Mediterranean Spirit: Places to Visit in Kalkan


Kalkan , with its old Greek houses leaning against a green hillside, a small marina and a beautiful beach right next to it , is one of the most attractive holiday resorts of recent times. While it was an idyllic little coast until the 1920s, it now brings the Mediterranean spirit to life with its breathtaking modern villas, exquisite boutique hotels and bougainvillea streets emulating Alaçatı.

Kalkan, a neighborhood of Antalya ‘s Kaş district, is one of the shining stars of our country with its lush nature, deep blue sea, historical sites dating back to antiquity, endangered Caretta carettas, and untouched coves. It is a good starting point to explore the ruins of the famous Lycian cities of Xanthos, Letoon and Patara.

Kalkan , which was described by Herodotus as the closest place to the stars in the world , is known as an ancient Greek settlement known as Kalamaki until the 1920s. According to the legend, Kalkan was founded two hundred years ago by a Greek woman who came to this bay from the island of Meis with a ship full of goods for sale.

It is unknown whether the merchant woman succeeded in selling the goods in her hands; but he must have explained the characteristics of this natural harbor lying in the shadow of the steep Taurus slopes, that other Meissians followed him and Kalkan turned into a vibrant commercial center in 25 years.

There are a few stories circulating about where the name ‘Shield’ came from. In the beginning of the 19th century, bandits raided the port town, which became increasingly wealthy. Someone who doesn’t want to be tied down makes a shield for himself, and anyone who thinks they’ll benefit from it follows him. The name of the town that is successful in defense begins to be referred to as the shield.

It is said that Kalkan, which has maintained its importance as a reliable port throughout history, was the most important port of the Teke Peninsula in the late 1800s, even eclipsing Fethiye and Antalya. In this period, the grains, olive oil, apple, pine and cedar wood, wine and flour brought to the town, which is known as ‘Scaffolding’, are loaded on trade ships here and sent to distant ports.

The village elders tell that in the 1920s, Kalkan had a lively social life with its jewelers, tailors, countless restaurants, and the tradition of going to the Bezirgân plateau in the hot summer months.

Kalkan had its first local election in 1928, within the framework of the modernization initiative of the young Turkish Republic, which consolidated its victory with the Treaty of Lausanne after the First World War. The primary school, which is one of the few boarding primary schools in Turkey and is still in use today, was put into service in 1937.

British travel writer Freya Stark , who traveled to distant geographies where no European or even a woman would dare to go before, wrote in her book ‘Lycian Shores’ published in 1956, “ There are not many places where magic reigns uninterruptedly, and as far as I know, the Lycian shores are the most magical. was the one. Talking about these shores by saying ” makes the name of Kalkan known to the whole world.

Stark, the author of more than 24 travel books, mentioned the advantages of Kalkan being only a few kilometers away from Xsantos, the capital and heart of Lycia, the religious center Letoon and the port of Patara, which connected the mysterious Lycian civilization that ruled 35 centuries ago to the sea. This attracts the attention of wealthy yachtsmen to this small village.

The coastal road, which was finally completed in 1960, started to fill Kalkan, which lost its importance due to the fact that the coastal road saved the transportation from caravans and sea vehicles, put it at a faster pace and weakened maritime trade, and this time foreigners, mostly attracted by the British, fled the cities and were struck by the beauty of this beautiful geography.

American politician Stephen Solarz and wife Nina are responsible for transforming from an idyllic coastal town into today’s exclusive and priceless Shield . Solarz, who built Kalkan’s white house like a bunker on the hill with magnificent harbor views, was a lawmaker in Brooklyn, USA for 18 years.

The politician, who later served on the Congressional Foreign Affairs Committee, understood the importance of Turkey at the beginning of his career. In 1975, he opposed the embargo imposed by the USA after Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus, calling it a “terrible mistake”. He carried out lobbying activities to support Ankara.

The experienced politician, who has traveled to more than 130 countries in the world due to his job, chose Kalkan for himself to live. Journalist Andrew Finkel , who visited the politician, spent twenty years in Turkey, and is a writer for The Economist and Time magazine, speaks highly of Kalkan.

The development of tourism gained great momentum after 1984 and today Kalkan turns into a fully-fledged touristic center with its clean and very comfortable accommodation facilities, shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. Despite all these developments, Kalkan has never lost its sincere, simple and hospitable spirit that captivates people.

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