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Uzuncaburç, Silifke

Uzuncaburç takes its name from the High Tower, a well-preserved Hellenistic watch tower, which is still a prominent landmark, which can also be seen from the sea. It is set 1000 metres above sea level in the wooded foothills of the Taurus. It was known to the Greeks as Olba and to the Romans as Diocaesarea.

The modern village, which has grown around the ruins, is a small settlement that refuses to become a tourist site. Only a few years ago did it get electricity. The locals make hand-made rugs known as çul and leather bags. And the local speciality is very much not Coca Cola but kenger kahve3si, coffee made from acanthus and pekmez, grape molasses. We had pekmez as part of our sumptuous breakfast spread on deck, eaten with thick yoghurt, or spread on fresh bread.

Uzuncaburç lacks the size and scale of Aspendos but it is atmospheric enough. Its neglected state adds a touch of charm. The most impressive ruins are Hellenistic. The temple of Zeus Olbios is one of the earliest Corinthian temples in Asia Minor. It was erected during the 3rd century by Seleucus I. At the western edge of the colonnaded street is the temple of Tyche, the goddess of chance, dating from probably the 2nd half of the 1st century AD.

From travel notes by Jacqueline de Gier for her article ‘A spectacular point of view’, Cornucopia 23

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