History of Olympos

Olympos is believed to be a pre-Greek word for "mountain"; over 20 peaks bore the name and in many cases gave it the adjacent town or city. The most famous is the Thessalian peak in North East Greece, home of the Greek gods. The ancient city therefore takes its name from Tahtali dag (wooden mountain) an ancient Mt.Olympos situated 10 km to the north, with the eternal flames still burning in it's foothills.

Olympos was one of the main cities in the ancient region of Lycia, forming part of the Lycian confederacy. The foundations of the city date back to the early Hellenistic period (circa 300 BC). Alexandra the Great wintered in Phaselis, a neighbouring city in the early stages of his conquest of the ancient world.

Olympos was first mentioned in historical records in 78 BC when the Roman Governor in Cilcilia, Servilius Vatia defeated the chief pirate Zenicetes in a naval battle. Zenicetes had made Olympos his stronghold terrorizing the coastline from the hidden havens of Porto Ceneviz and Sazak. The city was then declared "ager publicus". Roman property to be given sold or leased to private individuals.

It was said the pirates used to make strange sacrifices and celebrate secret rites to the cult of Mithras. Mithras was the Persian god of pure spirit & light in the system of Zoroaster, which became immensely popular throughout the eastern world.

In 43 AD Lycia was brought into the Roman Empire and festivals were held in honour of the god Hephaistos, the principal deity of the city. Emperor Hadrian also visited the city in 130 AD.

Olympos became the seat of a bishop during the Christianization of the Roman Empire, but from the third century onwards renewed attacks from pirates brought the city into a slow decline and a gradual loss of the cities importance.

There was a brief revival in the 11th and 12th Centuries by the Genoese, Venetians and the Knights of Rhodes who rebuilt the city for use as a trading post during the crusades. The city seems to have been abandoned some time during the 15th Century when the Ottoman Navy established its mastery over the Eastern Mediterranean.

Legend & Myth: Yanartas - Flames

The Yanatas burning stone is situated 250m above sea level in the foothills below Tahtali Dag (wooden mountain). At present there are about 20 vents of flames in an open rocky area set in the middle of forest. As early as 4th century BC ancient authors mention the mysterious flames. The ruins set in front of the flames are of a Byzantine church, not much remains of the original sanctuary dedicated to Hephaestus. Analysis has reported a percentage of methane gas combusting from the vents, for optimum effect they are best viewed at night but don't forget to bring a torch!

Legend & Myth: Bellerophon - Chimera

The Yanartas is connected with the myth of Bellerophon & the Chimera. "Bellerophon - Prince of Corinth" was sent to "Iobates - King of Lycia", by "Proitos - King of Argos" after alleged violations with Proitos's wife Stentorian, with a secret message to have him killed. Iobates set Bellerophon the task of killing the Chimera, a fire breathing creature who's monstrous body was a made up of the head of a lion, goats torso and serpents tail.

Being in favour with the gods, Athena aided Bellerophon in harnessing Pegasus the winged horse. Armed with a spear of lead he lanced the Chimera in the mouth, the lead turned molten and the mythical monster suffocated to death. Iobates then ordered him to fight the Solymi (Termessians), a fierce tribe of warriors and then the Amazons. Succeeding he returned triumphantly even after being ambushed by the bravest Lycian warriors. Iobates decided to honour him and gave one of his daughters in marriage along with half his kingdom.

Other versions tell of Bellerophon's attempt to fly to "heaven" and being bucked off by Pegasus at the gates and falling back to earth, wandering alone and being hated by the gods.

Olympos Today

Olympos forms part of the Olympos Bey Daglari National Park situated on Turkey's southern coastline in the province of Antalya. Nestled under the western fingers of the Taurus Mountains, snow clad peaks (winter) give way to cedar and pine forest sweeping down to the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Olympos is under conservation laws protecting the area from the development of mass tourism, making it unique as a natural paradise for everyone to enjoy. The environment is home to many indigenous plants and an abundance of wildlife. The last conqueror of the ancient city was, and still is the nature that can be seen today. To walk around the ruins is a wondrous exploration where ancient civilizations mingle with the aromatic smells of the bay and pine trees. The spectacular beach is not just home to many a sun worshipper, during dreamy summer nights the loggerhead turtle returns to her natal beach to nest before returning to her graceful undersea world.


Olympos Climbing Packages

Zest Travel, Olympos Turkey Kekova Travel