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Introducing Patara

The slightly scruffy, rambling village of Patara (Gelemiş) attracts an interesting mix of Turkish and foreign eccentrics. Its ruins come with a bonus in the form of a wonderful white-sand beach some 50m wide and 20km long. While there are plenty of pensions and a few midrange hotels, traditional village life still goes on here. Transport can be irregular, so hopefully this means it will stay the way it is.

Patara was the birthplace of St Nicholas, the 4th-century Byzantine bishop who later passed into legend as Santa Claus. Before that, Patara was famous for its temple and oracle of Apollo, of which little remains. It was once the major port for eastern Lycia and the Eşen valley, but the harbour silted up in medieval times and became a reedy wetland. St Paul and St Luke once changed boats here.

About 95 of the 110 buildings in the village have been served with a court demolition order, which has put a stop to further development. There are ambitious plans to reconstruct the ruins into a spectacle to rival Ephesus, but don’t hold your breath.

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