Kekova Island and sunken city, one of the most visited places in the Mediterranean, is home to many underwater beauties. With special permisson from the Culture Ministry, Anatolia News Agency reporter Cem Özdel took photos of the island and its hidden beauties
Located close to the Mediterranean city of Antalya's Demre district, the Kekova Harbor and sunken city that was once a Lycian trade center, now submerged under water as a result of earthquakes, draws the attention of local and foreign tourists.
Kekova is one of the places most visited by tourists because it boasts historical attractions and has the cleanest waters in the Mediterranean. It is also home to many under and above water beauties. With special permission from the Culture Ministry, Anatolia Agency photojournalist Cem Özdel, accompanied by museum official İlknur Erdoğan and divers Erkan Çağlar and Cem Gazivekili, photographed Kekova, which can be easily reached by people on Blue Cruises.
In this region where swimming is forbidden but diving is allowed with special permission, the photos revealed that most of the historical buildings underwater have been ruined and some have been covered by sea sand because of currents. In addition, 30 meters from Kekova Island's coast and 20 meters under the surface, hundreds of amphoras have been broken by treasure hunters.
Photos showed that staircases from Kekova Island to the sea still exist. The breakwaters belonging to two harbors on the north of the island have not collapsed yet, but it was discovered that they are surrounded by waste thrown from vessels. ''Demre and its vicinity is a complete tourism center due to its rich history and geographical position,'' said Demre district governor, Murat Sefa Demiryürek.
Noting that the St. Nicholas Church, the ancient city Myra and its theater, rock cemeteries and the ancient cities of Andreake and Simena draw tourists to Kekova, Demiryürek said, ''As well as the natural beauties, the richness of ancient and historical artifacts make the region attractive in the field of archaeological tourism. There are many small settlements in the district, which were under the influence of Lycian and Roman civilizations for long years. Üçağız (Theimiussa) and Kaleköy (Simena) are residential areas today.
Also, the region has a rich heritage including tombs with inscriptions in the Lycian language, sarcophaguses on the coast of Lycia, ruins of breakwaters and buildings, a theater, caved in rock in the Medieval Castle, rock cemeteries, water cisterns, necropolis etc. Moreover, there are lots of sunken cities in the area. It is suggested that an area named 'Tersane' in Kekova Island was an ancient naval yard.''
Demiryürek said hundreds of thousands of tourists visited the island ever year, adding that they put great effort into promoting the region to the world.
Kekova should be launched as a national park
Diving trainer and owner of Demre Diving School, Erkan Çağlar, who guides specially permitted diving events in Demre, said the region would be more active in tourism if Kekova was designated as a national park.
"Many countries abroad have places where diving is forbidden. Those who want to dive or swim in these regions can pay a fee of 50-100 euros. There are many areas in Kekova and its vicinity available for swimming or diving. This region can be designated as a national park. Then more tourism revenue can be obtained.''