Sailors visiting Ekincik should not miss the nearby ancient city of Kaunos, situated in modern Dalyan. This Carian city was founded sometime in the archaic period and is mentioned frequently in ancient texts, the historian Herodotus gave it a glowing report in antiquity, his only negative comment being: “The natives of Kaunos have a greenish pallor“ due to malaria. There is no malaria today, but plenty of mosquitos, so bring your repellent!
A more romantic and beautiful location for this jewel of a city can hardly be imagined, situated on a rocky peninsula terminating with an enormous rock, Kaunos juts out from the nearby wooded hills into the marshland that in antiquity was the sea. Its harbour clearly discernible from the amphitheatre has also become unnavigable. Over time the sea has receded some two kilometers to the south due to river silting, thus sealing the fate of Kaunos’ trade-based wealth and causing its demise and ultimate abandonment.
From the earliest times Kaunos was a thriving community on the border of Caria and Lycia and enjoyed a bustling trade with other cities around the ancient world. Its wealth and prestige are attested to by the remains of its fine civic buildings which include an amphitheatre (built around 150 BC and added to in the following centuries), a large public bath in good condition, (one can imagine the white haired city patricians discussing politics in the calderium-hot room) and the remains of an agora (market place), nymphaea (monumental fountain) and stoa (colonnaded meeting place). There is also the remains of a few recently restored temples, closer to the harbour.