The Datça peninsula is a narrow strip of land jutting into the sea where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean. Approximately 100 KM long, it is a part of the Muğla province, nestled between Bodrum (to the north) and Marmaris (to the south). The peninsula is mostly rocky, wind-blown and barren, making it a perfect location for electricity generating wind turbines. Having said that, two areas in the region are especially fertile, and, as a result, the Datça peninsula has established world-class reputation in the production of almonds and grapes – and wine produced from those grapes.
Unlike other coastal regions in Turkey, the Datça region is fairly rustic as much of land is protected by environmental order. Home to peaceful beaches, authentic villages with old stone houses, and plenty of raw land, the Datça peninsula is a place for nature-lovers and those who prefer a quiet get-away, as opposed to holiday makers who enjoy the livelier atmosphere of resort towns featuring scores of shopping centers, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs.
Turkey's 800 KM Carian Trail, the longest walking path in the country, runs through the Datça peninsula.
Three Jewels of the Datça Peninsula
We enjoy visiting three main spots on the peninsula: the town site of Datça, Palamut Bükü, and the ruins of Ancient Knidos.
Coordinates: 36° 44' 1.1616'' N, 27° 40' 13.7676'' E
Datça is the main town in the region. Located about half-way down the peninsula, it is about 70 KM from Marmaris and 160 KM from Dalaman airport. The remote location and less than convenient access is probably the main reason that Datça has retained its pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. Like other tourist destinations in Turkey, the town has plenty of restaurants and bars set along the beach, and the yacht harbour is surrounded by bars, coffee shops, and cafes. But, in Datça, you are just as likely to see a local as a tourist frequenting these spots. It's a very authentic place – and caters to a unique type of visitor.
The Datça harbour is relatively small (there's only space for about 40 boats) but well-serviced. A massive statue of a harbour seal greets boats as they enter the marina. And there's also a statue of Demeter, the goddess of fertility near the harbour. (The statue was erected as a memorial to the original marble statue that archaeologists found in the Knidos area – and now sits in the British Museum.)
Just beyond the harbour, there is a spring-fed pond called Ilica Lake. The water is believed by some to have therapeutic properties. Whether you believe that or not, there's no disputing that watching the fresh water tumble over a small waterfall into the sea is extremely relaxing.
Coordinates: 36° 40' 12.8172'' N, 27° 29' 39.192'' E
On a peninsula with almost too many bays and coves to count, Palamut Bükü is a small fishing-settlement-turned-holiday village along the coast with a 2km stretch of beach. Due to its geography, the wide open bay has some of the cleanest water in the region – with underwater visibility up to 20 meters!
The actual town site of Palamut Bükü is located slightly inland from the coast. This positioning is common for many of the villages on the Datça Peninsula to protect the original settlements from pirates who roamed the Aegean coast in the past.
Coordinates: 36° 41' 15.8424'' N, 27° 23' 36.1896'' E
The site of ancient Knidos (or Cnidus, if you prefer) is located on Turkey's Carian coast, just a few kilometres from Datça. Positioned between the Greek islands of Kos, Nisyros, Tilos, Rhodes, and Symi, the specific town site was most likely selected for settlement because of the two naturally occurring harbours created by the position of the small island of Cape Krio alongside the mainland.
Now an open air museum operated by the Turkish government, the site covers approximately 80 hectares and is surrounded by about 4 KM of stone walls, probably built to defend the ancient city from invasion. Rather than follow the natural contours of the land, Knidos was designed and built in terraces following a precise grid pattern with streets running north to south, and east to west. Historic excavation of the site is minimal, but thus far, archaeologists have discovered Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine-era ruins, including:
- Colourful stone mosaics from early Christian churches
- An agora (marketplace)
- Two theatres – the fully excavated "little theatre" built into the slope overlooking the commercial harbour has an estimated seating a capacity of 4,500 to 5,000 people, and the larger theatre could seat about 20,000!
- An odeum (a building used for artistic performances)
- Several temples, including:
- Temple of Dionysus
- Temple of Aphrodite – which, partially due to a now-missing statue of the goddess, was a famous pilgrimage and sanctuary. The statue, originally commissioned by the nearby island of Kos, was crafted in 365 BC, was the first depicting Aphrodite in the nude. However, the people of Kos were scandalized by her nakedness and opted for a more conservative, clothed version, giving the statue to Knidos.
- Temple of the Muses
- Knidos sundial – first built during Hellenistic times, the use of sundials for monitoring the passage of time was advanced by Eudoksus, a Knidos astrologist and mathematician, and Euryphon, a Knidos physician.
- An extensive necropolis (cemetery) with dozens of elaborate tombs surrounding the city.
While history in the area goes back as far as 3000 BC, there is archaeological evidence that the site we know as Knidos was originally established in 7th or 8th century BC, becoming an important Greek city in 4th century BC, and eventually abandoned in the 8th century AD. Knidos was considered a wealthy and prosperous community, whose main industries included agricultural products like olive oil and wine, and ceramics and pottery. And, based on the number and diversity of buildings on-site, Knidos was an important cultural and political hub in the region.
Accessible by land and sea, there is still so much to learn about the ancient city of Knidos. We think it's well worth a visit when you visit the Datça Peninsula!
Highlights of the Datça Peninsula: A Photo Gallery
Click on any image to expand it.