Guided tour of Kekova sunken city, Myra rock tombs and St Nicholas' Church
Your boat trip to the Kekova-Simena sunken city begins from Kale-Üçağız, a small village on the coast. Simena was once a city in the tiny Kekova region, which now encompasses a few fishing villages and a small island. The city was destroyed by a huge earthquake in the 2nd century AD but its ruins can still be seen through the clear waters.
The Kekova region is designated as a Specially Protected Area and so is managed by the Environment Agency. Boat trips here can vary in length and route, but all take in the city ruins and the beautiful surrounding landscape.
From Kale-Üçağız on to the city of Demre takes roughly another 40 minutes, on some rough but scenic roads. The Church of St Nicholas was built in 520 AD on the foundations of the older church in which St Nicholas served as bishop, and was later buried.
The site is now a museum, preserving its excellent Byzantine architecture and the many ancient frescoes within. It is also a site of special religious import, especially to Eastern Orthodox Christians who hold St Nicholas in great esteem as the patron of small children.
Nearby, just inland from Demre, are found the spectacular Myra rock tombs. A prominent city in the 1st century BC, Myra today is known for its impressive theatre and striking tombs cut into the rock face. Due to earthquakes, Muslim raiding and an awful plague, which swept through Anatolia during the 6th century AD, Myra was mostly abandoned by the 11th century.
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