Living Traditions in the Mountains
The quiet and empty villages and towns in the Taurus during winter become alive once summer sets in. Almost every village, town or county starts with the preparations for their annual festival. These festivals always have a theme or are named after their produce. For example, one of the regions with the most abundant plant diversity, are the plateaus of the Gündoğmuş District, which has the highest quality honey. The Honey Festival in Gündoğmuş draws attendants from near and far.
Bademli Village in the Akseki district near the province of Konya is famed for its wood carving. The inhabitants of Bademli have been doing this handicraft for many centuries and mainly craft kitchenware, particularly wooden spoons. The wood carving products that are produced in the snow covered village are exhibited during the Wooden Spoon Festival. The largest settlement in Akseki, Cevizli is a typical town of the Taurus. Cevizli, which lies on the ancient road that connects Antalya and Alanya to Central Anatolia, is known for its Ayran Festival. The town serves as a gathering point for locals and tourists during the activities.
The Taurus Mountains are known as the homeland of the genus Galanthus or snowdrop flower. Known as the Taurus Galanthus, snowdrops grow above a certain elevation, mostly in the Akseki region. The flowers are particularly plentiful in the surroundings of Çimi village. Snowdrops often start to bloom even before the snow is gone from the ground.
The snowdrops which bloom in the mountains of Çimi have longer and larger leaves. Today snowdrops are a popular export item and are a protected species. The Çimi Plateau is also renowned for its honey. The Snowdrop and Flower Festival is a welcome opportunity for Çimi Village to sell their products and also promote the village and surroundings.
Keşkek is a meat stew made with ground wheat and requires arduous effort to prepare. This ceremonial dish is cooked on special occasions such as weddings, religious holidays and other festivities. This traditional Anatolian dish is also popular in the Taurus region. The Keşkek Feast held in Pınarbaşı under the old oak trees in the village square is a very popular event that draws many people.
The district of İbradı annually holds the Grape Festival, which takes place after the harvest season in autumn. This festival in İbradı, where traditions are strongly kept alive, is a colourful experience that attracts many tourists from the adjacent areas of Manavgat and Side.
The best grapes are grown in Elmalı, west of the Gulf. The Lycian Wines that have received many awards in international competitions are produced in Elmalı. However, the dominant products of traditional viticulture in Elmalı are fresh grapes and molasses. The Pekmez (Molasses) Boiling Festival is held after the grape harvest each year. Not only local people, but foreign tourists staying at seaside resorts show great interest in this harvest festival.
Ancient theatres which have been unearthed in excavations carried out in recent years are used for cultural events, to great acclaim. The foremost of these festivals is the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival, which is held annually in the ancient Roman Aspendos Theatre. Many world-renowned orchestras, opera and ballet companies perform in this summer-long festival, which is hugely popular with locals and foreign tourists staying in the tourist destinations of Alanya, Manavgat/Side, Belek and Kemer.
The Side International Culture and Art Festival is held in Side each year and the magnificent open air venues of Side, such as the Ancient Theatre or the Temple of Apollo, host impressive performances of renowned interpreters of classical, modern and contemporary music. The festival is spread out over the whole tourism season and its reputation is steadily growing. Side today is an important Mediterranean resort town, distinguished by the quality of its tourist facilities.
Located 25 kilometers inward from the coast of Finike, the Classical Music Festival held in the ancient theatre of Arykanda is another important event. This festival plays an important role in increasing the visibility of Arykanda outside its borders.
Another classical music festival in the province is held in the ancient city of Rhodiapolis near Kumluca. A severe earthquake in the 2nd century AD caused extensive damage across many towns in Lycia. Rhodiapolis was known as the city of the famed and wealthy Opramoas who gave financial assistance to many cities ravaged by the earthquake. As an expression of gratitude each Lycian town put up an epigraph extolling the generosity of Opramoas. The festivities are held in the ancient theatre next to Opramoas mausoleum, which offers the spectator an unforgettable experience among the unique mountain and sea views. It is certain that the concerts in Rhodiapolis will become a fixture among the region’s cultural activities in the coming years.
The Kaş-Lycia Culture and Art Festival organised in the picturesque coastal resort town of Kaş doesn’t only feature cultural events, but also sport competitions like swimming. The swimming competition takes place between Megisti Island and Kaş and gathers a large number of competitors and spectators.
Alanya, on the eastern shores of the Gulf, has a distinguished place among musical and sports activities. The Alanya International Triathlon Championship is a fixed event in the annual triathlon calendar and is organised by Alanya Municipality and the Turkish Triathlon Federation. Men and women from all nationalities attend this event and the highest placed competitors are awarded prize money.
The reputation of the beach volleyball tournaments held in Alanya also increases from year to year.
The festivities of Abdal Musa have already been briefly mentioned. In June of each year, the three-day long festival in the village ofTekke in Elmalı attracts people from all over the country and from abroad, who come to fulfill their religious duties. Participants of the festivities feel privileged to have witnessed a centuries-old tradition.