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Paradise on Earth: Koycegız and Dalyan

Tuesday, 3 Dec, 2013

Located on the shore of a lake that glimmers with different hues of light and bursts forth with magical colors and alluring scents, testifying to nature’s generosity, Koycegiz is a paradise on earth. In its immediate proximity, Dalyan captivates the senses with its watery mazes created by the wondrous hand of nature.

As a large area, starting from the edge of the lake in the town of Koycegiz in Mugla where it was established and extending up to the town of Dalyan, the towns of Koycegiz and Dalyan feature one of the world’s most beautiful eco-systems. With its Dalyan brook discharging the lake water into the sea and delta, this unrivaled ecosystem stretching towards Iztuzu Beach is a vibrant bouquet of wondrous features. In this land of waters, the thermal sources are a mixture of fresh and saline waters, and the forest surrounding it shelters a reed, lain and dune habitat bursting with a diversity of life. Numerous species of migrating and domestic birds, waters teeming with gray mullet, sea bass and gilt-head bream, blue crabs that travel from sea to lake to lay eggs, and loggerhead turtles that have been coming to Iztuzu Beach to reproduce for thousands of years are but a handful of the stunning features contributing to your enjoyment of the pleasures of integrating with a carefully preserved natural environment.

Established upon the shores of bowl-shaped lake and surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Western Taurus Mountains towering over the Mediterranean Sea, Koycegiz looks like a carefully carved out corner of paradise. The spectacular landscape created by the pine tree covered slopes of the mountains and the tall reed-beds trimming their skirts, along with their reflections on the mirror-like surface of the lake , create a dream world.

Acient City Of Kaunos

The oldest human settlement known, this dream land, which has been richly endowed with divine blessings, is the ancient city of Kaunos, whose establishment dates back to the 10th century B.C Located opposite the island of Rhodes, Kaunos was a key point of ancient sea-routes, connecting the eastern Mediterranean Sea to the western Mediterranean Sea, and it served as a major seaport in the ancient world.

The well-preserved ramparts from the Hellenistic Period, the harbor agora and fountain, the theatre and bath dating back to the Roman Period and the temple facades of the rock tombs carved into steep limestone slopes are  evidence of the importance of the city as well as the monumental image of wealth presented by Kaunos once upon a time. All of these historical attractions contribute to the city’s strong tourism potential.

Kaunos has shared the same fate as many Aegean port cities. The water that was its life blood filled its seaports with water-borne silts and eventually led to clogging. The customs regulation which was written on the walls of the lake that it is today is an interesting piece of historical evidence showing the customs tax cuts made by city management to revitalize the sea trade that had disappeared.

After the entire Karia region was taken over by Turkish tribes in the 15th century, Kauonos was completely abandoned. New settlements were, however, developed within the vicinity of the eco-systems during the time of the Mentesoglu Beylik. Koycegiz Lake, which became the county center during the eras of the Beyliks and Ottomans, served as the starting point of a trade route that connected to the sea by boats.

The town of Dalyan connecting to Ortaca used to be the stopover and customs point of this trade route. Also, the village of Candir found just outside the ramparts of ancient Kaunos used to be the oldest nomad village.

THE LAND OF COLORS AND SCENTS: KOYCEGIZ

Koycegiz, which resembles a tranquil island, lie along the edge of the sparkling green waters of the lake bearing its own name and is a center of tourism, featuring well-preserved architecture and history from the late 19th century and early 20th century. Once you take a look at the unparalleled view from under the dark shadow of the great eucalyptus  and palm trees standing along the softly wave-swept waterfront promenade, you are captivated with pleasant feelings of a world of colors and scents. The lake, whose colors change from turquoise into emerald due to planktons rising up to the surface, is encircled by a forest displaying vibrant shades of green. The sun rising in the clear blue sky issues forth its twinkling rays upon the ceramic-like white flowers of orange and lemon trees, giving a brilliant effusion of colors. The rich color transitions reflected on the mirror of the lake from the sunset colors of the sky transform from shades of red into shades of purple and deep blue as the night proceeds. Aromas created by a blend of smells from the pines, citrus, flowers and water carried along by the light breeze blowing all day long is intoxicating. Life in Koycegiz is calm and its natural environment pristine despite all of mankind’s roughness. Every day at around noon, the lake transforms into a mirror for all the beauty around it to behold itself. On summer mornings, its lies motionless until the light breezes descending from the high hills stir its waters. As a result of this phenomenon, Koycegiz L ake is known as “Shaky Lake” and “Twitching Lake” as well. This periodic breeze also helps to make it an ideal setting for sailing sports.

You come across Sultaniye Springs at the point where Olemez Mountain, which is crowned by the ramparts of the Imroz Castle of Kaunosians, suddenly descends down to shore of the lake. Used as a sanctuary by the Kaunosians  and dedicated to the god Leto, Sultaniye Spring is found in the ruins of a Roman period thermal bath and today serves as a therapy center to remedy  many disorders with its healing hot springs and mud baths.

The road starting from Koycegiz and extending towards Sultaniye Spring allows you to reach another tourism spot of Koycegiz. The marina found near an old mine wharf, situated at the corner of Ekincik Bay, where steep pine woods touch the shore, is a popular stopping points for blue voyage boats and yachts.

A MAGNIFICENT LABYRINTH: DALYAN

Dalyan is situated in the middle of the curves of Dalyan Brook, or Kalbis Brook as it was called in ancient times, which either carries fresh water of the lake to the Blue Lagoon or carries salty water to the lake. Today it operates as a tourism center within the district of Ortaca. It used to be a fishing village where Turkish and Greek citizens lived together until the implementation of the exchange clause of the Lozan Convention. Until the 1990s, it remained as a small, remote, half-forgotten, farming and fishing settlement. Today, however Dalyan is an emerging brand value of Turkish tourism, as it holds a unique position in being situated right in the center of one of the few internationally recognized ecosystems. Althought  lacking a seaside, Dalyan nevertheless has one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean Sea and a one-of-a-kind delta created by the reed islands that extend out like a labyrinth. The magnificent lakes along the delta, such as Sukungur, Algol, Salt Lake and Leech Lake, are sure to ignite your sense of Kaunos acropolis on top of an imposing cliff, the temple facade rock tombs of its noble families and also the city of Kaunos itself invite history and archaeology enthusiast. The environs of Koycegiz and Dalyan have a rich flora in terms of endemic and Anatolia endemic plants. Within these plant species, sweet gum, used for healing as well as for making delicious meals, is a particularly important feature of this flora.

This ancient endemic species that has been capable of surviving for 60 million years, loves semi-swamp areas, and the best-preserved sweet gum trees in Anatolia are found in the vicinity of Koycegiz and Dalyan. The resin that the sweet gum tree produces in order to protect itself against pests nested in the cuts opened in its bark was, until recently, a valuable ingredient used in antiseptic and deodorant product. However, sweet gum has unfortunately lost its economic value over time.

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