Travels and Discoveries in the Levant/Volume 1/Tour in Lycia by Mr D. E. Colnaghi

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Thursday, March 16, 1854.—Accompanied by Mr. A. Berg, left Rhodes this evening in a sailing vessel for Castel Rosso, on our way to Lycia. A favourable breeze carried us on briskly, so that we soon left the moonlit towers and walls of the old town behind us. Castel Rosso, the ancient Megiste, is a small island, situated about sixty miles east of Rhodes, and very near the coast of Asia Minor. The town is placed partly on a promontory, which juts out into the sea, and partly at the end of the bay formed by this cape and the opposite coast of Asia. On the summit of the promontory is a fine old castle built of a red stone, a memorial of the time when the Knights of Rhodes possessed the island. The houses of the modern town are mostly built of the same red stone, and present a very picturesque appearance. The population of the island is from six to seven thousand. The men are nearly all sailors, and a fair number of vessels belong to the island. Though rich and prosperous, the Casteloriziotes bear a bad character, and are noted pirates. The island, which is about 18 miles in circumference, is very barren, being formed of rugged limestone mountains. The only water the inhabitants drink is collected in cisterns outside the town.

On the mountain side, by the harbour, is a small Doric rock tomb. I walked to the top of the mountain behind the town. On the summit are two or three Greek chapels, and the remains of a mediæval fortress. To the left of the fortress are the remains of some Hellenic walls, composed of large and beautifully squared blocks of limestone. The ruins seem to form the corner tower of a walled enceinte; the rest of the building is buried under a mound of earth. There are several cisterns within these fortifications, and a well, the only one on the island. I now crossed the mountain ridge, and descending between two hills into a small valley, found a small mediæeval tower, now used as a chapel. In a valley beyond this were some carefully squared Hellenic blocks, near which is a monastery. We then rounded the hill. On the plain were several ancient blocks, and by the mountain side the remains of a built tomb for two people. It must have been a lofty structure, but, even while I was there, some boys were engaged in breaking up the blocks and carrying them away for some more modern building.

Saturday, 18th.—From Castel Rosso to Antiphellus (Antiphilo) is a pleasant sail across a land-locked bay. Before ns rose the tine mountainous coast of Asia Minor, with the beautiful bays of Vathy (the deep) and Sevedo; behind us were the rocky mountains of Castel Rosso. As we passed on, we made out first the ruins of the theatre, then some Hellenic walls, and as we neared the shore groups of sarcophagi were visible.

The modern village of Antiphilo consists of a few cottages and storehouses for the Valonea which is brought down for exportation from the forest of Œnium. The ancient ruins consist of the theatre, which is of Hellenic architecture, and contains twenty-six rows of well-finished seats. It is built of large squared blocks of limestone well fitted together, and has no proscenium. Large limestone sarcophagi are scattered all over the valley: sometimes they are hewn out of the rock itself The only ornament on them is a square tablet with a Greek inscription, setting forth the name and titles of the deceased, whose bones have long since been scattered to the winds, for all these sarcophagi have been broken open. On the side of the hill facing the sea are two rock tombs—one is square, and entirely hewn out of the rock. On either side, as you enter the tomb, is the couch for the dead, having an ornament in bas-relief round the recess. At the head of the tomb is a frieze of little figures about 6 inches high, holding each other's hands. The other tomb is cut out in the ordinary Lycian style, with a projecting roof The rock is cut so as to represent a beam supported on logs of wood, an imitation, probably, of the ordinary houses of the period. The houses of the modern peasants, in many instances, are built on the same plan. Below, on the front of the tomb, panels are cut in the rock with projecting mullions on either side. On this tomb is an inscription in Lycian as well as Greek. In the valley near Port Vathy are two more tombs; the largest of Ionic, the second of Lycian character. To the east of the modern village are other groups of sarcophagi in picturesque postions, and, where the rock permits, a tomb is hollowed out. One sarcophagus towers above the rest: it is of limestone, supported on a hollow pedestal, on which is a long Lycian inscription. The sarcophagus is plain, except at either side, where it is panelled. In the panels of the lid are bas-reliefs. The knobs, which arc usually left on the lids of sarcophagi, are here sculptured into lions' heads. There is a fine group of rock tombs on the mountain behind the village. One has an arched roof, and has a Gothic look; the front is cut into panels. A Roman and a Lycian inscription are cut over the portal, but they have no connection the one with the other. From this point the view is magnificent: across the bay rises the rock of Castel Rosso; on the right, surrounded by lofty mountains covered with dark green shrubs, lies Port Vathy; on the low hills below are tin; rock tombs, the theatre, and picturesque groups of sarcophagi; on the left the promontory which forms Sevedo Bay sweeps boldly round.

