Olympos Ancient City – Antalya

Sazak Bay

Olympos Ancient City – Antalya

Olympos Ancient City (Remains of a Turkish bath used at that time)
Olympos Ancient City is one of the most valuable points of the county. It is worth seeing the city which has the impressive remains with the history back to the 2nd century BC.
Olympos, one of the most important coastal towns thousands of years ago, is under the control of Zeus firstly, then pirates and now those who want to have an unusual vacation..










Olympos Ancient City is an important coastal town located within the boundaries of Kumluca county in the west of Antalya and between Kemer and Adrasan. It is assumed that Olympos which is a Lycian city in Antalya took its name from Tahtalı Mountain which is 2375 meters high and located at 16 km north or Moses Mountain. Olympos Ancient City which is 87 km from Antalya is neighboring on Phaselis which is claimed to come from Passala that means ‘sea town’ of Luwian origin according to Bilge Umar and means ‘God save us’ in the Hellenic language and at the same time a coastal town.


Olympos map map

Olympos means ‘paradise on earth’ where the gods lived in Greek mythology and the presence of more than 20 Olympos in Anatolia, on the Aegean and Mediterranean costs, in Greece causes confusion. It is normal that there are many Olympos even if it means ‘Big, great mountain’. Olympos, the house of the Zeus, the king of the gods, is ‘houses of 12 great gods’ and it is said that in fact the gods of Anatolia but much later, those who belong to the Greek Mythology when the Greeks came to the Anatolia and adopted the gods here, in addition to Zeus. These gods are Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Ares, Hermes, Hephaistos, Aphrodite, Apollo, Athena, and Artemis. Apart from these, there are gods who sometimes take part in the 12 Olympos Gods and sometimes do not; Hades, Demeter, Dionysus, Hestia.

Antalya Museum Marcus Aurelius
Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Antalya Museum)
Lycian Money
                                                         Likya’nın sikkesinde Chimera













The history of artworks in Olympos extends from the Roman period to the Lycia starting from Byzantium. Even if the exact date of establishment is unknown, it is believed that it took place in the Lycian coins belonging to II. century BC and connected to the Lycian Union because it is one of the seven cities have the right to vote in the Lycian Union. Most of the remains of the city that reach today is covered with trees and bushes in the forest. Under favor of the excavation works started today, information about Olympos Ancient City in the light of information found, will enlighten history more and more in the future as the silhouette of the Olympos Ancient City slowly emerges. Remains that reached today is usually in the mouth of a river flowing east to west and on both sides separately.

The mouth of river bisecting Olympos Ancient City. There are quite a number of monumental tombs in this area.
Roman gate
The gate of a temple built in the name of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurellis.












Eurodos Tomb
     Tomb of captain Eudros

The river bed bisecting the city was taken into a canal and both sides were used as piers. On the southern coast, the wall built in polygonal shape of Hellenistic period and the part pointing out Roman and Byzantine repairs next to it are seen. Near the mouth of the river, there are building remains in the small and steep acropolis from late periods. Even if a side of the entrance of the Hellenistic based and Roman repaired small theater is preserved, the rest of it is quite in a dilapidated situation. There is a temple gate 150m away from the western part of the mouth of the river and due to statue in front of the door, it was understood that it was made in the name of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurellis (BS 172-173) and it is a few architectural pieces belonging to a small temple in ionic order. As a result of excavations performed in Antalya Museum, the sarcophagus belonging to ‘Captain Eurodos’ was exposed next to the mouth of river, in the cave of the rock. Giving the name of the captain in the emotional poetic sarcophagus and also giving the description of the ship on the long side of the ship relief is a big importance.


Porto Genoese Bay (Antalya)
    Porto Genoese Bay (on the right) and Sazak Bay (on the left) separated by a small piece of land – Antalya










The region which is quite spectacular in terms of sarcophagus tombs is worth seeing in all respects.

When the Olympos trace are examined at the historical records, it coincides the year when a pirate named Zeneteces in Sicilia was defeated in the sea battle in 78 BC. Zeneteces who took control of the surrounding coastline, made Olympos himself the castle by hiding his ships in the secret ports of Porto Genoese and Sazak. After Lycian joined to Roman Empire in the 43rs century AD and the city has predominated by Roman, it was declared as ‘ager publicus’ (Roman property held for sale or leased).

It is understood that pirates perform strange sacrificial ceremonies and secret ceremonies for God Mitres who is commonly believed in most of eastern countries and the god of pure spirit and god of light in Persian mythology.

