Aperlai Bay, Demre, Turkey

Another recommended ancient city along the Lycian Way is Aperlai (or Aperlae), located between Kaş and Demre. On the west side of the Sıçak peninsula is where you can find Asar or Aperlai Bay. The original name of the area is ‘Aprilia’, which translates to ‘River Strait’.

Aperlai was a small port city which acted as head of the Lycian Confederation consisting of other members such as Apollonia and Simena. According to coin research, the history of this ancient city dates back to the 5th or 6th century B.C. The city was surrounded by walls and towers and survived for about 1,300 years until the end of the 7th century A.D.

Muslim conquests and earthquakes eventually destroyed the city, with parts slowly sinking into the sea. Aperlai has never been rebuilt, although evidence of repairs on a church suggests that squatters or some stragglers may have remained in the area.

Nowadays, the ruins of the walls and towers can be seen along the shoreline, and Lycian sarcophagi are scattered throughout the area. Some ruins, including a sarcophagus, can emerge from the sea, with the lower parts submerged in the deep blue waters, just like at the Sunken City of Kekova. The area likely still has much to be discovered since few excavations have been executed up until now.

Since it is difficult to reach this archaeological site by land (there is no road access from the main road), most visitors arrive by gulet or yacht. As well as passing the underwater ruins and hillside tombs by boat, a snorkelling or sea kayaking trip may allow you to get closer to the ruins and would be particularly enjoyable when the sea is calm and crystal clear.

Since Aperlai is among one of the places listed as a protected area, activities such as diving and uncovering old shipwrecks are prohibited. If you decide to swim in the area, we recommend bringing aqua shoes to reach the shore area, as the underwater ruins can make access quite slippery.

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