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Çıralı, Antalya, Turkiye

Çıralı, TurkiyeInterested in a rather quirky seaside town with history, personality and natural beauty, no need to look further than Çıralı. It is an agricultural village in the southwest part of Turkiye.

It is located in the ancient Lycia region of Anatolia and sits right on the Mediterranean Sea. Çıralı has not yet succumbed to the usual mass tourism so it is a wonderful place to enjoy the comfort of hotels, family-run guest houses and quirky treehouse accomodations near the beach.

It's a bit off the beaten path, but for most that is a plus. My brother built one of the first pansyons there back in the 1990's when the ruins of Olympos were still mostly hidden in the overgrowth at the far end of the beach.

The Turkish government had not yet begun any archeological work on the site yet and my brother and his son used to wander through the untouched ruins.

One of the best things about Çıralı is that it is a little piece of paradise that hasn’t been touched by heavy tourism. Nestled among the lush mountainous landscape is a pristine 2 mile stretch of pebbled beach.

The waters are crystal clear and it is a perfect place to kick back and relax for the day. There are a variety of restaurants and cafes close by and even some sun loungers to rent for the day.

If you take a walk along Cirali Beach it is here that you will find the ancient city of Olympos. Access to Olympos can be gained either from the direction of the beach or from the road which is about a 7-mile drive from D-400 to the north entrance.

Çıralı, TurkiyeOlympos was one of the six leading Lycian League cities and although the exact date is unclear, it is known to be founded during the Hellenistic period. It had a tumultuous past as its position on the coastline left the city vulnerable to attacks from pirates.

It is said that pirates disrupted coastal shipping and kidnapped residents for ransom or to sell into slavery. In 78 BC the Roman governor of Cilicia along with the young Julius Caesar attacked the pirates and besieged Olympos.

Eventually, the Lycian League was absorbed into the Roman Empire and Olympos fell under their jurisdiction before being abandoned during the 15th century.

Because of the dense forest and overgrowth, exploring Olympos initially was difficult. Although now there are boards explaining the ruins, finding the ruins among the brush truly was a bit of a challenge.

A few of the highlights of Olympos are the necropolis that contains chamber tombs cut into the rock, the sarcophagus of Captain Eudoemos and the Roman theater with its elaborate entrance.

Olympos is open during the summer season from 8am to 7pm and during the winter until 5pm. There is an entrance fee, but it is definitely worth every penny. Because of the uneven grounds it is suggested to wear proper footwear.

Çıralı, TurkiyeOnly a 20-minute drive north of Çıralı, Turkey is another ancient city named Phaselis. It is a little bit bigger and perhaps a little more well-preserved than Olympus. It is situated on a peninsula surrounded by three bays and protected within the grounds of an official National Park.

This ancient city was founded by the Rhodians around 700 BC. Because of its location separating two harbors, it became the most important city in Western Lycia but did not belong to the Lycian League.

The city was captured by the Persians after they conquered Asia Minor and was later captured by Alexander the Great. After the death of Alexander the Great, the city belonged to Egypt but after 160 BC it was absorbed into the Lycian confederacy under Roman rule.

The ruins have been mostly cleared of excess brush and overgrowth so you can walk along the harbor and check out the Roman baths, the exquisite theater and the aqueducts, among other ruins remaining.

You will be able to see how the canals were carefully planned and built around the Grand Harbor Street and from there you will be dazzled by the stunning views of the turquoise blue sea.

Just like Olympos, the ruins are surrounded by the sea which means that you should definitely bring your swimwear and take a dip in the ocean and relax on one of the beaches.

For those feeling adventurous - they might even attempt jumping off one of the ancient harbor walls.

Çıralı, TurkiyeThere are no changing facilities at the beach and food and water is not available there either.

Phaselis is open during the summer months from 8am to 7pm and during the winter until 5pm. The entrance fee which will cover your entrance into the National Park.

Yanartaş (Eternal Flames of Chimaera) are a most memorable experience of discovering the Eternal Flames of Chimaera. The flames of Chimaera have been burning for literally thousands of years and are a rare and natural phenomenon in the mountains of Cirali.

Known in Turkish as Yanartaş, natural gas emerges from cracks from the earth and when it comes in contact with the air it catches fire immediately.

The site itself inspired the Greek myth of Chimaera, where a creature that breathed fire had a body of a lion, a goat, and a snake. It is believed that throughout history the flames were so vibrant that they served as a guide for those at sea.

To get up to the eternal flames you must climb up a rocky mountain side. Steps and handrails have been erected in some places but don’t be fooled as the surface can become both slippery when wet and has loose rocks.

To get the most out of the experience it is best to see the flames after sundown. Ii is suggested that one hikes up the mountain at dusk and carefully come down after the sun has set. Definitely bring proper footwear and a flashlight if you are heading up at night.

Çıralı, TurkiyeAbout 40 minutes or 15 miles distant from Çıralı, Turkey is the towering Tahtalı Dağı Mountain (also known as Mount Olympus). Located in the middle of Beydağları Coastal National Park.

The massive mountain stands at nearly 8000 feet and can be ascended by either foot or cable car all year round. The aerial tramway is located in the center of the Beydağları National Park and is the biggest cable car in Europe.

