Shoreside Roman city

At Patara, a port city buried beneath river silts and beach dunes, great works have been underway. These have concentrated on the theatre; the so-called parliament building, home to gatherings of the Lycian League which drafters of the American constitution hailed as a proto-Congress; and the earliest of all extant lighthouses.  

Patara ancient city Turkey

Make a point – the moment its restorers allow – of taking in this lighthouse.  Follow the track across the marshy harbour, lined by impressive Roman granaries, to a stone tower, with its internal spiral stairway.  The lighthouse stands atop a massive pedestal of stone dressed in its upper sections but left rough from the point, the observer realises with a jolt, where the mason would have been working beneath the waves. This marvellous detail, marker post of the shoved-back sea, so effectively restores the former topography of this great port – the birthplace, after all, of the sailors’ saint Nicholas, and a city visited by St Paul – as to bring it back to life.

The sea, which lies just beyond the dunes, is an endless stretch of the finest and whitest sand.

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