Monday, 12 July 2010

The Pirate Coast

The southern Turkish coast, north of Cyprus, is rugged and wild. The Taurus Mountains in the background rise high and jagged, sending everything tilting down towards the sea at a sharp angle. The whole region is fragrant with pinewoods and myrtle. The bright green slopes, the dazzling blue sky and the turquoise and deep lapis of the sea create a rich background to life here. The sun shines on at least three hundred days of the year.

 This area has been inhabited since very ancient times.The ancient entrance to the Underworld, where the River Styx flows, can still be visited [by the intrepid] near the little town of Kizkalesi.You can hear the mainly underground river roaring along as you descend into the grotto, which quickly becomes dark and slippery. This is the Cave of Heaven [Cennet in Turkish]. A little further up the hillside is the chasm of Hell [Cehennem]. Prisoners to be punished were cast down into this horribly deep maw. The only way to get in - or out - alive, is on a rope....

The river reaches the coast at Narlikuyu, and flows into the sea after passing through the Greek and then Roman bathhouse with its mosaic of the Three Graces. This is now a one room museum, opened up as required when tourists arrive.

To preserve the mosaic, the water has been diverted back underground at this point [very close to the sea]. It is said that bathing in the water of this river keeps you young. In olden days the pirates put into the bay to take on supplies of this fresh water where it flowed into the sea. Now the rivermouth is firmly in the middle of an open air fish restaurant, where it is the main attraction.

Pirates are only seen on Sundays when they run hour long boat trips from Bohsak Bay or Tasucu Port along the coast to Tisan and back. Of course, any other activities are kept as secret as ever.


  1. The waiter at the restaurant - who looked about 20 - assured me he was 75 but bathed in the river water each morning....and we all enjoyed a laugh.

  2. Beth, thanks for letting me know about your blog. I love hearing about the realities surrounding the mythology I love.

  3. Thank you, Flossie, for giving my blog some publicity. I visit this part of Turkey each summer and am amazed at the number of sites that we know mostly from legend. There are Greek temples and shrines still [just] standing, vast numbers of ancient ruins and a pilgrim trail. Then there are Armenian and Byzantine remains and even a Norman castle at Anamur. A little further east is Tarsus.... etc. And the people are so kind and delighted to welcome tourists.

  4. So fascinating and interesting Beth and I thought I had left a comment once before, but perhaps not - losing the plot a lot of late. Gorgeous photos/pictures too. Seems to be lots of hard work has gone into research once again. Thanks.