Set in in the Gelemiş Village of Antalya’s Kaş district, Patara is east of the Eşen Stream, which draws the Antalya-Muğla provincial border. Due to its sheltered port, the city became a primary port for Lycia - not just the Xanthos Valley in which it is located. Stone axes and ceramics discovered in the Tepecik Acropolis indicate that Patar was founded in the earliest Bronze Age, the 3rd millennium BC. The existence of the settlement in the Late Bronze Age was confirmed by an inscription discovered in the region: Yalburt describing a Lukka expedition made by Tuthaliya IV during 13th century BC in the region. Here, it is called the sacred ‘Patar Mountain’, where the Hittite King offered vows to the gods following the victorious expedition. In the Lycian language, the name connected with the Hittites is Pttara. The 500-yearperiod from1200-1700 BC, not well known in Lycia, was enlightened with terracotta fragments and statuettes found in the Tepecik excavations. In around 540 BC Lycia came under the domination of the Persians, with Vekhssere I and II the local city masters in the second half of the fifth century BC. Subsequent to Alexander, who arrived in Lycia in 334/333 BC, Patara came under the rule of the Ptolemies during the third century BC and the name of the city changed to Arsinoe. As the definition made of Livius, the ‘Leader of Lycia Noble’ shows, it was the capital of the Lycian Union established in 168/7 BC, and the Lycia State of Roma in 43 AD. The Lycian Union continued through the Roman Age, with the Pax Romana delivering peace and prosperity to Patara along with dazzling monumental constructions. During the period of the Eastern Roman Empire, started in the 4th century AD, Christianity bestowed upon Patara the title of one of the most important bishopric cities, as understood from the following events: Methodius, the first bishop of Lycia, was executed by beheading in 312 AD, and Eudemus from Patara was the only authority of signature in İznik Council on behalf of Lycia. Another notable from Patara, Eudemus, joined the Constantinople Council in 381. Patara is where St. Nicholas – Santa Claus - was born and raised. This city has always had a special place in the history of religions, starting from Apollon’s famous prophetic centre, which Homer identified as ‘Lycian noble’. The Turkish presence in Patara, which had become a medieval port city, shrunk sharply in the 12th century AD and was confirmed with the construction of a Turkish bath. The latest information from written sources is that in 1478, Sultan Cem met with a delegation of Rhodes in Patara.
Resting on the northern slope of the Kurşunlu Hill on the southern edge of the city, the theatre has a cavea consisting of 34 rows of seats and a capacity of 5000 people. The outward facing front of the three-story independent stage building, 41.50 metres long and 6.5 metres wide, also has a movable façade design as an important feature of this theatre. The temple, where the full axis is placed on the flat top of the seating rows, is an original architecture feature of the theatre. The first stage of the structure dates from the Hellenistic Period and it was used, after various repairs, until the 4th century AD.
The structure, located just north of the theatre and overlooking the agora towards the east, is one of the greatest of ancient Anatolia, measuring 42.80x32.60 metres. Construction took place in the late 2nd-early 1st century BC with the official establishment of the Lycian Union. During the Roman Age, the building underwent a few more stages of building and also took on the function of the odeion. It has a capacity of about 1,400 people with a 20-row cavea. It was probably used as a bastion in the 4th century AD, surrounded by the fortification walls around Patara. This Assembly was the parliamentary building of the Lykia League, where the philosopher Montesquieu’s book “The Spirit of the Laws” is regarded as ‘the greatest of the ancient world’ in the context of democracy. Its renovation was conducted by Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
The bathhouse is located on the eastern coast of the inner harbour on the plains on the southern slope of the Tepecik Acropolis. With three rectangular areas (cold, warm and hot) arranged side-by-side, Lycia reflects the tradition of bath-specific architecture. At the east of the 29x7.50-metre structure, there is a basilica thermarum. The bathhouse was most likely constructed in the late 1st century AD, losing its bathhouse function in the 5th – 6th centuries, and completing its historical mission in the 7th century.
Liman Street, connecting the inner harbour in the north of the city to the agora in the south, is the largest and most well- preserved antique street in Anatolia, measuring 12.60 metres in width. The passage to the agora, hence the parliament and the theatre, is provided by the double-gallery Agora West Portico, which is opened to the south of the street. There is a 1.50-metre-wide pavement on the eastern edge and a stoa on the west side, with shop rows behind. Granite in the east and white marble columns in the west were used. The street and the structures in the surroundings, which are believed to have existed from at least the first century BC, were used for various functions until the middle of Eastern Roman Period. There is a sewage system under the road pavement.
A majestic monument with three passages and four columns, the gate is 19 metres long and 10 metres high. With its welcoming location at the north of the city and Tepecik slope, it symbolises the entrance to the city. It is understood from the double-sided inscriptions in the south and north of the upper architrave that ‘the metropolis of the Lycia nation was built by the people of Patara’. In the inscriptions on the consoles, C. Trebonius Proculus Mettius Modestus, the General Governor of Lycia and the State of Pamphylia around 100 A.D., and his family are honoured. An inscription honouring statues of Emperor Traian and his wife Plotina standing on the arch are also from this period.
Today the lighthouse is located approximately 500 metres from the coast. The base rests on a square podium with a 20.00-metre-long edge. In the middle of the podium, there is an inner cylinder and an outer wall connected to stair blocks of which 4.40 metres are protected. A gold-plated inscription with large bronze letters was placed on the face of the outer round wall facing the port. The inscription indicates that Emperor Nero ordered the lighthouse built “for the safety of the sailors” in 64/65 A.D. The construction was supervised by Sextus Marcius Priscus, General Governor of Lycia State, who had been in Patara for eight consecutive years during the reigns of Nero, Galba and Vespasianus.