Not impressed? Well, most of the happenings in the Bible were no more than 3000 years ago. The Egyptian pyramids on the Nile were built a mere 5000 years ago.
Very few places on this planet have been inhabited for more than a few millennia. Karain has been inhabited continuously for twenty-five of them!
You can visit Karain cave on a day-excursion from Antalya in combination with the trek to nearby Termessos, and if you move right along, you can be back in the city for a late lunch and an afternoon swim.
On the Burdur-Korkuteli highway north of Antalya, the road to Karain is a right turn just before the left turn to Termessos. Watch for the sign.
The narrow road wanders through farming villages and the town of Çiglik (CHUH-luhk, where you can buy drinks and snacks), narrowing in some places to one lane. Signage is barely adequate, but if no one steals one of the "Karain" signs, you should make it the 12 km (7.5 miles) from the Burdur-Korkuteli highway to Karain.
The road dead-ends at the little Karain Museum, so you'll know when you've arrived.
Pay your YTL2 admission fee, have a look at the prehistoric animal teeth, arrowheads and Paleolithic tools in the small museum, then begin the steep, hot climb up the rough rock path to the cave, high on the mountainside. (It took me 15 minutes to make the climb in high heat.)
The cavern entrance bears vestiges of the archeologists' excavations. Beyond the entrance are several large rooms with weirdly-shaped walls and ceilings, luridly lit by high-powered electric lights.
It's spooky, but fascinating.
Feeling the coolness inside the cave, it begins to dawn on you how people could have lived here for millennia, all the way up to the 1700s AD:
- Temperatures in the cave remained moderate in the heat of summer and the chill of winter (as the Antalya region has a moderate climate); and winters here are mild.
- The well-watered plain below must have furnished plentiful nuts, berries and game to early hunter-gatherers and, later, crops to primitive farmers. Indeed, the plain is still rich farming country tilled by Turkish farmers.
- The cave's location high on the steep mountainside is excellent for defense: some enemies would simply not have noticed it, and others could be sent rolling down the jagged limestone face fairly easily.
It doesn't take long to visit the cave interior, after which the trek back to the museum takes less time than the ascent, for sure.
If you have not yet visited nearby Termessos, that should be your next stop. In any case, backtrack to the Burdur-Korkuteli-Antalya highway, no matter where you're headed next.