If you would like to learn more about the ancient cities of Lycia, look no further than the Museum of Lycian Civilizations near Demre harbour in Antalya province. Located southwest of the town centre, the museum is situated among the ruins of Andriake (Çayağzı) port, which was once part of the ancient city of Myra. These ruins serve as an interesting open-air museum leading you to the museum building further along.
The museum is considered a piece of Lycian history in itself, having been converted from a former Roman granary (known as Hadrian’s granary) which was discovered during excavations of the site. Due to its location among the ancient ruins of Andriake and the plethora of historical artefacts on display, the museum received great acclaim in the run-up to its opening in 2016. This 2nd-century structure is thought to have been built in 129 A.D. and remained surprisingly intact thanks to its solid foundations and thick stone walls. Although, there was some dismay that the roof of the granary has been reconstructed with a more modern-style.
From the visitor reception area, you can start your museum tour by following designated paths that take you past the archaeological remains of Andriake, including churches, an agora, Roman baths, and a synagogue. Also not to be missed is a huge reconstructed underwater cistern similar to one found in Istanbul. You may have to use your imagination a little to visualise how these structures used to look. The outdoor signs give limited information, but luckily the indoor museum helps fill in some missing gaps here. Being careful not to disturb the ruins, you can walk around them in some areas, which gives a more atmospheric feel and helps you to imagine when Andriake port still existed all those years ago.
Once you reach the end of the path, you will immediately notice the large granary opposite the harbour structures and monuments that continue further along. You can decide how much time to devote to walking through the eight sections of the museum showcasing works belonging to the Lycian cities and civilizations. Here you will find exhibitions housing more than 1000 historical artifacts, giving an insight into the religious, social, and economical systems that were once part of the Lycian, Roman, and Byzantine empires. You will get the chance to view items such as vases, kitchenware, jewellery, coins, and ancient marble sculptures. Not only this, but extensive information is provided about the history of specific Lycian cities such as Myra, Xanthos, and Patara, giving more insight into their early existence, geography, seamanship, as well as trade and cuisine.
Allow yourself some time to immerse yourself in the Lycian culture and imagine what life was like when this ancient port was still operating. You won’t be the only ones visiting either, as often goats, chickens, and the odd peacock are wandering around. There’s even a location here to do a spot of bird watching! If you have time at the end, you can finish off your visit by enjoying an authentic Turkish tea at the cafe, or by browsing through the museum gift shop, tempting you to buy a memento of your visit or a refreshing ice cream!
With a ticket costing just 10TL, we are sure you will agree that it was money well spent!