Tuesday, 21st.—From Antiphellus to Cyaneæ is a ride of about seven or eight hours. The road leads in an easterly direction over the mountain behind the village. The vegetation in the valleys and ravines we passed was luxuriant, but the mountains rocky and barren. The country soon becomes more open, and we passed several encampments of Yuruks, or nomad Turks. They live in tents formed of bent twigs covered with skins, matting, or branches, or else in little wooden huts raised on poles above the ground, and with a door about 2 feet high, through which they manage to creep. They encamp in the winter in the valleys, and in summer remove with their flocks and herds to the mountains. They seem a simple and hospitable people. The women do not veil their faces, but wear a loose cloth veil which falls on the shoulders over a high turban. Sometimes this veil is tucked round the face under the chin as a protection against the sun.

At the end of a valley about three hours from Antiphilo we found a single sarcophagus, with a Greek inscription much defaced. Crossing a low hill, and passing two cisterns, we soon reached the end of the mountain. Below us lay an immense fertile plain, and beyond it mountain rose above mountain, the highest peaks of which were thickly covered with snow. We descended part of the way down the mountain but, instead of coming to the plain, turned off to the east, and passed through a small stony valley separated by a range of hills from the plain. In an open space near this we saw some plain limestone sarcophagi with inscriptions. Hence we descended into a fertile plain, and passed by the village of Sarla, about ten minutes distant from which we observed the rums of a mediæval building. We now ascended a small gorge between two hills, with pine trees on either side. This soon opened into a plain, and on a mountain opposite we saw the rains of one of the three cities of Cyaneæ. The fields were covered with a little blue flower, from which the name of Cyaneæ (κυάνεα) may have been derived. Jaghu is a small village situated in a little valley beneath the ruined city, where we halted.

Wednesday, 22nd.—From Jaghù the road to Cyaneæ is by a steep and stony momitain path. In parts the road is ancient, and, half-way up, cut in the rock, on the right hand side of the pathway, is a small bas-relief representing two groups of horses. In the upper division are two standing still; in the lower, one galloping towards another standing still. This bas-relief is much defaced. There are three rock tombs—mere holes cut in the rock just above this bas-relief A little further on we came to a group of sarcophagi of the Roman period. One of them is much ornamented; the lid is cut so as to represent overlapping leaves. In a few minutes more we reached the walls of the city, which are for the most part Byzantine or mediæval. The foundations of the houses and the directions of some of the streets of the old city can still be made out, though the whole is thickly overgrown with brushwood. There are some large vaulted buildings, and the walls and doors of temples formed of large blocks of limestone beautifully squared. One gateway is very beautiful, ornamented with a rich pattern of the Roman period. The ground is strewn with columns fluted and plain, dentils, and fragments of all kinds, including one or two inscriptions. None of the ruins inside the city walls appear to be of earlier date than the Roman empire. Outside the city gates on the north side of the hill the walls are partly of Hellenic masonry. On a lower hill is a long street of tombs, with sarcophagi picturesquely placed in the midst of brushwood. Here are also the ruins of some large public buildings. The theatre is situated on the south face of the lower hill; it is of Greek form, and measures 165 feet in diameter; there are twenty-four rows of seats, twelve above the diazoma, ten are visible below it.

