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Sura

Travelling westward from Demre to Kaş and reaching the main highway which after the 6th km heads towards the south, one arrives at the Sura Village consisting of a few houses by the side of the road. To the west of the village are the remains of the acropolis city Sura situated on top of the hill, 80 metres high. The name Sura is derived from the word “Soaura” which meant “great and sacred Swa/Soa” in the Luwian/Etruscan language. As a matter of fact, in ancient times, there used to be a temple dedicated to Men, the Anatolian Moon and Light god, and a centre for prophecy in the city. Apollon, formerly Men, was, as in the whole of Lycia, venerated in this area, too, and names of the temple and the centre for prophecy became “Apollon Soura”. According to Painus’ account, the monks in the prophecy temple used to dip pieces of fish on skewers in the water and prophesize according to the shapes of the fish within the water.

The eastern and western sides of the acropolis are bordered by thick walls. Defense towers are seen on the eastern and western acropolis city walls. A Lycian type sarcophagus is seen in the southeast of the acropolis and right across it, there is a rock tomb with an inscription in Lycian on its façade. The Temple of Apollon and the centre for prophecy are reached by going down the steps carved out of rock in the north of the acropolis. Columns with Doric capitals are used to surround the temple built in the form of a templum in antis. The remains of a Byzantine chapel with a single apse are seen in the north of the temple. Additionally, the remains of a lookout tower are found outside the city walls near the main road.

According to the 6th century Lycian inscription found in a rock tomb on the hill of the acropolis, Sura was a member of the Lycian Federation and it was the foremost Apollon sanctuary and centre for prophecy in the eastern Lycian region. During the Persian and Roman eras, Sura continued to be considered a sacred city. When Christianity spread in Anatolia, a Byzantine chapel with a single apse was built in the north of the Temple of Apollon and the temple for prophecy and it was used as an Orthodox basilica. Sura’s popularity began to decline as the Church of St. Nicholas in Myra became popular and the church became a place of pilgrimage.

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