The three million holidaymakers that fly into Dalaman on the scorching Turkish coast each year normally only have one thing on their minds and that’s hitting the beach for sunbathing and relaxation.
And why not? The coastline in the Dalaman region is blessed with numerous beautiful sandy beaches, sweeping vistas and plenty of sunshine, so it’s rude not to put on your swimwear, slap on some sun cream and make the most of it.
Monarch has plenty of accommodation options in the main Turquoise Coast resorts of Marmaris, Fethiye, Dalyan, Oludeniz and Hisaronu, so you’re really spoilt for beachside holiday choices in this part of the world.
As a result of the area’s sun, sea and sand focus, it can be difficult for culture vultures to see through the sun loungers and parasols and realise that the Dalaman region has plenty of other attractions of a more historic variety.
Impressive ancient ruins
One of the region’s most impressive cultural attractions is the ancient town of Myra, which is located near to the modern resort of Demre, a few hours south of Dalaman.
With a history stretching back two millennia, a visit to Myra is a real treat for history buffs. The town’s most famous resident was Saint Nicholas – whose reputation for gift-giving inspired the legend of Santa Claus (Old Saint Nick).
The Church of St Nicholas, which was rebuilt in the 8th century, is one of Myra’s biggest attractions. Inside the ruins are the remains of frescoes and the tomb of St Nicholas, minus his bones, which now reside in Bari, Italy.
Myra’s two other main attractions are the hugely impressive tombs hewn out of the cliff face and reminiscent of Petra in Jordan, and a large, well preserved amphitheatre, which would have welcomed hundreds of audience members in its heyday.
A curious old railway station
Dalaman itself is home to one of Turkey’s oddest attractions: a railway station that doesn’t go anywhere. The Alexandria train station was reportedly built at the turn of the 20th century after a shipping mix up.
The story goes that the then khedive of Egypt, Abbas Hilmi Pasha, wanted to build a property in Turkey, but the materials were accidentally sent to Alexandria in Egypt. In their place, he was shipped the pieces for a station. The mistake was too costly to rectify, so the building was erected in Dalaman, even though it’s few miles of track don’t connect to anywhere.
Dalaman isn’t just home to old relics either. Earlier this year, it hosted the seventh Festival of Culture, Tourism and Sweetgum (a type of tree native to the region) – a five-day event featuring Turkish music performances, a cooking competition, a fashion show, folk dancing and a Nomad night.
Fun-filled events like these are a great way to gain an appreciation for the living, breathing local culture as opposed to the lifestyles of ancient saints and also see a different side to Dalaman from its tourist industry – so make sure you check the events calendar to see what’s going on when you’re in the area.
Like all popular destinations, there was life on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast before tourism and it certainly makes for a more enjoyable experience for both you and your hosts if you take the time to sample and understand it.