On the perpendicular and rocky side of the city hill which faces the south are many rock tombs. Among them a group of three together is remarkable. They consist of a square tomb with a projecting front between two arched tombs; the rock out of which they are cut is painted blue and red. Close to these is a rock tomb and sarcophagus. The tomb is a square one, and is cut out of the solid rock; the sarcophagus is placed on it. In the panels of the lid are bas-reliefs, on one side a draped male figure seated, on the other a draped female figure with a girl standing before her and holding her by the hand. The knobs on the roof are sculptured into lions heads. A little to the right, below these, is a very fine Ionic tomb, cut in the red limestone. It consists of a, portico surmounted by a pediment, supported in the centre by a graceful Ionic column. The front inside the portico is panelled in the usual way. On the architrave above the door is a long and well preserved Greek inscription of a good period. Above the tomb is a small sarcophagus.

Friday, 24th.—From Jaghù to Deriaghassy,[1] at the mouth of the Dembra Gorge, the road leads over the mountains in an easterly direction; the fields at first covered with the little blue flowers we had observed on approaching Cyaneæ In about two hours and a half we reached the end of the mountains on this side, and began to descend into a magnificent plain, through which a silver river wound its way; on its banks fine myrtles and oleanders were growing. Beyond, the dark and stern-looking mountains in the distance formed a fine contrast with this rich plain. In about three hours from the top of the mountain, and having crossed the river, which was both wide and deep, we reached the water-mill where we intended to take up our quarters.

The cathedral at Deriaghassy is a fine building of Byzantine architecture, and rises in solitary grandeur from the plain. All the interior decoration is gone, but the walls remain, and the plan of the church is still perfect. The porch, the pronaos, the body of the church covered with a dome, the apsis, and the stairs which led to the women's gallery, may all be traced. Baptisteries of octagon shape stand on the north and south side. An accurate plan of this cathedral is given by Spratt and Forbes (Lycia, i. p. 105), so I contented myself with making a, few photographs of the interior.

On a summit of a lofty mountain at the mouth of the Dembra Gorge are the ruins of a small city. The greater part of the walls are Byzantine or mediæval, but there are some remains of Cyclopean and Hellenic architecture. The view from the top of the mountain looks down on one side to the dark and grand gorge, on the other across the plain. There are two or three rock tombs on the sides of the mountain, and two rock tombs and a sarcophagus cut out in a point of rock behind the mill.

Tuesday, 28th.—From Deriaghassy we proceeded to Myra, about seven hours' journey, on camels. We passed through the Dembra Gorge; the river was too full and rapid to permit of our proceeding on horseback. We crossed and re-crossed the stream at least twenty times. The scenery was very grand. At one place the mountains are rocky and barren, at another covered with shrubs and trees; at intervals fine pine-trees lined the path near the river bank. Sometimes the mountains curved in on either side, thus widening the gorge; at others spurs of the hills stretched out nearly across the narrow ravine. We saw three bears, a mother and two cubs, gently trotting along the side of a barren mountain. We halted at a mill near the centre of the gorge, not far from which are some ancient ruins. In six hours we reached the end of the defile. A ruined Hellenic watch-tower commands the entrance on the left. We took up our lodgings at the Monastery of St. Nicholas, about an hour further on, in the plain of Myra. It is situated in the centre of a large square, formed of walls composed of large cushioned blocks of stone of the Roman period; each wall is about 300 feet in length. Spratt conjectures that this building may have been an agora or market-place. The two gateways face the sea and the ancient port. The monastery formerly contained the bones of St. Nicholas, the patron of Greek sailors; but these relics were taken away by the Russians during the Greek revolution, the Emperor Nicholas sending in exchange a portrait of the saint, which is placed in the church and held in due veneration. The old priest who attended to the church, and was well known to travellers, died six months before our arrival.

The ruins of Myra are most interesting, but are well known. The theatre is situated on the western edge of the plain at the foot of the mountain, and close to a fine group of rock tombs. It is an immense building, the diameter of which, according to Mr. Cockerell, is 360 feet. It is of the Roman period: nearly all the seats are perfectly preserved, and on either side are vaulted entrances, through which galleries conducted the spectator to the

body of the building. Part of the proscenium is preserved. The

Plate 16.

Travels & discoveries in the Levant Vol-1-Myra Rock Tomb.png


London. Published by Day & Son, Lithrs to the Queen.

doorways have a rich ornament round the architraves and lintels,

of the same character as that on the temple gate at Cyaneæ The column standing at the side of the proscenium has a rich Corinthian capital.

