With its natural beauty, ancient cities, and amazing coastline, Kas is a unique place. But what about its villages? If you leave Kas without visiting its villages, you’ve missed out. One of them is different from all the villages you’ve seen before. Kalekoy, also known as Simena, found in Kas, is interesting and very beautiful. Built on the seaside, Kalekoy is home to the historic ruins of Simena and should definitely be added to your trip to Kas.
Kalekoy faces one of Kas’s most iconic places: Kekova Island. Blue as far as the eye see. Its terraces of narrow streets and quaint houses stretch to the top of the hill. Wandering these streets, you’ll see an endless view of the Mediterranean with every step.
Since it’s far from any main road, this village has managed to preserve its traditional atmosphere. Due to the bad condition of the road, locals traveled to and from solely with boats for years. You can visit Kalekoy with one of our boats that depart from Kas daily.
Kalekoy Travel Guide
Kalekoy is located to the west of Antalya, between the counties of Kas and Demre. It’s 185 kilometers from Antalya. The area where Kalekoy is located is known as Kekova. The island known as Dolichiste during the Lycian Period is now called Kekova. Today the term is used to denote the region of Kalekoy, Ucagiz, Kekova Island, and the bay and coast that surround them.
Although it is usually associated with Kas, Kalekoy is actually a part of Demre. People think it is a part of Kas because it’s one of their favorite stops on the boat trips that depart from Kas. You can reach Kalekoy on boat trips departing from Kas and from Demre.
Kalekoy is home to more beauty than expected from just a single village. Sunken cities, ancient ruins in the sea, and the many beautiful bays that surround the village… There are no cars in the village, just a relaxing silence; you’ll find incredible views around every corner and the air is fresh and clean.
This village was declared a ‘Special Protected Area’ in 1990 and a ‘Urban Archeologic Site’ in 2016. Construction is banned in Kalekoy. Even hammering in a single nail is illegal. Home prices are extremely high; it’s one of the country’s most expensive villages.
Those that come to Kalekoy once want to return and see this beautiful village again. Many tourists, foreign and domestic, visit the village each year. There are even some regular visitors that end up moving here.
Many important names in the business and art world have homes here. Rahmi Koc is one of these. Businessman Rahmi Koc bought a house, which used to be used as a madrasa and is located at the highest point of the village, in 1986. He owns a large area of land. Others that have moved to Kalekoy include Ali Dinckok, Okan Tapan, Erdogan Demiroren, Bilgin Demiroren and the old governor of Kadikoy: Osman Hizlan.
Stretching out into the Mediterranean like a peninsula, this village was inhabited by both Muslim Turks and Christian Anatolians until 200 years ago. After the population exchange in the 1920s, people came from Castellorizo, Rhodes, and Lesbos. There were also people from nearby villages in Kas and Demre that moved to Kalekoy.
Kalekoy consists of 30 houses and a population of 120 in summer. The locals make their living off fishing and agriculture in the winter and tourism in the summer. Pomegranate, oranges, lemons, and olives are all grown here.
When you reach the village via daily boat trips or private boats, you anchor further out and take smaller boats to get to the wooden dock. You’ll see a Lycian sarcophagus just to your right. There are a couple restaurants along the dock. Their menus mainly consist of seafood and they make great Mediterranean salads.
You’ll be met by the simply designed stone houses that line the narrow streets running up the hillside. The smell of oranges and lemons wafts from their small gardens. None of these single or two-storied buildings blocks the view of another. There are small guesthouses and boutique hotels in the village; we recommend staying a couple days.
The Ancient City of Simena
The biggest thing that sets Kalekoy apart is that it’s home to the ruins of ancient Simena. Simena’s history stretches back to the 4th century BCE. The name of the ancient city was first recorded in the 1st century CE in the works of Pliny the Elder.
A member of the Lycian League, Simena’s most famous building is its well-preserved Middle Age fortress. The road running up from the coast will lead you to this fortress. This restored fortress offers up enchanting views of Kekova. Gazing out at the bright blue sea stretching into the distance from ancient ruins is an experience only available in Kalekoy.
The boats traveling between Kas and Demre pass before your eyes. If you climb the fortress before the sun sets you’ll have the chance to watch a wonderful sunset. There is a small theatre that seats 300 in its seven rows within the castle.
If you walk to the back of the castle, you’ll also see the necropolis and its many sarcophagi. Looking down from the castle, you can also easily see a Lycian sarcophagus, a jetty, and the remains of some buildings in the water near the coast on the left side of the bay. The fortress is open from 08:00 to 19:00 in summer (April 1st to October 1st) and 08:30 to 17:30 in winter (October 1st to April 1st). The entry fee is 14 TL.
Ucagiz is a small village two kilometers west of Kalekoy. Found within the borders of Demre County, Ucagiz is located between Antalya’s westernmost cities: Kas and Demre. The village was built on a natural harbor in Kekova and is less touristic than Kalekoy. It is 32 kilometers from Kas and 20 kilometers from Demre. 500-600 people live in the village.
Located far from main roads, it managed to escape mass tourism. Because Ucagiz is on the classic Kas boat trip route, most tourists come by sea and stay for only a short time.
As you approach the harbor, the first thing you’ll see is the Lycian rock tombs sitting in the sea. The ruins of the ancient city of Theimiussa start to the east of the village. You’ll see the castle on top of the hill, part of the city walls now in the sea, the rock-carved dock at the eastern end, and a couple sarcophagi in the ancient city.
Since Kalekoy is located in the Kekova region, you’ll be able to experience many bays, peninsulas, islands, sunken cities, and ancient cities on a boat trip from Kas or Demre.
Kekova Island, at 4.5 km long and 500 meters wide, is the Kekova region’s largest island. And it’s actually the largest Turkish island in the Mediterranean. Stretching parallel to the mainland, it used to be connected to mainland Anatolia. After the violent earthquake that hit the area from Patara to Aspendos in the 2nd century CE, its isthmus along with its settlements sunk into the sea and it became an island. There is no settlement on Kekova Island. You can see the sunken city while sailing around the perimeter.
Hamidiye Bay, which you’ll see near Kalekoy, gets its name from the small Hamidiye Village of just 20 families. The village gets its name from the Hamidiye Battleship that sheltered here during WWI. The Hamidiye Cruiser, captained by Rauf Orbay stayed here with his fleet for a long time before dividing the Greek fleet during the most difficult days of the 1912-1913 Balkan War.
Gokkaya Bay is one of Kekova’s calmest places and a special stop on boat trips. The large bay of Gokkaya, with its calm, wave-free waters, truly is beautiful. It’s surrounded by the mainland on one side and Kekova Island on the other. Many boats on ‘Blue Cruises’ choose to anchor here. The massive Korsan (Pirate’s) Cave is located on the back of Asirli Island, which surrounds the east side of Gokkaya Bay and is big enough for boats to sail inside.
Aperlai is another Lycian settlement that you can see around Kalekoy. It’s located in the part of Kekova closest to Kas on the Sicak Peninsula. Like the rest of Kekova, this settlement was affected by the earthquake. A part of Aperlai is underwater. You can see the ruins if you swim with a snorkel. You can reach Aperlai by boat from Demre, Kas, and Ucagiz.