Uzuncaburç (Diocaesarea-Olba)

Uzuncaburç (“Tall-ish Tower”), 32 km (20 miles) north ofSilifke (map) near Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, is the ancient city of Diocaesarea-Olba, famous for its great Temple of Zeus Olbius.

On your way into the hills from Silifke, you’ll pass through the village of Demircili (7 km/4.3 miles), called Imbriogon in ancient times, which has several impressive tombs visible from the road.

At Uzuncaburç (oo-ZOON-jah-boorch) the most impressive ruins are those of the Temple of Zeus Olbius, the nearby Temple of Tyche, and the monumental city gate. There are also ruins of a nymphaeum (fountain), and a theater.

Of course there is the eponymous tall Hellenistic tower, a stolid squarish one over 22 meters (72 feet) high, built for observation and defense. You’ll see it as you enter the village. You can enter it by a door on the south side, but there’s little to see inside, and you cannot ascend.

Beyond the tower, walk past the village’s main square, with its bust of Atatürk, and on for 10 minutes to the north to the valley necropolis, rich in rock-hewn tombs and sarcophagi.

From the village, signs point the way several kilometers further on to Olba, where there are the slight remains of another temple, and an impressive ruined aqueductcrossing a valley scattered with tombs:

Aqueduct at Olba, Uzuncaburc, Turkey

—by Tom Brosnahan


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