Knidos – Cnidus
The histroy of Cnidus parallels that of many of the coastal cities. Only a landfall for Paul, it is the Temple to Aphrodite that identifies the religious importance of the site. After the Persians had defeated the Lydian kingdom in 546 BC, they turned south to Caria. Threatened by the Persians in 546 BC, the Cnidians started to carve a canal to isolate themselves from the mainland. The Persian army arrived before their work was done, so they were forced to submit to Persian rule off and on until the time of Alexander the Great. By about 360 BC they had moved their city from present-day Datça to the tip of the peninsula.
Although Cnidus is best reached by boat from Marmaris or Bodrum, the sea around it has always had a reputation for being treacherous when the nortwest wind blows, and many boats have sunk in these waters. Cnidians built a causeway between the mainland and the small adjacent island almost as soon as they moved here. This gave them a double harbor, one safe against the northwest wind, one against the southeast.
The boat carrying Paul to Rome sought to put in at Cnidus before she turned out into the open Mediterranean.However, the winds prevented a landing, and the boat continued on a very rough crossing to Cyprus.
Cnidus was an important commercial city in the 4th century BC; it was also the home of a well-known medical school. Among its famous native sons were the mathematician Eudoxus, and the architect Sosistratur who built the lighthouse of Alexandria, the Pharos.
Cnidus now is better known for the circular Temple to Aphrodite where a nude statue (long since lost) scuplted by Praxiteles contributed to the esthetics of the rites love. The statue had been sculpted for Cos, but when those people saw that the goddess was nude they rejected it. Bought by the Cnidians, it attracted many tourists in addition to the art critics, the curious and the covetous. One of those interested was King nicomedes of Bithynia who wanted it so much for his own city that he offered to pay all the debts of Cnidus. Many of the other artistic works from Cnidus are in the British Museum.
Fethiye – Telmessus
Fethiye, the ancient Telmessus, played its part in Christian history as a Crusader stronghold. Today it is a port city on the east side of the large Bay of Fethiye. Almost completely rebuilt after the destructive earthquake of 1957, there is little left from its past. From Fethiye it is a short drive to Ölüdeniz (Dead Sea), a shalllow lagoon almost completely enclosed by a long sandy hook, ideal for swimming and sun bathing. In the heat of summer the resins from the wild flowers of the maquis-myrtle, sage and rosemary-make that drive fragnant. The 4th century BC rock tombs of Telmessus are on the southeast side of the city. Apparently they imitated the typical Lycian wooden houses of the time. Some may have been tombs of priests or priestesses since they
have temple façades with simulated Ionic columns. That of Amyntas even has imitation nails carved into the stone. The Christian congregation in Telmessus was important enough that it was represent at the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon in AD 451.On the acropolis are walls of a medieval castle probably built in the 12th or 13th century by the Knights of St. John, the same group that built the castle of St. Peter in Bodrum.
A small museum in the center of the city has a few items from the archaeological sites of the region, the most valuable of which are trilingual stelae from the Letoon.
Patara was a major port at the mouth of the Xanthus River (Esen Çayı) until it silted up and turned into a marsh, plagued with mosquitoes and malaria, much like Tarsus and Ephesus. Patara’s lost Temple to Apollo an its association with Paul and St. Nicholas connect it with religious history.
The buildings now visible there include the city’s triumphal triple arch (c. AD 100), the theater (intruded upon by shifting sands), the granary of Hadrian, some small temples, baths and a small basilica. Alexander the Great was here; Ptolemy II held it for a while; and Brutus was here during
his Lycian campaign (42 BC). Its harbor was one the largest and best on the Mediterranean coast. Its coast now is known for the sandy beach that stretches seemingly on forever.
The Temple of Apollo at Patara equaled that of the famous temple on the island of Delos in the reputation of its priests. People believed that Apollo lived on the island in the summer but spent the sunny winters in Lycian in Lycian Patara. The prophecies of the Patara temple were considered to be as accurate as those of Delphi in Grece, althugh none were of enough import to be reported by the ancient historians. Probably the temple was large and beautifully decorated, but little can be said about it now because it has not been discovered. Nor have the spring nor the vaporous chamber where its prophetess would have had her revelations. According to the historian Strabo, the founder of Patara was the son of Apollo and the nymph Lycia, a daughter of Xanthus. Other equally mythical founders are credited, including a Spanish girl who was carrying a “patara” – a bowl – of cakes that se intended to give to Apollo. She dropped it and the bowl floated ashore here, giving the city a reason for its name. The myth does not say why she was Spanish or what the city was called before her bowl turned up.
Patara figures in Christian history several times. It was a port of call on Paul’s third missionary journey when he and Luke stopped here enroute from Miletus to Jerusalem. They may have transshipped here from a small coastal vessel to one that could brave the open seas of the Mediterranean.
Patara was the birthplace of Nicholas (c. 300 AD) who became first the Bishop of Myra, then figured in the legend of the three girls who were saved from prostitution by his anonymous gift of gold (the origin of the sign of three balls on a pawn shop). Some centuries later he was transformed into Jolly Old St. Nick. Into the 15th century Patara was a stop on the route of pilgrims from Europe to Jerusalem.