Arykanda is an ancient city built on mountain terraces at an altitude of 1000 m. near the village of Aykiriçay. This beautiful and remote site is extensive, rising up several terraces built into the rock face.
As the “anda” ending of its name suggests, Arykanda is one of the oldest Lycian cities. Although the city dates back to the 7th century BCE, most ruins are from the 5th century BCE through the 3th century AD. Like other Lycian cities, Arykanda was under Persian rule in the 5th century BCE. Alexander the Great assumed control in 333 BCE and after his death; first the Ptolemies, then the Seleucids and finally Rhodes ruled the city. Later the city was in the Lycian League. Emperor Claudius imposed direct Roman rule in 43 AD. Christianity arrived as early as the 3rd century. Arykanda survived through late Roman times, until the inhabitants moved to Arif, a separate site south of the modern road, in the 6th century.
Near the car park are the remnants of a Sebasteion or imperial cult temple built during the reign of Emperor Trajan. Remnants from this temple were reused to construct a late Roman basilica church and bishop’s palace in the 5th century AD which still contains traces of wall paintings and floor mosaics covered with a modern roof.
On the lowest terrace stands a largely intact bath complex supported with arches, converted into a bath-gymnasium after an earthquake in 141, and later refurbished. Higher up between the bouleuterion and the agora are remains of a small bath and a fountain. Arykanda obtained water from a nearby spring and channeled it to two large cisterns.
A necropolis runs along the street above the bath complex to the east with impressive barrel-vaulted monumental tombs, temple tombs and sarcophagi. One temple tomb on a podium contains an inscription and Corinthian façade decorated with a lion relief, another displays winged figures on either side of a bust over the lintel.
To the north higher up is a wide flat 4th century agora, once enclosed on three sides with a portico. In the center of the agora are the ruins of a temple dedicated to Tyche. On a higher terrace behind the agora are foundations of a temple dedicated to Helios. Archaeologists discovered two altars here, one identifying Helios by inscription and the other by a depiction of Helios with a halo.
Further up is a 2nd century odeon, once decorated with colored marble. The odeon portico was paved with floor mosaics and led to a triple portal with a statue of Emperor Hadrian, now at the Antalya Museum, flanked by masks of deities. Stairs lead up to the 1st century BCE theatre on the next terrace with 20 rows of seats built into the hillside.
To the west of the theatre a long stoa passes 12 shops and leads to the bouleuterion with seats cut out of the slope of the mountain. On the next terrace up above the theatre is the half-size 1st century BCE Hellenistic stadium with seats only on the north side cut into the mountainside facing south.
The entrance fee to the site of Arykanda is 15 TL. Restaurants are in nearby Çatallar or Arif.
From Kumluca a good road leads to Elmali. The site of Arykanda is well-signposted near the village of Aykiriçai. One can park the car on the foot of the site.