Guide to the Ancient City of Patara in Antalya: History and Tips

Last Updated by Ezgi on August 2, 2021

Patara is an ancient city located on the west coast of Lycia, today the town of Kalkan in Antalya. It was once a leading city in the Lycian League along with Xanthos and Letoon.

In this article, you will find all the useful information to know before visiting Patara, including how to get there, what to do there, how to access the city, and tours available on site.

Theater at Patara Ancient Site in Antalya in Turkey

What Can I Do in the Ancient City of Patara?

Patara, apart from being an interesting ancient city is also famous for the marvelous Patara Beach and the spawning grounds of caretta caretta turtles. Patara beach is a place where many people flock to in the summer season. It's protected by the Natural Life Conservation Foundation because it's one of the rare places where these turtles lay their eggs.

Some of the important structures you will see in the ancient city of Patara are the Roman Triumphal Arch, temples, a necropolis area, a lighthouse, bouleuterion (parliament building), the city gate, a theater building, churches, baths (Nero Bath, Vespasian Bath), the granarium (granary), and warehouses.

In fact, the ruins of the city of Patara start before even arriving in Gelemiş village. Lycian type sarcophagi and Roman Period sarcophagi in the city's necropolis can be seen before you arrive at the site.

There is a magnificent Triumphal Arch that can be seen from the roadside, 2 km after Gelemiş village, which was built in the late 1st century AD. The theater on the slope of the hill was built during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius. There is also a Temple of Athena on the hill.

Patara's Lighthouse is believed to be the oldest lighthouse in the world and was built in 60 AD.

Patara was the capital city of the Lycian League. It is one of the six cities in the Lycian League that had three voting rights. The Council of the Lycian League is thought to be the world's first democratic council.

Guide to Patara Beach in Kas in Antalya in Turkey

Birthplace of St. Nicholas

It is believed that Saint Nicholas was born in Patara around 280 AD. During Nicholas’ lifetime, the harbor filled with silt and the city gradually lost importance. St. Nicholas lived most of his life in the nearby town of Myra (Demre).

The Apostle Paul anchored in the port of Patara on his third tour coming from Rhodes, along with the Evangelist Luke and other fellow travelers.

Birthplace of Apollo and Artemis

Patara was the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, according to Greek mythology. Apollo and Artemis are the twin children of Zeus and his forbidden lover Leto. According to legend, Leto managed to escape from Hera and came to Patara, but no one helped her relieve her pains while giving birth, as they were afraid of the wrath of Hera. She wraps palm trees in her arms and is able to relieve her pain. First she gives birth to her daughter Artemis and then Apollo after being in pain for nine days.

It is believed that there was a Temple of Apollo, as the prophecy center in Patara.  A large bust of Apollo was discovered on the hill next to the city, indicating the existence of a Temple of Apollo. Although, it has not yet been precisely located.

Homer mentions Apollo as Pholbos meaning illuminated and the famous archer of Lycia. Apollo and his sister Artemis are also known for helping the Anatolian city of Troy.

Patara Arch in Antalya in Turkey

Entrance, Tickets, and Tours

  • Entrance: Patara can be visited between 08:30 and 19:30 in the summer season (April 1- October 31), and between 08:30 and 17:30 (October 31-April 1) in the winter season.
  • Tickets: The entrance fee to Patara is 30 TL per person in 2021. Museum Card holders can visit the site for free.
  • Tours: There are many local tour operators organizing daily trips to Patara from Antalya and surrounding areas.
  • Tip: To book amusement parks, museums, and tour tickets in advance of your trip to the Antalya region, don't hesitate to check out the deals in our official shop.
Patara Ancient Site in Antalya in Turkey

How to Get to Patara

The Patara ruins are located about 1.5 km south of Gelemiş village in Kalkan. It is possible to get Patara by private car, bus, minibus, or taxi. 

  • By minibus: You can take Patara minibuses departing from Kas, Kalkan, and Fethiye. Read about using the dolmuş in Turkey.
  • By bus: You can take the Fethiye - Kaş bus and get off in Ovaköy. From there, you can reach the region by walking approximately 3.5 kilometers or taking a taxi.
  • By Car: On the way from Fethiye to Kalkan, you turn to onto Gelemiş road before passing Kalkan, from here a 5 km long road will take you to the ancient city of Patara. Read our article about how to rent a car in Antalya.
Patara Ancient Site Ruins in Antalya in Turkey

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What can I see in the ancient city of Patara?