The rock tombs at Myra are divided into two groups,—those by the theatre, and those on the side of the mountain leading to the entrance of the Dembra Gorge. The first group is very rich—tomb rises above tomb halfway up the mountain side. Some of the tombs have pediments and bas-reliefs, others again are of the simple Lycian form, with projecting roofs, panels, and mullions. (See Plate 16.) One or two stand entirely out from the rock. Inside the portico of a Lage tomb, called by Spratt "The Lover's Tomb," of the Lycian form, the following inscription is roughly scratched on the wall:—


"Moschus loves Philiste the (daughter) of Demetrius."

The second group contains those tombs with sculptures so fully described by Sir Charles Fellows, in his interesting work on Lyeia, Among these tombs is a fine one with a pedimental façade of the Ionic order. The body of the tomb is entered by a square doorway, on either side of which is a square half-column with mullions, which have been surmounted by a lion's head. Beyond these were round columns; above the doorway nms a frieze of draped male and female figures, reclining and standing in various attitudes—apparently a funereal subject. The sculptures are of a good period. On the pediment is sculptured, in low relief, a spirited combat between a Lycian lion and a bull: the lion has seized his adversary by the neck, and the bull is butting at him with his horns.

The Turkish burial-ground near the small village in the plain is full of ancient fragments.

Passing above the second group of rock tombs, and having ascended a few steps cut in the rock, we came to a wall composed of Hellenic blocks, which .supports the narrow pathway; a little further on are more steps, and a small sarcophagus cut out of. the rock. On the rock on the left are some niches. The top of the mountain is reached by a steep and stony path on the north side. On the summit is a castle of an oblong form, and, for the most part, of mediæval architecture; but here and there are the remains of Cyclopean walls. The square tower on the north-west side is partly built of large square blocks. The whole length of the castle is about 180 paces.

Monday, April 3rd.—From Myra we proceeded in a country boat to Deliktash. We embarked from a little bay; on the promontory which formed it are the ruins of a Byzantine watch-tower or lighthouse. Till sunset the wind favoured us, but, as it failed then, we lay to for the night in a beautiful little creek, this side of Cape Chelidonia. In the morning we doubled the cape and entered the Gulf of Pamphylia. At noon we passed the Bay of Adrasan, with its fine pine-covered mountains, and soon after saw Mount Chimæra with its snow-capped summit towering among the clouds. We anchored near Deliktash at 3 p.m. There are only two or three huts near the shore, inhabited by Greeks. The Yoorouk village, situated about ten minutes from the shore, consists of a few wicker tents covered with skins, and two or three huts. There is a large export of pine-wood from this place—either in planks or logs.

Wednesday, 5th.—The road to the Chimæra fire lay across the plain, over a winding stream by the Yoorouk village. Near the burial-ground, which is filled with ancient fragments, we found two sarcophagi hollowed out of the rock; one full size, the other for a child. We still passed along the plain through the most luxuriant vegetation; carub trees, and myrtle and laurel bushes abounded. In about half an hour we came to a point where the level ground is terminated by the mountains, which on one side are of limestone, on the other of serpentine. The hill sides were covered with beautiful shrubs, and there were several varieties of orchids among the wild flowers. We ascended the mountain side on the left, rather before coming to the den of the plain, and in a quarter of an hour arrived at the remains of a Byzantine chapel, to which a monastery was probably attached. Large blocks with inscriptions, which may be portions of the Temple of Vulcan, are lying about, and here issues out of the rock the Chimæra fire. The principal flame proceeds from behind an arched opening in the rock, and smaller flames dart out from crevices round the larger. A second flame issues from a little pit close by. The flame burns steadily, and was of, when we saw it, about the same volume as would issue from a moderate fireplace. It is of a dark colour, like a wood fire. The smell resembles that of a mixture of sulphuric ether, spirits of wine, and iodine. The soot which is made by the flame is said to be good for sore eyes. This fire has been known to burn for 3,000 years. According to Greek mythology, it was on the lofty mountain close by that the Chimæra, with lion's head, goat's body, and serpent's tail, dwelt; and it was on this spot that the monster was killed by Bellerophon. The shepherds cook their dinners by this natural fire, which it is reported will not cook stolen goods. Down the side of the ravine, near the flame, there flows a beautiful little mountain stream.