Olympos has hosted a bishop when the Roman was in the process of Christianization. The population of the city has decreased and the city lost its importance as a result of the continuously pirate attacks to the city since the 3rd century.




Yanartaş Hill

                Yanartaş Hill – Çıralı

There is ‘Yanartaş Hill’ 7km West the Olympos Ancient City, foothills of the Tahtalı Mountain, 250 m above sea level. There are nearly 20 fire chimneys in the forest and open rock field today. Authors are talking about the mystery of this burning stone since the 4th century BC. There are remains of Byzantine church near the place of fire. The oldest structure know in the region is a temple dedicated to Hephaistos and there is very little remain left from this temple nowadays.

Yanar Taş apparently burning over 2000 years in accordance with the historical records, is the place where the Olympic Torch was created in accordance with the Greek mythology. A flame that has never faded since before history on the hill at 300-350 height in the region is still burning today. About this flame, Ionian poet Homeres who is author of Ilyada and Odysseia which are the first examples of Greek emotions and thoughts and it is believed that he had lived in İzmir or Chios Island in the 8th century BC, describes the Bellorophontes myth in his works.

Bellerophontes myth

Hipponoes is a men’s beauty who is ‘created as things of the gods’. He was named ‘Bellerophontes’ which means ‘the person who ate Belleros’, because he accidently killed his brother Belleros while he was hunting. Bellerophontes who left his country because he killed his brother took refuge in Proitas, King of Tipins. The wife of king falls in love with Bellerophontes. But when Bellerophontes did not accept to have a relationship with her, Queen slanders Bellerophontes by saying ‘Die or kill Bellerophontes, Proitos. He wanted to wind me up with his love without my desire’. But Proitos avoids to kill someone who took refuge and sends him to his father-in-law, the Lycian King İobates, with a letter saying ‘Kill the person who brought this letter. He wanted to rape my wife, your daughter’. But İobates reads the letter nine days after welcoming Bellerophontes and he doesn’t want to kill his guest himself. By giving him a mission that will cause his death, he asks to him to kill the monster called Chimera with a lion head, goat body, snake tail and that flames from its mouth and hair.

The Etruscan ( (folk lived between Tiber and Arno rivers) ) Aretimli is a sculptor which is the most beautiful Chimera of its time in 400 BC. Even if Chimera is an Anatolian origin myth, the roots of this myth can also depend on Mesopotamia. That the pirates worship to the Persian origin god Mitres is an important data that should be evaluated in this context.
          350-340 BC Lauvre Museum















Bellerophontes asks the help pf the gods to accomplish this job. The predictor, Polyeidos teaches him to catch and tame the flying horse Pfesos. He takes the ship from the goddess Athena to get him to ride this horse. Thus, Bellerophontes and his winged horse can escape from the flame of Chimera and in this way, he beats the monster. He comes to this monster with his spear in a way, so Chimera that is hit by the spear is buried seven times under the ground and only the tongue of flame can go out to the earth.

Afrodisias, the Roman origin sculpture of Bellerophon, Turkey. Bellerophon was a hero of Lycia who claimed to be the founder of Aphrodisias. He holds the winged horse, Pegasos.














                       Pegausus – versus – cimera
  İobates ve Bellerophontes












The story of Bellerophontes continues. When he beat the monster, Iobates finds other strong competitors for him. He sends him to Solyms with Termessos which is one of the most warrior tribes of the region first and then to the Amazons. Bellerophontes gets stronger by winning these two battles. Then Iobates sends his own soldiers against Bellerophontes. Bellerophontes also wins the battle on the Lycian Plain. Later on, he learns that his daughter slanders Bellerophontes and he gives his daughter to him and shares the management of the country with him.

But Bellerophontes tries to ascend to Olympos which is a mountain of gods with his winged horse to take place among the immortals by relying on his success. Zeus make Bellereophontes to fall of his horse by sending a horsefly to scare Pfesos. The horse stays in the sky and becomes a sign. Bellerophontes falls on the earth and loses his old reputation because he is injured (Ilyada, Chapter VI. 155-221)

In Olympos which is a totally protected area nowadays,


there is a facility that serves the guests, again with the same name and bungalow houses. And the bays where the pirates run wild in the region once, are among the places to be worth seeing, where the guests who come for tourism purposes have a pleased vacation and with the boat trips going along certain routes. Both to have vacation and visit these special and interesting places that enlighten the history of humanity will increase the curiosity and to evaluate a special vacation concept and opportunity that one can save different tastes and memories is also important in terms of understanding the history.

Silvan Güneş

Folklore Researcher & Biographer







Read our article about Perge Antik City