Maiden's Sand Path of Kizkumu Beach – Marmaris, Turkey - Atlas Obscura

Maiden's Sand Path of Kizkumu Beach

Marmaris, Turkey

According to local legends, the shallow sandbar that allows visitors to walk across Orhaniye Bay has a tragic backstory. 

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The area surrounding Turkey’s Orhaniye Bay, with its pine forests, warm beaches, and clear sea, is beautiful—some may say magical, even miraculous. This is because of Kizkumu Beach, where one can seemingly walk on the water. 

A sandy shelf, two meters wide and stretching over half a kilometer into the bay, provides a shallow hidden path flanked by much deeper water. Visitors can easily walk 600 meters towards the open sea. It is reminiscent of the story of Jesus miraculously walking on water, and as such the beach is popularly known as Jesus Beach. But the area’s true name, Kizkumu, alludes to another, more tragic, traditional tale.

Kizkumu translates as “the maiden’s sand,” in reference to a local legend concerning how the path was formed. It is said that a princess, much to the royal family’s disapproval, fell in love with a local fisherman for whom she would often break out of her castle to meet. 

After the princess’ escapades were discovered, her father the king exiled the fisherman across the sea. The king allowed the princess to visit the bay to grieve her lost love. Little did he know though, that each time the princess visited the bay she would collect sand in the folds of her dress and sprinkle it into the sea. Little by little, day by day, the sand collected until a path to her exiled love began to form. When the king discovered his daughter’s plans he sent his guards to capture her. She fled, and ran along the incomplete path until she fell into the bay. The red sands surrounding the path are said to be tinted by the princess’ blood, haunting her father forever.

In another, more magical version of the fable, the king ordered his guards to follow the princess one night. Upon discovering the young couple, the guards tried to capture the princess and the fisherman. In an attempt to escape her oppressive father and his guards, the pair thought to swim across the bay to freedom. As their feet touched the water it turned to sand, and with every step a path formed beneath them. But when the guards loosed an arrow at the fisherman it struck the princess instead and the path came to a sudden halt, drowning them both.

At the edge of the beach, as the path begins to stretch out through the deep waters of the bay, there is a sculpture of the princess from these stories. She is looking into the horizon across the sea, with a pile of sand in her palm.

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