Simena Castle, Demre Turkey
One of the top sights on the Demre-Kekova boat trip is the ancient city of Simena, which in modern-day Turkey is known as Kaleköy (meaning ‘castle village’). Located between Kaş and Demre, the village has an interesting blend of history and nature, with very little access by land but conveniently reachable by boat, making it an ideal stop for exploration.
Facing the village from the waterside, old stone houses can be seen scattered up the hillside leading to the ruins of Simena Castle at the top, which is the true highlight of the village. The history of Simena dates back to as far as the 4th century B.C, with the origins of the castle itself going back to the Roman and Byzantine periods. It is said to have been built by the Knights of Rhodes to fend off pirates who threatened to invade the area. Although the fortress walls are the most prominent feature of the castle nowadays, a small theatre can also be found within the castle ruins, which adds to its Lycian history.
The castle can be reached after a short but potentially strenuous hike from the harbourside along a winding, cobbled path. Take your time and be sure to wear good footwear, and your efforts will be rewarded with spectacular scenery from the top of the hillside.
As well as the castle ruins, a nearby cemetery further along the hill is also worth a visit. This ancient necropolis is home to numerous interesting towering Lycian sarcophagi which are situated along the ridge of the hillside, overlooking the sea and surrounded by luscious olive trees.
The panoramic views are truly breathtaking; Kaleköy village and harbour, the nearby tiny islands, and the famous Kerkova Island, all encompassed by the magnificent Mediterranean Sea. From a distance, you may even be able to spot the village of Üçağız, thanks to being 45 metres above sea level. This is a perfect photo opportunity to remember your trip around the region!
Back down below by the harbour, a single sarcophagus can be found emerging from the water, a reminder of the earthquake that submerged parts of Simena two millennia ago. Facing Kaleköy village on Kekova Island is the famous Sunken City where further ancient underwater ruins can be found. With no swimming allowed and only reachable by water, the Sunken City is a worthwhile addition to your boat trip so that you can piece the wonderful Simena-Kekova history together.
An unforgettable visit!