A place where charming roof terraces looking over the hamlet and the coastline, facing Meis island and islets, and an attractive harbor with meandering and narrow cobbled streets scented with jasmine flowers, giving its slightly bohemian feel and the southern laid back atmosphere that is woven into the identity of this town.
The name of the town derives from the word for ‘an eyebrow’ in Turkish, from the form of the islet that it resembles.
Kas is a quiet and pleasant town settled on a hill running down to the Turquoise Coast of southern Turkey. Orange, lemon, banana, and almond trees are spread around the countryside with extensive pine forests backed by the scenery of the glorious Taurus Mountains. The nearby areas are also planted with cut flowers and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Although agriculture is still essential, tourism is the main source of income for the locals as the town has many hotels, restaurants, guest houses, and authentic shops.
Kas is also renowned for being one of the best diving spots in the Mediterranean with its hundreds of amphorae lying among various wreck sites. This place is truly a diver’s delight as six artificial wrecks and an airplane from World War II and a cargo ship from the 1950s are submerged to create artificial reefs and diving spots near the small islands of Kas.
Also many other activities available such as kayaking, gulet trips, and trekking not to mention the abundance of ancient historical sites attracting a wide range of visitors of different nationalities and ages.
Kekova, also known as 'Caravola' is the name of the large region that covers a vast area including Kaleköy (Simena), Teimiussa (Üçağız), Sıcak (Aperlai), Aquarium Bay, and Gökkaya Bay along with an idyllic and uninhabited island with the same name that lies off the coast.
Kekova is an idyllic region where nature still reigns unspoiled, the waterfront restaurants adorned with flowers, the small houses with terracotta roofs, and towns with narrow streets. However, the mysterious bay of Kekova offers more than towns with crystal clear turquoise waters, islands, and countless coves and bays. This region is also renowned for its variety of underwater cultural heritage.
The visitors are captivated by its stunning natural beauty that interspersed with culture as it is home to the ancient ruins of the Sunken City and the rich history of the Lycian civilization.
As a result, every summer the visitors on Gulet cruises swarm over the waters to see the remains of once flourishing towns and cities and imagine what life was like hundreds of years ago.
St. Nicholas of Myra (Santa Claus) – A Wonderful Tale of Father Christmas
Many may believe that Santa Claus lived in the North Pole with his reindeers or he is a fictional character in a big red suit that the modern Christmas tale is a made-up story by advertisers and the work of big business companies to boost their sales in low seasons.
However, St. Nicholas or more commonly known as Santa Claus was a real person and an Eastern Orthodox bishop born in nearby Patara and lived most of his life in the nearby town of Myra (Demre) in the 4th century. The saint was best known for secret giving by placing coins in the shoes of people who had left them out for him.
In 280AD, most of southern Turkey inhabited by Greeks and devout Christian communities. A young boy named Nicholas, raised by Christian parents in Patara, was sadly left orphaned after his parents died in an epidemic. At a young age, he inherited his parents’ fortune.
Having been raised as a Christian, Nicholas wanted to honor his parents’ faith by giving all he owned to those less fortunate. This, he did in secrecy. Nicholas climbed on the rooftops of houses and dropped coins down chimneys to help pay debts or buy food for needy families.
One night, Nicholas was caught and questioned about his acts by a local. Then, the man told the whole town about his good deeds. As his reputation grew, the church became aware of his actions and they declared him as the Bishop of Myra at a very young age.
Nicholas’s reputation for generosity and kindness gave rise to legends of miracles he performed for the poor and unhappy. He was reputed to have given marriage dowries of gold to three girls whom poverty would otherwise have forced into lives of prostitution and to have restored to life three children.
Nicholas the Protector of Children and Sailors
In the Middle Ages, devotion to Nicholas extended to all parts of Europe. He became the patron saint of Russia and Greece; of charitable fraternities and guilds; of children, sailors, unmarried girls, merchants, and pawnbrokers; and such cities as Fribourg, in Switzerland, and Moscow. Thousands of European churches were dedicated to him— one, built by the Roman emperor Justinian I at Constantinople (now Istanbul), as early as the 6th century.
Nicholas’s miracles were a favorite subject for medieval artists and liturgical plays, and his traditional feast day was the occasion for the ceremonies of the Boy Bishop, a widespread European custom in which a boy was elected bishop and reigned until Holy Innocents’ Day.
During his reign as a bishop in the local church early in the 3rd century, he destroyed many of the city's beautiful temples, including a great temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis Eleuthera (the ancient mother goddess of Anatolia) to eliminate paganism in the population.
St. Nicholas died on December 6th, 343AD. Archaeologists believe he was buried in the rock-hewn church following his death. His relics remained there until the 650s. They were then moved to the town of Myra after the island was abandoned as it was invaded by an Arab fleet.
After the Reformation, devotion to Nicholas disappeared in all the Protestant countries of Europe except Holland, where his legend persisted as 'Sinterklaas' (a Dutch variation of St. Nicholas). Dutch colonists took this tradition to New Amsterdam (now New York City) in the American colonies in the 17th century.
Sinterklaas was adopted by the country’s English-speaking majority under the name Santa Claus, and his legend of a kindly old man was united with old Nordic folktales of a magician who punished naughty children and rewarded good children with presents.
The resulting image of Santa Claus in the United States crystallized in the 19th century, and he has ever since remained the patron of the gift-giving festival of Christmas. It is also known that Father Christmas had originally green suit but changed to red because of Coca-Cola.
1. Visit St. Nicholas Church
On the Kekova itinerary, visitors often take a land tour to visit the St. Nicholas Church located in the heart of Demre(Myra). Once an ancient church site, the museum was accepted to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1982. Nowadays, the museum receives over half a million pilgrims and visitors each year.
The Byzantine ruins of four Greek churches built between the 4th and 6th centuries AD remain on the island, Other remains from the same period include around forty other ecclesiastical buildings and over fifty Christian tombs. One of the churches was cut directly from the rock at the island's highest point and located at the western end of the ceremonial walkway.
The Byzantine church was originally used as a house of worship for Orthodox Christians between the 5th and 12th centuries and is most distinguished for being the church where Saint Nicholas of Myra was a canonized bishop.
The grey-stone building sits in a depression that is several meters deep and is surrounded by well-tended gardens and several modern-day statues portraying the many faces of St. Nicholas – including his roles as priest and bishop, St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, and Santa Claus. Faded frescoes depicting various religious scenes and the story of St. Nicholas' life decorate the interior walls. Marble columns and vaulted ceilings give the space an open and airy feeling, and complex mosaic tiles (dating to the 11th century) line the floor. There are numerous tombs in the church, including one believed to have been the Saint's tomb.
The present-day building is not the original church on the site. The building we see today was built on the foundation of an older church after St. Nicholas died (December 6, 343) to protect his tomb and honor his memory.
Unfortunately, in 1087, tomb raiders from Bari desecrated the tomb believed to contain the remains of St. Nicholas and took the bones to Italy, leaving an empty crypt in the church.
As with many ancient buildings in the Mediterranean, weather, earthquakes, floods, and war took their toll. The basilica was destroyed and restored several times in the 8th and 9th centuries, including major rebuilds by Constantine IX in 1043 and Tsar Nicholas I in 1862. Repeated flooding with silty water from the Demre River eventually buried the church and surrounding area several meters underground. The church was most recently re-discovered in 1956 during an excavation near the main square in Demre and has drawn significant attention from archaeologists, historians, religious experts, and the curious public ever since.