Simena village is ‘Mediterranean dream’
Simena (known today as Kaleköy in Turkey) is the only Mediterranean village in Turkey that is inaccessible by road. The only way to get to the ancient village is by boat, either from the port of Üçağız or Demre Çayağzı. The journey to Simena is breathtaking, passing Lycian cliff graves, romantic coves and the stunning sunken ruins of an ancient city that lies off the shores of Kekova Island.
Upon arriving in Simena, visitors are greeted by the astonishing sight of a Lycian Sarcophagus that lies submerged in water steps from the village’s small pier. The shore is lined with fishermen’s restaurants and “meyhanes” (Turkish tavernas). Simena is a rare Mediterranean dream: A sleepy village filled with fruit trees, white stone houses and cobblestone streets. A steep path leads to a fortress that stands guard over the village.
Built by the Knights of St. John from Rhodes, the fortress also boasts the ruins of an ancient temple and the smallest extant Lycian amphitheatre, with only seven rows and 300 theater seats. The land around the fortress is littered with huge sarcophagi, turning the area into an open-air museum. Although Simena is known as a Lycian town, its history dates as far back as the fourth century B.C. Lycian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman artifacts are around the village.
A deep solitude
Despite the fact that it is only 30 kilometers from Kaş, Simena has been spared the onslaught of tourism. The village has had electricity since 1985 and still lacks a mosque, post office, bank, clinic, pharmacy, and supermarket. Nevertheless, in recent years, it has begun to attract writers, artists and the highest echelons of Turkish and foreign society.
High society travelers, particularly from England, come here to escape the trails of modern life. Despite the fact that it only has small hotels (the largest of which has 10 rooms) and five decent restaurants at most, Simena has recently attracted the attention of international travel agencies.
During the day, the residents of Simena retreat to the cool comfort of homes. At night, the restaurants and meyhanes in the harbor are filled with laughter and life. If you are looking for a quiet escape from the trials and tribulations of modern life, look no further than Simena.
How to get there?
Simena is inaccessible by road. Taka a boat from Üçağız or Demre Çayı. Demre is 150 km from Antalya International Airport. Take the airport shuttle to Antalya Bus Station, and then a bus to Demre. Kaş is 150 km from Dalaman International Airport. Take a minibus from the airport to Fethiye Bus Station, then a bus to Kaş, and another from there to Üçağız. The easiest way to get to Simena is to fly to the airport and then to hire a car.
Don’t miss it
- Book before you go to the air-conditioned Simena Hotels. It may be hard to find a place there in the summer season.
- Simena’s restaurants offer small appetizers, fresh seafood and local Turkish dishes.
- Credit cards are not widely accepted. That is why you may need some cash.
- Make sure to bring a flashlight as the streets are dark at night.