OLYMPOS & CIRALI

The rambling ruins of ancient Olympos are scattered beside the Ulupınar stream and set inside a deeply shaded valley that runs directly to the sea.  Originally settled circa 300 BCE, the city at Olympos went into decline during the first century BCE, perhaps due to pirate raids.  The arrival of the Romans at the end of the first century CE brought about the city's rejuvenation, as its citizens amassed considerable wealth due to the settlement’s strategic commercial position.  The Roman emperor, Hadrian (117-138 CE), adorned the city with theaters and an aqueduct.  Once again, pirate attacks during the third century caused the city's importance to wane.  In medieval times, both the Venetians and Genoese built fortresses along the coast, but even these were finally abandoned by the fifteenth century.  The ruins visible today belong mostly to the late Roman and early Byzantine periods.

Be sure to visit the eternal flames of the Chimera as well, only eight kilometers from Olympos.  Flames have continually shot forth from holes in the mountain since ancient times.  Chimaera was another ancient Lycian city, and this magical wonder has a long mythological history.  What explains such spectacularly shooting flames?  Scientists speculate that natural gas seeps through cracks in the earth and ignites, although they remain unsure of the specific nature of the gases.  To truly appreciate Chimaera, it is best to visit the area in the evening; the effects are most impressive in darkness.

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