While you are on the cable car you will see sweeping panoramic views of the mountain ranges surrounding you as well as the crystal clear water of the sea at the bottom.

At its summit, there is a restaurant as well as plenty of places to sit and take in the amazing 360-degree view. There is the opportunity to purchase one-way tickets if you would prefer to hike half of the way.

If you are interested in hiking up Mount Olympus the starting point is the small town of Beycik. This 4 to 6-hour hike is said to be rather challenging as it is rocky and remote.

The elevation will go up to about 4500 feet and depending on the climate you could come across snowy patches. The hiking trail itself is well-marked but there are no places to stop for water or food along the way.

The nearest airport is the Antalya International Airport, which is about 50 miles away and about an hour and a half drive from Çıralı.

Çıralı, TurkiyeThere are several flights that leave from Istanbul daily so finding a cheap flight can be relatively easy. Flights from Istanbul take less than an hour and a half and the distance is 287 miles.

There are also buses that run everywhere across the country which are comfortable and clean. Once in Antalya you can either take a bus, rent a car or hire a taxi to Çıralı.

If you are renting a car, the drive is simple as it is right along the coast on Highway D400. It should take about 1 and a half hours to get to Çıralı.

Taking a bus is definitely the cheaper option but a little bit more convoluted. At the Antalya Bus Terminal catch the bus that goes to either Kumluca, Finike, Demre or Kaş and tell the driver that you would like to get off at the Çıralı intersection.

Once you get there, you will find minibusses and taxis available to take you down to the seaside town which is about a 10-minute drive.

Olympos is an ancient Lycian city and its ruins lie on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, in the borders of Antalya province. It was presumably taking its name from nearby Mount Olympos at 2,375 meters or 7,792 feet in height - one of over twenty mountains with the name Olympos (Olympus) in the world.

The Lycians were an ancient people who inhabited the area of present-day Turkey between the bays of Antalya and Fethiye, known as “Lycia”, a compact, mountainous territory.

Çıralı, TurkiyeThe ancient Greeks knew and admired the Lycians, for the Lycians had solved a problem that had confounded the ancient world: how to reconcile free government in the city-state with the needs of a larger political unity. The Lycian League was the first example of a federation in history.

According to the ancient Greek historian Strabo, the league comprised some 23 known city-states as members. The Roman consul Lucius Licinius Murena, added three more in 81 BC.

Strabo also identified the major cities of the League; that is, the three-vote cities, as Xanthos, Patara, Pinara, Olympos, Myra, and Tlos, with Patara as the capital.

According to Herodotus, the Lycians originally came from Crete and were the followers of Sarpedon. They were expelled by Minos and ultimately settled in territories belonging to the Solymoi (or Milyans) of Milyas in Asia Minor.

The Lycians were originally known as Termilae before being named after Lycus who was the son of Pandion. Their customs are partly from Crete and partly from Caria.

Herodotus mentions a particular custom where the Lycians name themselves after their mothers instead of their fathers. Strabo, on the other hand, mentions “Trojan Lycians” and suspects them to be different from the Termilae already mentioned by Herodotus.

The Lycians were also one of the few non-Hellenistic nations of antiquity that could not be called “barbarians”. They were speakers of the Luwian language group.

Çıralı, TurkiyeThe Lycians were most likely in origin an Anatolian people since they spoke their own Indo-European language closely related to Luwian and Hittite.

As mentioned above, Olympos became one of the six leading cities of the Lycian League. 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.

In the 1st century BC, Olympos was invaded and settled by Cilician pirates which 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 honor.

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.

Olympos was a hippie haven until recently. But the completion of a surfaced road from the main highway in summer 2009 means that there are many more people (including families with fussy children, and rowdy and drunk teenagers) heading there compared with only a few in earlier years.

On summer weekends when hordes of day-trippers pour in, Olympos is sadly not much different from any ordinary resort town now. However, when everyone else stops coming in autumn, Olympos is just as beautiful as it used to be.

Çıralı, TurkiyeThe beach at Olympos is known as “Olympos Beach” and is popular with backpackers drawn to its tree-house hostels. The beach was also a nesting place for Caretta-Caretta sea turtles.

Olympos is about 50-60 km south of Antalya. Kumluca to the south and Kemer to the north are the nearest major towns of Olympos.

There are small buses from the Antalya otogar - the main station for intercity buses, as well as buses from Antalya to Kaş, which stop at the junction on the upland section of the main coastal highway of the region, which is about 10 km away from Olympos.

There is a station at the junction with an open-air cafe, which also offers some snacks. From there a dolmuş (minibus), which depart fairly frequently nowadays, can be caught.

There are a lot of treehouses and bungalows. Air conditioning and laundry facilities are available. There are not many mosquitoes, but a lot of flies, and these flies give bites on the skin which is annoying and quite painful. They’re coming after salt, so after any swimming, take a shower as soon as possible.

The current state of both Çıralı and Olympos is much improved. The ruins of Olympos are well organized and easily accessed and Çıralı has become a favorite of both foreign and Turkish tourists.

Çıralı has a more than adequate hotels, hostels, and rentals including the reknown tree-houses. There are an abundance of restaurants, cafes and bars to serve a diversity of visitors. It retains it's 'hippy' charisma but also offers amenities for all types of tourists.

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