Where to go when you’re staying at Letoonia Golf Resort
The region of Turkey that overlooks the Aegean Sea is a veritable open-air museum of ancient ruins, rich in history and legend. The past twenty years have seen what were once sleepy fishing villages transformed into tourism-savvy locations, but generally the authorities are careful to protect the environment and historical sites and artifacts. This is a destination that is still undiscovered by many and a part of Turkey that is looking forward to an increasing numbers of visitors.
Belek, Antalya and Lycia Today
The area of Belek, located some 30 kilometres east of the city of Antalya, was first developed in 1984, from a natural pine forest into a centre for golf and holidaying. The region has 32 four- or five-stars hotels and first-class holiday villages and five world-class golf courses. Visitors can combine the experience of a vacation resort - packed with activities, hospitality and entertainment - with visits to nearby sites of cultural interest that reveal Turkey’s cultural past. The bustling towns and city of Antalya show Turkey as it is today: developing a modern, Western-European-inspired identity that embraces a sense of authenticity and spirituality as a secular country. Lycia is home to many ruins, and visiting the various digs and excavations makes for a fun day out and a chance to appreciate the rich agricultural nature of the local land. The region is famous for its prolific growth of fruits and vegetables such as figs, tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, corn, sesame and olives. White cheese is a Lycian delicacy and the production of honey a local tradition appreciated all over the country. Many of Turkey’s vineyards are located in Lycia so wine production is another regional activity. All produce can be tasted at Letoonia’s restaurants as the Resort sources from the region as much as possible. Antalya is the largest city on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast with a population of nearly two million (that expands by another 500,000 for most of the 300 day long summer season) and is the tourism capital of Turkey. Located at the foot of the Taurus mountain range, it is scattered with landscaped parks, many of which have views over the sea. Its delightful harbour can be reached via the old citadel of Kaleici, which has been restored and is now home to designer bars and boutique hotels, nestled amongst the protected, centuries-old buildings. Antalya was founded in 158 BC by King Attalus II of Pergamon and bequeathed to Rome in 133 BC. It remained under Byzantine control until the 1206 when the Sejluks arrived, and was a regular haunt of the Crusaders as they made their way to the Holy Land. Today it provides a delightful insight into the architecture and infrastructure of an ancient city, with winding streets and shops (albeit mostly tourist oriented). But Antalya is a real Turkish city with more industry than tourism, and so has all the shops and entertainment that local people require. Walking its streets, and people-watching at coveted cake cafés such as Salman, provides a truly authentic glimpse of life in post-Ataturk, modern-day Turkey. The variety of experiences available in this part of the country, not to mentioned the average 300 days of sunshine per year, mean that the region is not only attracting foreign visitors; it is also the main holiday destination for Turks too. The Aegean coastal region has long been the holiday home of the Turkish aristocracy and upper middle class, many of whom have holiday houses and yachts in this part of the country.
Letoonia Recommends Visiting
Phaselis is an ancient Lycian city dating back to 700 BC located between the Bey Mountains and the forests of Olympos National Park. Its impressive ruins include a 24 metre wide main street, with bath-house, shops and amphitheatre, which runs past three different beaches (once harbours), that are now a popular destination for picnicking Turkish families and tourists in the know. There are also numerous sarcophagi and wonderful carved pillars. The ruins are located both on land and in the water, which makes for adventurous snorkelling.
Not far from Phaselis is a mountain that in Turkish is called Yanartas (meaning flaming rock), which is also known as Mount Chimera. A two kilometre walk uphill leads to a low gradient rock face where flames are emanating from vents in the ground. The vents emit burning methane thought to be of metamorphic origin, which in ancient times were landmarks by which sailors could navigate. These vents are grouped in two patches on the hillside above the Temple of Hephaestus. According to Homer’s Iliad, Mount Chimera is the location of a battle between hero Bellerophon and the mythical chimera (depicted as a fire-breathing snake, goat and lion hybrid). Legend has it that the continuing flames are proof that the chimera still lives within the mountain.
Side and Manavgat
Only a 45 minute drive from Letoonia Golf Resort, Side is the perfect destination for a family day out that will provide a real taste of Turkey, set adjacent to ruins that are counted as among the most notable in Asia Minor. Side dates back to 700 BC and the ruins today cover a large promontory where a wall and a moat separate it from the mainland. There are the colossal ruins of a theatre complex, the largest of Pamphylia, built much like a Roman amphitheatre. The theatre is less preserved than the theatre at Aspendos (which is only a short distance from Letoonia Golf Resort and is where an annual season of opera and ballet performances are held - see Summer Schedule for more details), but it is almost as large, seating 15,000 - 20,000 people. Visiting these ruins, followed by a tour around the town and lunch overlooking the harbour is a great way to spend a day. It’s also worth travelling on to the nearby Manavgat Waterfall, which is so famous in Turkey that for several decades was depicted on the Turkish five lira banknote.