Rhodiapolis: The Hidden Treasure of Lycia

Image Credit: Nick Gunthram (Wikimedia)

Rhodiapolis, hidden in the depths of ancient Lycia, stands like a forgotten pearl, shrouded in history, silent and serene. It feels as if it is broken against us. This ancient city, just a few steps away from the sparkling shores of the Mediterranean, takes visitors on a journey to ancient times with its historical remnants. Meanwhile, the winds lingering atop and the rustling of trees add a mystical ambiance to this journey.

Where is Rhodiapolis?

Rhodiapolis is located on a hill at an altitude of approximately 300 meters, in the northwest of Kumluca district in the south of Antalya province, one of the popular tourism destinations of Turkey. It is situated 100 kilometers from the center of Antalya province, 98 kilometers from Kaş district, 56 kilometers from Kemer district, and 6 kilometers from Kumluca district.

Today, Rhodiapolis is surrounded by typical Mediterranean forests, offering a vantage point where you can see the entire town center, the greenhouses surrounding it, and the coastal strip in a single frame.

The existence of the ancient city was noticed during a forest fire in 2005. Shortly after the discovery, excavation works began in collaboration with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Akdeniz University.

Ancient City of Rhodiapolis
Image Credit: ulukayin.org ©CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

History of Rhodiapolis

The origin of Rhodiapolis, one of the Lycian ancient cities on the Teke Peninsula and meaning “city of Rhodes”, dates back to the Rhodian colonists, as its name suggests. It is among the rare Rhodes colonies in the region, along with Gagai, Korydalla, Olympos, and Phaselis.

At first, Rhodiapolis was a relatively modest settlement within the Lycian Union, but it gained prominence during the Roman period due to its relationship with the wealthy benefactor (euergetes) Opramoas. Opramoas, renowned for his philanthropic efforts, made significant donations to many cities in Lycia, especially to assist in earthquake relief efforts and to finance the construction of temples in Rhodiapolis.

Ancient City of Rhodiapolis
Image Credit: ulukayin.org ©CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

Except for a single rock tomb, there are no significant archaeological traces in Rhodiapolis dating back more than 2700 years. Consequently, it can be said that the oldest remains in the city are the Classical Antiquity rock tombs. With a few exceptions, the ancient city gives the impression of a typical Roman city, with Byzantine structures being predominant.

The Teke Peninsula, including Rhodiapolis, came under the rule of the Seljuks from the 12th century onwards. After the collapse of the Anatolian Seljuk State, the region remained under the Tekeoğulları Principality for a while before being incorporated into the Ottoman borders.

Architectural Features

Situated in the rugged terrain of Lycia, the ancient city of Rhodiapolis stands out with its innovative urban planning and carefully considered architectural details according to its era. Despite its challenging landscape, the city has been meticulously organized to be densely packed with interconnected buildings, leaving no room for empty spaces except for streets and thoroughfares.

Ancient City of Rhodiapolis
Image Credit: ulukayin.org ©CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED

The unique layout of the city relies on a terrace system that provides flat surfaces for construction. These terraces, largely constructed with cisterns, enable urban development in the rugged terrain of the region. This highly functional system not only provides an ideal space for collecting and storing water but also offers leveled areas for construction projects, contributing to the city’s development.

Among the most significant structures of the city are the theater, church, tombs, and cisterns. However, while some of these have been restored, informative signs about these structures have not yet been prepared for visitors. This hinders visitors from fully understanding the importance of these buildings.

How to Get to Rhodiapolis?

For those coming from outside Turkey, the closest airport to Rhodiapolis is Antalya Airport. Especially during the summer months, there are direct flights to Antalya Airport from many countries. For those coming from within Turkey, they can also choose Antalya Airport or take a bus to Antalya Intercity Bus Terminal.

After arriving in Antalya, you can rent a car to go to Kumluca, take a taxi (which can be quite expensive), or take minibuses from the Interdistrict Bus Terminal (İlçeler Terminali), located right next to the Antalya Intercity Bus Terminal. Minibuses departing approximately every half hour during the summer months will take you to Kumluca in about 100-120 minutes. Once you arrive in Kumluca, you can reach Rhodiapolis in about 10 minutes by taxi.

Visitors arriving in Antalya by plane can take a taxi to reach the Interdistrict Bus Terminal or opt for the tram heading towards Fatih from the stop right next to the airport. You can make the necessary payment for the tram journey with a credit card. After the tram departs, you can get off at the Otogar stop within approximately 20-30 minutes and proceed to the Interdistrict Bus Terminal.

If you arrived at Rhodiapolis by taxi, don’t forget to ask the taxi driver for their phone number or a business card for the return journey. This is because there are no taxi stands near the ancient city. If you can’t find a taxi, walking to the town center will take approximately 1 hour.

  • Wikipedia contributors. “Rhodiapolis.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Oct. 2023. Web. 15 Apr. 2024.
  • Türkiye Kültür Portalı. “Rhodiapolis Antik Kenti – Antalya”, 10 Feb. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2024.
  • Nevzat ÇELİK, İsa KIZGUT, and Süleyman BULUT. “Rhodiapolis, as a unique example of Lycian urbanism.” Adalya 13 (2010): 29-63.