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ancient Lycian tombs at Myra in TurkeyOn our Cruising the Lycian Shore trip in Turkey, we visit the ancient city of Myra (modern Demre), once a major centre of population in these parts. The old city appears to have been very large in Roman and Early Byzantine times, but most of it is hidden under immense layers of river sediment - material for future excavations.

On the northern outskirts of the city, just below the steep slopes of the ancient city's acropolis or citadel is the "Harbour Necropolis", a vast jumble of rock-cut tombs carved into the slopes of the acropolis. It's probably one of the most photographed sights in the region, a beehive of Lycian facade tombs, probably mostly of the fifth and fourth centuries BC. All of them have stone-carved facades cut from the living rock and imitating to considerable detail wooden architecture that may represent the dwellings of Lycian nobles of the age. These tombs are quintessentially Lycian, an original invention of the region, although some incorporate elements borrowed from elsewhere, especially relief carving showing warriors, banquets and athletes (et cetera), clearly inspired by Greek funerary art.

Ancient theatre at Myra in TurkeyNext to the necropolis is the famous theatre of Myra, a Roman structure of huge dimensions - it had room for an audience of at least 12,000 spectators, supported by a complex system of vaults. The massive edifice with its still substantially preserved ornate stage structure is a lone witness to just how grand and wealthy Roman Myra must have been - but for the moment it stands alone as such.

A short drive away is Andriake, the ancient harbour town of Myra. Here, we walk beside a marshy lagoon to have a look at the huge horreum or granary or storehouse erected during the reign of Hadrian. It is one of the best-preserved ruins of its kind in the entire Roman Empire. In recent years it has been re-roofed and transformed into a modern museum dedicated to 'Lycian civilisation' - with a wide variety of finds from many ancient sites all over Lycia, including Myra and Andriake.

To explore Myra and Andriake with expert guides, do please join our wonderful 2-week Cruising the Lycian Shore.

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