Cave country                                                      Population: negligible

GracesDue west of Kızkalesi is the pretty little fishing harbour of Narlıkuyu which has one claim to fame, namely a Roman mosaic depicting the Three Graces that is preserved in situ (it's called a museum but really it's just a single mosaic).

The mosaic was once part of the floor of a fourth-century AD bath-house and the Greek inscription on it translates as: "My friend, if you wonder who has discovered the hidden source of this wonderful bathwater, then you should know that he is Poimenios who ruled the holy islands in justice and was a friend of emperors."

Three km uphill from the harbour lie two curious vegetation-filled sinkholes dubbed Cennet (Heaven) and Cehennem (Hell). 

Perhaps fortunately you cannot descend into hell although you can descend (!) into heaven, an experience that is fun going down but not so much fun on the way back, especially in the high humidity of summer. At the bottom of the steps you arrive in front of a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Cennet1

Beyond the chapel the steps continue down and into a large cave. At this point they become very slippery and as there's nothing to see inside the cave you might want to call it a day and start climbing back up again.

As you approach the sites you will see to the left of the road the remains of a late Hellenistic temple to Zeus that was turned into a church in the fifth century. The names of its priests are incised into the side of one of the walls.

In the fields behind it extensive scattered ruins suggest that there was once quite a large settlement here. 

If you follow the signs beside the temple you will come eventually to the entrance to the Astim Mağarası (Asthma Cave) hidden inside a restaurant and souvenir complex.

Don't let that put you off. In some ways this is a better cave than the Cennet one, with a walkway winding past some truly spectacular stalactite and stalagmites. The air inside is though to be good for asthmatics, hence its name. Astim


Narlıkuyu is ringed with fish restaurants offering rakı and mezes. They get busy round lunch-time when tour boats pull in; if you stay at the hotel you should be able to appreciate them better.

The road up to Cennet Cehennem is lined with outdoor cafes touting a standard menu of köy kahvaltısı, börek, gözleme, sıkma, sac kavurma, tantuni, çay, meşrubat and ayran. The higher you go the more deeply buried in bougainvillaea they become.


Hotel Calamie

If you don't want to stay in Kızkalesi this 47-room hotel overlooking the harbour might make a good, if not particularly cheap, alternative.

Tel: 0324-723 3061

Transport info

Frequent dolmuşes run from Kızkalesi to Narlıkuyu - ask to be dropped at the museum.

There's no transport uphill to Cennet Cehennem (2km) although the owner of the restaurant beside the turn-off may provide an ad hoc taxi service if he's not busy. The walk down again is delightful with Kızkalesi floating on the horizon.Narli

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