SUNRISE AT THE CIRALI BEACH
Kumluca-Antalya / TURKEY
PR2001AAAJ0229 © LEVENT ŞEN
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The former city of Olympos was founded in the Hellenistic period, presumably taking its name from nearby Mount Olympos (Turkish: Tahtalı Dağı, Timber Mountain), one of over twenty mountains with the name Olympos in the Classical world.
From these mountains of the Solymi, according to Homer, the god Poseidon looked out to sea and saw Odysseus sailing away from Calypso’s island, and called up a great storm that wrecked him on the shores of the island of Nausicaa.
The coins of the city of Olympos date back to the 2nd century BC. It was described by Cicero as an ancient city full of riches and works of art. The city became one of the six leading cities of the Lycian League. In the 1st century BC, Olympos was invaded and settled by Cilician pirates. This ended in 78 BC, when the Roman commander Publius Servilius Isauricus, accompanied by the young Julius Caesar, took the city after a victory at sea, and added Olympos to the Roman Empire. The pirate Zenicetes set fire to his own house and perished. The emperor Hadrian visited the city after which it took the name of Hadrianopolis for a period, in his honour.
The chief deity of Olympos was Hephaestus, god of fire and blacksmiths. Near Olympos, located in the neighbouring village of Çıralı and about 200 metres above sea level, the eternal flames called the Chimaera may be seen issuing from the ground. The fuel source for the flames is natural gas, largely methane, seeping through cracks in the earth. The mythical Chimaera – or Chimera – was a monster with the head of a lion, the body of a goat and the tail of a serpent, who roamed these woods and sprouted fire from her mouth.
In the Middle Ages, Venetians, Genoese and Rhodians built two fortresses along the coast, but by the 15th century Olympos had been abandoned. Today the site attracts tourists, not only for the artifacts that can still be found (though fragmentary and widely scattered), but also for its scenic landscapes supporting wild grapevines, flowering oleander, bay trees, figs and pines.