Things to do?
- Daily Boat Trip
- Yanartas Tour
- Rock Climbing
- Jeep Safari
- Mountain Tahtali, Aerial Cableway Trip
Ancient Olympos city is located 80 km to the south of Antalya. In this region Taurus Mountains are very steep and the rivers have formed several valleys.
The Olympos stream, which sources from the Olympos city, divided the city into two in the ancient times, as it does today. Ulupinar stream takes place in the north of the city. The road from west passes through Kavusuk canyon, which is the narrowest part of Akcay valley, following the sides of the valley before it reaches the sea. The steep heights, starting from the south of the city with Sepet ridge, reach to a height of 568 m at the top of Musa Mountain. The steep side at the north is the southern side of Onur Mountain. Gol Buku hill takes place at the west. The east side opens to the Mediterranean. Olympos is lost between the mountains with this location and takes place at the two sides of the valley that opens to the sea.
The ancient Olympos city, which takes place at the east of Lycia, has been visited by many tourists and researchers up to now and publications have been made both on its inscriptions and remains. Although the etymological analysis can not explain its meaning and origin completely, it is thought that, it originates from ancient Anatolian languages and had been used in the meaning of “High Mountain, Grand Mountain". The Olympos city in Lycia must have been named after the Tahtali Mountain, which takes place 10 km far from the city, at the closest position to the sea with its peak of 2375 m. However, in some publications, Olympos Mountain and Musa Mountain are told to be the same. Although the date of establishment of the city is not known definitely, it is first seen in the history with its coins of Lycian Union between the years 168 - 78 B.C. Olympos was one of the six privileged cities in this union, with its right of three votes. Sometimes, the president of this union was from Olympos. The city was invaded by the pirates coming from Phaselis and Cilica in 80 B.C.
Xenychetes -one of the most famous Cilician pirates- lived in a castle near Olympos. As chaos in the Anatolian shore and mountains arose, the Roman navy set sail from the ancient Roman city Tarentum under command of the Roman commander and senator Publis Servilius Vatia in 78 B.C. Servilius first attacked to the pirates in east Lycia; then destroyed the famous castle of Xenychetes after winning the three maritime battles at cape Gelidonia. After the death of Xenychetes, Olympos had been bound to the Roman state Cilicia, together with the other neighbor cities and excluded from the Lycian union. After this date, the city had not been accepted to the union again and stamped no federal coins anymore. However, the name of a Licyiarch (administrator) is mentioned in a mausoleum opened in 1990. Emperor Hadrianus visited the city, which achieved its previous importance again in the Empire Ages of Rome, in his second journey to Anatolia (129 – 131 B.C.). In this period, the city was named Hadrianopolis to honor the visit of the emperor. In an inscription found in the city, a statute erected in the honor of emperor Marcus Aurelius is mentioned of.
Christianity reached to the city in its early ages. The first known bishop is Methodios, who was killed in the age of Diochletianus. The bishop named Aristochrytos had attended to the consuls in Ephesus in 431 and in Istanbul in 451. Anatolius in 458 and Ionnus in 536 are the last bishops known. The city was invaded by Venetian, Genovese and Rhodian Knights during the crusades. In this age, two castles had been built in the Acropolis and in the slope at the south and there had been settlements in some of the buildings inside the city. In the 15th century, when Mehmet II was the sultan, Olympos had been joined to the Ottoman land together with the whole Tekeli (Teke) peninsula. It has been used as winter quarters by the yuruks in 18th, 19th centuries and in the beginning of 20th century.
Many remains of the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ages of the city can be found today. The most intense population was at the both sides of the Goksu stream, which flows through the city.
It is possible that, the first settlement had been in the Acropolis, which is near the opening of the stream that was also used for transport. The settlement had spread to Goksu valley in time.
The most important remains are; the necropolis, which consists of room tombs used in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ages and Lycian sacrophaguses; the theatre that had been built in the Hellenistic age and also used in later ages with some additions, the street with columns, the remains of baths and pier; the necropoline Ion temple and the house with mosaics.
Chimera, which takes place by the northeast side of Catal Mountain (to the east of ancient Olympos), is a natural flame fed by the methane leaking from the earth. The environment of this flame has been used as an important Hepaistos cult center in the ancient times.
Hepaistos had been thrown to the mountain Olympos by Zeus, since he had been very ugly when he was born. Hepaistos had been looked down on since he was ugly and also lame. He had run from the skies and earth and lived under the volcanoes and chosen ironworking as his job.
Yanartas is also called Hepaisteion because of the Hepaistos temple nearby. It had been considered a holy place even after the Hepaistos cult ended and Christianity had been accepted. Some inscriptions and remains of the altar of the temple can be seen even today. A large basilica had been built over the temple in the Byzantine age. There are other structures to the east of the basilica, which are also dated back to the Byzantine age. There is also a fountain at this part, which is dated back to the Roman age.
There is an ancient road made of limestone between the dry stream, which can be reached following the southwest sides of the small lowland Cirali formed by Ulupinar stream and Khimaira. The road, which is partly ruined and destroyed, can be followed till Khimaira.
The myth told by Homeros for the first time for Khimaira, which is called “the immortal flame of Lycia”, tells the struggle between Bellerophontes and the monster called Khimaira.
According to the myth, Bellerophontes is the son of Glaukos, who fought for the Anatolians in Troy. The word Bellerophontes means “the one who killed Belleros”; however it is not known who Belleros is.
Strong and handsome Bellerophontes kills Belleros accidentally and is worried very much for this. He then goes to Argos, where he is slandered because he does not accept the immoral suggestions of the king’s wife Anteia. The king of Argos sends him to the king of Lycia, who is his father-in-law and demands his execution. The king of Lycia does not touch this brave lad, who he welcomed with ceremonies, in accordance with the rules of hospitality; instead he orders him some works with high risk of death to get rid of Bellerophontes. One of these tasks is to kill the monster called Khimaira. Even facing Khimaira, whose front part is a lion, middle part is a goat and back part is a snake and which blows flames from its mouth, means death.
Bellerophontes undertakes this fatal task and leaves the Lycian capital Xanthos. He stops for a rest by a spring (where today Akdag stands) and falls asleep. Goddess Athena comes to him in his dream. The goddess tells him that, if he bridles the winged horse Pegasus, which comes to the spring for drinking water, with the golden bit he will find when he wakes up, Pegasus will obey him and he can only overcome Khimaira with the help of Pegasus.
Bellerophontes finds the golden bit when he wakes up and hides behind a bush immediately. In the afternoon, he sees Pegasus landing and drinking water from the spring. He suddenly catches the ear of the horse and bridles it with the golden bit. Then Pegasus begins to obey him. Bellerophontes gets on the horse and comes to the land of Khimaira, today’s Yanartas. When Khimaira sees them, it throws flames with fury, but they escape with a smart move of Pegasus. Then Bellerophontes begins to throw arrows and spears to the monster. Khimaira is wounded but it still resists.
Bellerophontes throws his last spear from a closer distance and so strongly that the monster goes very deep under the earth. It is buried, but the flames from its mouth does not extinguish. From then on, for thousands of years, the flames from Khimaira's mouth can be seen at Yanartas (meaning burning stone), which is very suitably named by the local people.
From:Dictionary of Mythology, Erhat Azra, Remzi Publications, Istanbul, 1993.