The ruins of the city of Olympus are situated close to the village of Deliktash. We passed along the seashore for five minutes to the south till we came to a lofty rock covered with the ruins of mediæval buildings. This rock was probably the ancient acropolis. The rock here forms an arched entrance, which, when the sea is high, forms the only passage to the ruined city. From this rock the modern village takes the name of Deliktash, or perforated rock. We were now in a beautiful little valley, almost choked up with bushy bay-trees, among which are the ruins of Olympus. For the most part these ruins are Byzantine or mediæval; but here and there we saw large blocks and the foundations of ancient buildings. We at length reached a fine gateway about 18 feet high, with a beautiful ornament round the architrave. Close by is a perfectly preserved inscription, setting forth all the titles of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Large columns and capitals (one of the latter I measured 2 1/2 feet in diameter), and other blocks are lying about in confusion. The inscriptions we found were mostly Byzantine Olympus flourished chiefly under the Romans.

Saturday, 8th.—We now retraced our steps, and proceeded by laud to Phenika, where we took ship for Rhodes. Our road lay first through the ruined city. The narrow valley in which it is situated terminates in a fine gorge, which opens out into another valley. We turned from here to the right, leaving Mount Chimæra on our right, and the Bay of Adrasan on our left. Sometimes we passed over an open rocky hill, and at others the road led through lanes of laurel; then we reached a fountain by a plane-tree, near which a body of Yoorouks were encamped under a tuft of cypresses. On the mountain side was a rock tomb. After an ascent of two hours and a half we reached the top of the mountain, and, passing through the pine woods which cover the summit, had a magnificent view of the Plain of Phenika, bounded on three sides by mountains, on the fourth by the sea. We saw the ruins of Rhodiopolis in the distance.

In two hours more we emerged on to the plain, and had a fatiguing ride to Armootlee. From Armootlee we crossed a river over a long stone bridge, and passed along the road by the mountain side. Here were several rock tombs. Near this spot is the source of a stream which issues in its full volume from the earth. We now pass more rock tombs, and at length reach the ruins of Limyra. Here is a fine theatre, resembling the one at Myra, only smaller. A little further on is the walled town. The city walls are of Byzantine architecture, but in part composed of ancient blocks. The plain near Phenika has a rich and beautiful aspect, and is well cultivated in parts, but the miasma renders this district deadly in summer. Even now at this season the heat was excessive.

At the Port of Phenika is a dilapidated modern fortress. The lower part of the square tower and part of the walls are of Hellenic architecture. Phenika is the port of the Turkish town of Almalee. Valonea is loaded here for Europe.

Tuesday, 11th.—Sailed for Rhodes, where we did not arrive till the 18th, owing to contrary winds.

The district of Asia Minor which we visited is at present in a very bad state. The greater part of the country is in the hands of the Zebecks, or mountain robbers, and in many cases the local authorities have left their posts. On the mountains near Almalew a band of 80 Zebecks are out. Near Adalia, on the Gulf of Pamphjdia, some of these robbers have killed a Moriote merchant. At Daliani, nearly opposite Rhodes, the country is in the hands of a band of 400 Zebecks, commanded by Ali Bey, son of the Aga of Chorgies, who has quarrelled with the other agas of the district, and is consequently in rebellion. In the skirmishes that have taken place, the authorities, in most instances, have been worsted. A boat sent from Rhodes to Phenika by a merchant, to pay for some corn, with £100 on board, was attacked by pirates near Myra, and the money taken. The same band, seventeen in number, the day before yesterday attacked and sunk a small boat from the island of Symi, and murdered the crew.

There is great scarcity of food in the country. At Daliani the people would not let a Sardinian merchant load a cargo of corn, but threatened to kill him if he persisted.

Though the weather was not favourable during great part of our journey, I have been enabled to take about thirty photographs—at Antiphellus, Cyaneaj, and Myra.

  1. Called Tchesemay in Spratt's Map of Lycia.