Some of the important structures you can see in the ancient city of Patara are the Roman Triumphal Arch, temples, a necropolis area, a lighthouse, bouleuterion (parliament building), the city gate, a theater building, churches, baths (Nero Bath, Vespasian Bath), the granarium (granary), and warehouses.

Where is the ancient city of Patara?

Patara is located in Gelemiş village, between Kaş and Fethiye, Turkey.

How much is the entrance to Patara?

 The entrance fee for Patara is 30 TL per person in 2021. Museum Card holders can visit the site for free.

How can I get to the ancient city of Patara?

The Patara ruins are located about 1.5 km south of Gelemiş village in Kalkan. It is possible to get Patara by private car, bus, minibus, or taxi. 

By minibus: You can take Patara minibuses departing from Kas, Kalkan, and Fethiye. 

By bus: You can take the  Fethiye - Kaş bus and get off in Ovaköy. From there, you can reach the region by walking approximately 3.5 kilometers or taking a taxi.

By Car: On the way from Fethiye to Kalkan, you turn to onto Gelemiş road before passing Kalkan, from here a 5 km long road will take you to the ancient city of Patara.

Patara beach in Antalya in Turkey

Hotels Near Patara

There are no large Hotel complexes and resorts in the area as the Patara region is a protected area. You will find family run hotels and more modest accommodations for every budget. Here are four hotels near Patara.

  • Patara Caretta Hotel: This small family-run hotel is surrounded by picturesque nature. Thanks to the free shuttle service, you can easily explore the ruins of Patara, as well as Patara Beach, which are about 5 km from the hotel. Address: Gelemiş Mahallesi, Gedik Sokak No: 27, Patara
  • Apollon Hotel: Apollon Hotel is located 3 km from the coast of Patara Beach. This quiet 3-star hotel with a pool and an on-site restaurant is a good choice for families with children. Address: Gelemiş, Patara Merkez
  • Golden Lighthouse Hotel: If you are looking for a cozy place to relax, the Golden Lighthouse Hotel is right for you. This nice small hotel with a pleasant atmosphere is close to the center of Patara (200m), Patara ancient city (2 km), and Patara Beach (3 km). Address: Patara Merkez sokak no 39 Kaş
  • Flower Pension: This is a budget-friendly pension close to Patara Beach. You will find here Turkish cuisine with fresh vegetables from their own garden, as well as a casual ambience. Also, if you love flowers, herbs, and trees, this might be a perfect fit. Address: Gelemiş Köyü Merkez Mah. 11 - 11/B
Aerial View of Patara Ancient Site in Antalya in Turkey

The History of Patara

Patara became famous in antiquity as an oracle center of Apollo. It was conquered by Alexander the Great in 333 BC. After his death, it was occupied by Antigone I until it was passed onto the domain of the Ptolemies of Egypt, who enlarged it and gave it the name Arsinoé, which was the name of the wife of Ptolemy II Philadelphus. Then, it was conquered by Rome.

It was Christianized at the beginning of Christianity, and several bishops of early Christianity were born in Patara. During the Byzantine Empire, it remained an important center for trade and pilgrimage.

At the end of the 18th century, travelers rediscovered Lycia, including the ruins of Patara. Marie Gabriel Florent Auguste de Choiseul Gouffier was the first Western scholar to have visited the site. Then Charles Texier came to Patara in 1836 and described the theater, the Stadttor gate of Mettius Modestus, the "Corinthian temple", and the tombs.

Systematic excavations began in 1988 under the direction of Fahri Işık. Since 2009 Havva İşkan from Akdeniz University in Antalya has been responsible for the excavations. In 2013, the 25th anniversary of the excavations was celebrated.

Get more information about other important historical monuments in Antalya on our dedicated page.

Contact

  • Address: Kalkan, 07960 Kaş/Antalya
  • Opening Hours:  08:30 to 19:30 in the summer and between 08:30 to 17:30 in the winter
  • Public Transport: bus and minibus
  • Website: https://muze.gov.tr/muze-patara

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