The Ancient City of Trebenna

Here at JoSiTo Guesthouse Camp we are surrounded by cliffs. The Geyikbayirı climbing area consists of numerous crags. Above the Trebenna sector the rocky mountain is watching over the valley. Under it, a steep cliff is rising from the forest. Nothing spectacular about it, you might think. But there’s more to it than meets the eye…

We headed to Trebenna sector, but instead we crossed the river to the house and followed a path through the forest. We reached an old dirt road and then up again on the path. Stone cones guided us all the way. At the next dirt road we knew we were getting close. Here and there, under the trees, we could see large rocks arranged as if to form a terrace. This surely wasn’t nature’s hand. We walked for a bit more up the road and the first obvious signs were right in front of us. A stone wall and large blocks of carved rocks on the ground. We go a little further. On the right, behind the trees, above the cliffs, we find the ruins of the Ancient City of Trebenna.

The city prospered during the Roman era when, according to an inscription found on the walls, it was a member of the Lycian League. But it seems that it was inhabited before that, sometime during the Hellenistic period or even earlier.

First we follow the path, curiously looking at the walls on our left. Most of the entrances in the imposing buildings are well preserved. We find our way through the collapsed blocks of carved stone. Many of them still have fine details and floral motifs. Large tiles of rock were used to raise the walls that are incredibly thick even today. If we look carefully, we can see ancient inscriptions introduced in the construction. They took advantage of every shape the land had to offer. Massive pillars were finely carved and then put up to sustain the tall entrances. There must have dripped a lot of sweat in putting this city together. All over the cliffs we see numerous rock-rooms dug by human hands. Some of them were houses, some tombs. Finally we pass through one of the complex doorways and inside we find other carvings in the rocks. One in particular caught our attention. Looking just like a sarcophagi carved into stone, it had a small window connecting it to the exterior, with flowers and inscription above it. Maybe this was a church? Or a necropolis? Further up we reach some other rooms dug in cliffs rising from the ground. Huge rock pillars are lying on the ground, their rectangular shape still intact. One of the bigger ones is standing over a big diameter hole in the ground.  What could it be? A fountain, up here, dug into the rock? We try to move on through the bushes and smashed blocks and find something that looks like an old bastion. From here we could see the whole valley, JoSiTo Camp under us, Geyikbayir to the left, the main climbing sectors in front of us and Antalya and the Mediterranean on the right. We try our best to explore every corner of this city. When we return to the first buildings, we find another large stone block tumbled on the ground. It is hollow inside and washed away inscriptions on it. Maybe part of another sarcophagi?

Back on the dirt road we are still turning our heads toward the old city, still amazed by the massive constructions built more than two millenniums ago. Being so remote and little known, everything we found was far beyond our expectations. And to top it all, when beginning our descent on the path through the forest, there they were, two tombs carved in a large boulder, one by the other. A stone lid was collapsed on the ground. Just across the valley we can make up another similar tomb.

We were back to JoSiTo in no time and just as we reached the river it started to rain. Once again, perfect timing.

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