Wide, protective sandy beaches and a deep Mediterranean bay helped make Patara the wealthy capital of the Lycian-Pamphylian province during the Roman Empire. Those same attributes have attracted developers who today are eager to exploit this portion of the southern Turkish coast. Patara itself has so far resisted tourist development but hotels have been built on its periphery. Most of Patara remains unexcavated, though many monuments are visible, including a bouleuterioN (council building), Roman baths, a granarium, a theater, a stone itinerarium listing distances and directions to other cities, and a Corinthian-style temple. Exposure to sand and ground water infiltration, in addition to tourist pressures and seismic activity have sped their decay.
1998 World Monuments Watch
Patara was included in the 1998 World Monuments Watch and, following a technical mission in 2000, WMF supported the stabilization of the Corinthian temple on the site. The second-century building had been incorporated as a bastion of the city wall erected in the Byzantine period. It was partially excavated by archaeologists in 1998, revealing fairly intact cella walls, and the front elevation containing the base of a column of the prostylos and a carved architrave. The doorway, though well preserved, was in a precarious state with a fractured marble lintel balanced atop an unsteady portal frame, and its collapse would have destroyed the entire façade. Conservators intervened in 2001, stabilizing it and preventing collapse.
The Corinthian temple is the best-preserved building of its kind in the region and is an important reminder of Patara’s past. With the cella walls over 20 feet, the temple is one of the largest ancient Roman enclosures still surviving.