar tomb, similar to the famous ones in Xanthos, placed on a rock-cut chamber tomb. It is estimated this tomb dates back to the 4th or 5th century BC, and it is very well-preserved.

4th Century Bc Pillar And Chamber Tomb Combi

4th Century Bc Pillar And Chamber Tomb Combi

Detail Of The Rock Cut Chamber Tomb

Detail Of The Rock Cut Chamber Tomb

Near this pillar tomb, you’ll notice a few fascinating rock-carved stelai inscribed with lists of names of priests attached to the cult of Apollo Surius. The consensus is that Sura was a sacred precinct, only ever inhabited by priests. You’ll find several of the stelai on site.

The Rock Cut Stelai And Their Lycian Inscriptions

The Rock Cut Stelai And Their Lycian Inscriptions

Check out the beautiful Lycian sarcophagi a little further away, some of which have a lid decorated with lions that seem to be coming from within the tomb, paws & head jumping out first. Take the time to wander around, and you’ll discover a whole range of more modest-looking but still spectacularly well-preserved Lycian sarcophagi.

Wandering Around Sura's Necropolis

Wandering Around Sura’s Necropolis

Amazing, Right?

Amazing, Right?

Click here for a map of Sura

Sura’s fame: the Temple of Apollo & the fish oracle

While we have little visuals to support this section due to the wet conditions of the swamp surrounding the fish oracle and the Temple of Apollo at Sura, we do want to share its fascinating story with you. After all, we are convinced we shall return there at a later date to make more photos of that specific area.

The Apollo Surius Temple is a small temple that stands on the edge of a marshy inlet that used to be Sura’s harbor. Its walls still feature inscriptions of devotions paid to Sozon, a local Anatolian deity attached to Apollo. Nearby, you’ll find the remains of a Byzantine church, built after the pagan temple was no longer in use.

Several accounts and stories explain the way the oracle worked. All include the use of fish to predict if omens were good or bad. In the case of the fish oracle at Sura, the most commonly accepted version is that the priests used a whirlpool in which the fish appeared. This whirlpool was a natural phenomenon where springs used to well up in the sea at the time.

Even nowadays, with the sea reduced to a stream, these processes are still visible. The springs give a swirling effect to the water, creating ‘a well of seawater’.

The story goes that priests would throw spits with pieces of meat into the whirlpool. After that, the pool would swell up, and a variety of fishes appeared. The oracle was drawn based on the species and their behavior. Researchers believe that the priests were able to control the swelling of the pool by controlling the flow of water from the large spring.

The Apollo Temple Remains At Sura

The Apollo Temple Remains At Sura

We’ll make sure to post more pictures of that area after we visit next, equipped with wellies to conquer the marshy lands.

Final thoughts on Sura

Visiting Sura’s Necropolis is easy. This place isn’t fenced off and lies right next to the main Demre – Kaş road, just above Andriake. You’ll find the exact location on the map below this post, or you can use our Turkey Trip Planner to get directions to Sura from your area.

Technically speaking, this isn’t even an ancient site, but it is worth visiting! If you’re on a tight schedule, just pull over for a quick stop to check out the magnificent pillar tomb and the rock-cut chamber tomb below it.

A Clear Example Of Why They Call It Rock Cut

A Clear Example Of Why They Call It Rock Cut

If you have a little more time, and you’re wearing your walking shoes, head over to the inlet below to admire the Temple of Apollo Surius, the Byzantine church, and the fish oracle. It’s a lovely, albeit steep walk down some beautifully rock-carved steps before you reach the ruins. You won’t be disappointed, as – besides the ruins – this is also a lovely stretch of nature.

You’ll be glad to learn that this is also a dot on the Lycian Way map. So, for anyone aiming to walk the Lycian, or a part of it, make sure to allocate some time to check this place out.

Click here to go to our page with essential resources to walk the Lycian Way.

✔️ Have you been to Sura? Then please head over to our Turkey Trip Planner to leave a review. Alternatively, if you plan on visiting, you can add the site to your bucket list.
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Sources: perseus.tufts.edu

The Lycians in Literary and Epigraphic Sources, by Trevor R. Bryce, Trevor Bryce, Jan Zahle
If you’re visiting during the wetter months, the fish oracle and Apollo Surius Temple may be inaccessible. In any case, wear good shoes! This isn’t a destination on its own, but the roadside location makes it a perfect stop on the road to somewhere else.

Here’s a link to the reviews on TripAdvisor for this place. Questions? Send us a message using our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

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! 😉

The sunken ruins of Kekova, Andriake, Saint-Nicholas Church, and Myra are all nearby and absolutely stunning places to visit. They’d make a great combination with a stop at Sura!

You must have guessed it already, we’re independent travelers. Joining groups for excursions or activities isn’t really our cup of tea.

But we fully understand that not everyone is keen on exploring Turkey on their own. That’s when Get Your Guide comes in handy. They offer plenty of activities and sightseeing tours that you can pre-book online.

Check out this boat cruise from Fethiye to Demre with a stop at Sura too.

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! 😉

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! 😉

If you’re visiting during the wetter months, the fish oracle and Apollo Surius Temple may be inaccessible. In any case, wear good shoes! This isn’t a destination on its own, but the roadside location makes it a perfect stop on the road to somewhere else.

Here’s a link to the reviews on TripAdvisor for this place. Questions? Send us a message using our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

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! 😉

The sunken ruins of Kekova, Andriake, Saint-Nicholas Church, and Myra are all nearby and absolutely stunning places to visit. They’d make a great combination with a stop at Sura!

You must have guessed it already, we’re independent travelers. Joining groups for excursions or activities isn’t really our cup of tea.

But we fully understand that not everyone is keen on exploring Turkey on their own. That’s when Get Your Guide comes in handy. They offer plenty of activities and sightseeing tours that you can pre-book online.

Check out this boat cruise from Fethiye to Demre with a stop at Sura too.

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! 😉

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.

Prepare your trip

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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Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

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Surprising Sura & its unusual fish oracle