OLYMPOS

On the Antalya-Finike road, in order to go to Olympos, you should make a turn from Ulupinar when you see the sign pointing to the ruins. A narrow but beautiful road will take you to the beach of Olympos. To go to the ruins, you'll pass a creek and walk a little on a wide beach which will take you to the creek that passes across Olympos. Olympos was set up in the Hellenistic period. We have coins of the city printed in the second century B.C.. In 100 B.C., Olympos became one of the six leading cities that had the right to vote. In the first century B.C., pirates became so fond of the city that Olympos almost became a settlement area for the pirates. In 78 B.C. the Roman commander Servilius Isaurieus drove out the pirates and added the city to Roman territory. During the Roman era, the city became very famous with the cult of the blacksmith god Vulcan (Hephaestus) in nearby Çirali, where natural gases keep a number of flame perpetually burning.

Opramoas of Rhodiapolis, who helped to restore all the Lycian cities in the second century B.C., also gave a hand to Olympos. He helped in the repair and restoration of many buildings in the city. This way Olympos had the most prosperous era of its history during this century. After this golden age, pirates kept troubling the city. As a result of the pirates' attacks, wealthy cities became poorer and lost their significance. From this time on, the city survived only as a small, insignificant city.

The city enjoyed something of a revival when the knights of Venice, Genoa, and Rhodes came to spread themselves around the Mediterranean, but the city lost all its charm after the Ottomans established superiority over the seas. Olympos was totally abandoned in the 15th century.

Olympos is spread across the two sides of the creek that passes through it. The hill that rises behind the tombs can be seen from the beach, and this was the acropolis of Olympos. The remains on the hill belong to a fortress built in the Middle Ages. When you look down from this hill, you can see this lovely river which makes the city resemble Venice. The river was directed into a channel with polygonal walls built on its two sides. The two sides were joined by a bridge whose remains are still visible today.

On the other side of the river, there are remains of a building with windows. This was the Turkish-style bath of the city. You can walk across the river by stepping on the large pieces of stones in the river. Here there is theater of Olympos but it's a bit difficult to visit theater because of tall greenery. The theater's paradoes with vaults, pieces of decorated doors and niches scattered around indicate the presence of a Roman theater here. Between theater and the sea, there is a Byzantine basilica and city walls. On the other side of the river, there are remains of a Turkish-style bath. The city's agora and gymnasium should have been in the wide, open area in the middle.

The burning stones which are located about an hour's ride from Olympos have a mythological story behind them: A divinely handsome young man named Bellerophon used to live in Argos, Greece. Bellerophon wanted very much to possess the flying horse Pegasus. So he chased Pegasus for days and nights but with no success. One day, in a dream, the gods told Bellerophon how he could gain control of the winged horse. He did what the gods told him and used a golden bridle that was given to him to tame the horse when the animal was drinking water.

One day Bellerophon accidentally killed someone. After this accident, he left Argos and found shelter with the King of Tiryns, Proteus. Soon Proteus' queen fell in love with this handsome young man, and she told him that she wanted to sleep with him. However Bellerophon, not wanting to be disrespectful towards his host, turned down the queen's advances. In revenge, the queen told her husband that the young man had tried to seduce her by sneaking into her bed. The king grew irate but he didn't want to kill his guest. Proteus sent a letter to his father-in-law, the king of Lycia, asking him to kill Bellerophon.

At length, Bellerophon reached Lycia. The king met him near the Xanthos River and he was the king's guest for nine days. It was only on the ninth day that the king received the letter from his son-in-law and realized that Bellerophon was to be killed. But he also found that he couldn't kill him and so asked the Chimera monster to do the job for him. The Chimera was a creature with the head of a lion, the body of a she-goat, and the tail of a snake. The creature breathed out flames from his mouth. Bellerophon, with his winged horse Pegasus and the support of gods, defeated Chimera. Bellerophon also defeated other creatures sent by the king. Seeing this, the king believed that Bellerophon was a descendent of the gods and he presented him many gifts. Bellerophon married the king's daughter. He was a descendent of Poseidon. Bellerophon had three children from this marriage. His daughter Laodameia slept with Zeus, and she gave birth to Sarpedon. When he grew up, Sarpedon became the Lycian king and fought in the Trojan War.

During the war, he angrily shouted at those who had been left behind in the battle,

"I have come from faraway lands

I've come from Xanthos of Anarphor

From Lycia, a faraway land."

After performing many feats of courage, he was killed by Patroclus, a Trojan warrior fighting with the weapons of Achilles. In his dying breath, he said Glaucos should succeed him. Zeus ordered Apollo to take his son's dead body to Lycia. The Chimera, who was born to the underworld creatures Typhon and Echidna, used to live in Olympos, which is today called Çirali or Yanarta?. Chimera was killed by Bellerophon astride his flying horse, and the creature was still breathing flames to the last moment of his life. Today, natural gases keep the flames burning eternally among the rocks in Olympos, and this is the legend behind the burning rocks.

Source: Ministery of Culture