Temple of Zeus Goatherd

Friendly Smiles at the Temple of Zeus

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Temple of Zeus Goatherd
The friendliest goatherder!

While exploring the coastal areas of the Mediterranean you can’t help but to trip over ancient ruins from all sorts of civilizations that came through Turkey at one time or another.  One such site is Uzunburç, about 27km north of Silifke.  It was built as a Hellinistic worship site, but later the Romans came along and built a fantastic little theater and a huge Temple to Zeus.  It is amazing to wander down to the center of these amphitheaters and test the acoustics.  No microphones were needed.  All you have to do is talk in a natural voice and you could hear every word, every inflection from any seat in the house.

We’ve been there a few times and it’s always such a laid back tourist site.  All the people get to know you after only one or two visits.  The village ladies all come running with their hand-embroidered scarves and knitting when they see a car pulling in.  You can also find whatever produce is in season, and spices too.  One man had a bucketful of grapes that were ripe and sweet along with some dried green berries that you are supposed to eat with some fruit (like dried grapes) that would supposedly help you stave off a cold.  I believe it too.  How convenient that you harvest the berries in the fall, when the weather is just starting to change and everyone comes down with colds.  We tasted them, and they weren’t too bitter, but I couldn’t see myself chomping on them for a snack, so we passed.

One of the wonderful things about this site is that there is a village that surrounds it, and the people have lived there for centuries.  We had just entered Zeus’ temple, which is very impressive with its granite columns, and in wanders an old lady (she had to be about 80 years old) and her herd of goats.  We watched as they scrambled among and over the ruins, playing and butting each other as again as they’ve done for centuries.





Olba, Turkey
The Roman aqueduct at Olba.

Further down the path, we were looking at one of the old buildings and right there was some apple trees that had recently been picked with wooden crates full to the brim, and a lady hanging her washing down the hill.  After that we stopped at one of the city gates, and leaning against the wall were some buckets of grapes waiting to be processed in a  more modern grape press (although not much different at all from the style of the ancient olive press we saw at Kizkalesi the day before).

This trip to Uzunburç, just like the first time, was a wonderful mix of history, culture and just being outside to enjoy the weather.  As we continued down the road to the old aqueduct, we passed through rich fields of tomatoes, gourds, pumpkins, and other fall veggies.  We saw donkeys, children, and old men out enjoying the end of the day.  It’s a beautiful and peaceful four kilometers, and even before you get to the aqueduct there are scatterings of ruins and sarcophagi so you know you are on the right track.

The aqueduct itself lies in a narrow valley with a small creek or river that runs through it.  The valley walls are littered on both sides with carved out tombs, rooms, and sarcophagi.  Some are more ornate than others but all have been either pillaged or salvaged and have been shipped off to museums.  Here we are in a whole valley of tombs, and I photograph a horse’s skeleton.  Pretty cool stuff!

Temple of Zeus
Goats enjoying themselves on the Temple of Zeus.

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