The ancient city of Caunus on the Dalyan River. Who built it and why?


Caunus – old harbour with opening to the sea. Agora with temple in foreground

Caunus is one of the favourite ancient sites which we visit on our luxury gulet cruises in Southern Turkey. It is very impressively sited with its acropolis (high city) on top of a large and prominent rock.

It can only easily be reached by cruising in a riverboat up the shallow Dalyan River from a gulet such as ours which waits near the mouth of the river.

Caunus is approached slowly as the river winds itself between tall beds of reeds. The river was once much deeper, leading to a large harbour at the foot of the city on the hilly slopes.

The city was developed by Mausolus (he of the famous Mausoleum) as his easternmost stronghold. It is a good site to visit, with beautiful views, a fine Roman theatre, a rare Roman bath, remains of a Greek round temple and an Early Christian church which once had a dome.

The theatre is a good place to view the original harbour. Further up the river are the six impressive rock cut temple-tombs that remind visitors of Petra in Jordan. A picnic lunch on the river is a delightful conclusion to the visit.