I have been known to say,” If you've seen one ruin you've seen them all." So when my husband suggested we visit the ruins at Kaunos while on holiday in Dalyan,Turkey I was a bit dubious. It involved a ride in a rowing boat across the River Kalbis and a twenty minute walk to the site (my pace). I am a very obliging person so I decided to go with the flow and venture on the rowing boat to visit the ruins. It was a tiny rowing boat and although the river looks small all the boats passing up and down make it very choppy. I couldn't take any photos during the crossing as I was holding on very tightly with both hands and getting out of the boat onto the old rickety platform was not for the fainthearted. We were greeted by an elderly Turkish woman who told us she was, "The Mammy" her daughters who were around my age took it in turns to row tourists back and forth across the river for only a few lira. Mammy was also the owner of an outdoor eating place and tried to convince us to stay and eat her pancakes. The Turkish people have this wonderful way of making you think all the food and drink is on the house and they are doing you some great favour but of course you are presented with the bill before you leave. We left on our trek and promised to eat on the way back to the boat again. It was still early morning so the walk to the site was very quite in fact the only people we saw were at two stalls selling fruit and fruit juices. The fields are full with Pomegranate trees, and we were offered orange and pomegranate juice at both stalls. The first one was an elderly gentleman who posed to have his photo taken. He was making pomegranate juice. We promised we would buy some on the way back, then we came to another stall further up the road. This lady was lovely and her table was spotlessly clean and what a lovely show she made of her goods. We stopped on our way back and she instructed me to sit down on her chair and sample some fruits and a cup of her juice. I tasted what was a cross between a peach and a apple but as she told me the name in Turkish I don't remember what it was. We bought a jar of her honey, fruit and some bottles of juice, it was delicious. It was a pleasant walk to the ruins. All we could hear was birdsong and some goats bleating in nearby fields. I could smell that special smell I always associate with Turkey. I smell it as I step from the plane at Dalaman airport, it's a sweet, warm smell and it immediately says holidays to me. We had to pay to enter the site but it wasn't much and it goes towards the continuing excavation. Kaunos is the ancient city of Caria. It has been found that the site dates back to 3,000 BC and has seen Persian,Hellenic,Roman and Byzantium civilisations. A fortress, six temples, a theatre, Roman baths, a church and a palestra (sports arena) are just a few of the buildings that have been discovered.
There are steps leading to what was a theatre and the pictures on the walls describe the stages of the excavation and rebuilding and how it was made safe for visitors. We sat on the stone benches and soaked in the atmosphere of bygone times. Further down a tour guide was telling a group of American tourists all about what went on there and we strained our ears to listen. He said that it had most certainly been used for performing plays but when the Romans came it would have hosted gladiators. This sent a chill through me . I sat there, looking around wondering who the previous occupants of my seat would have been in Roman times and what they had watched taking place in the arena below. How many other people have sat in the same spot and wondered about it as I had? Kaunos is huge and very well organised to enable you to walk around as many buildings as possible without damaging anything. As we wandered about I was imagining what it would have been like for the people whose footsteps I was walking in. They were said to be a sickly people tinged with green, this was due to Malaria being prevalent in the area. Greek geographer, philosopher and historian Strabo (63BC-24 AD) said, "The people of Kaunos are pitifully unhealthy and the duration of their lives are as short as leaves." How very sad.
As our morning spun into early afternoon we walked back to Mammy's outdoor eating place and had home-made Turkish pancakes and a cool drink. It was so peaceful sitting watching the little boat being rowed back and forth across the river bringing new visitors to Kaunos . It really is well worth a visit and the views from the site across the river and beyond are fantastic.
My tip is to go in the early morning when it’s cooler and before the tourist buses get there. The walk to the ruins is not hard, I'm not a walker but we took our time ,just wear sensible foorwear.