Living in the city of Antalya is like being in paradise. We’ve enjoyed the beaches, museums, shopping, restaurants, and most of all, the people. Today we joined our friends, Dennis, Jenny, and Ali to explore a nearby attraction, the Chimaera (Yanartas), along the Lycian Way trail in Cirali and Olympos Beach.
Lunch In Cirali At Yoruk Café and Restaurant
As we approached Cirali, we decided to enjoy lunch at Yoruk Café and Restaurant. Since the country had been closed due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 virus, the restaurant workers were happy to see us. We ordered pide (which is similar to a pizza), lahmacun (mincemeat on bread), gozleme (spinach bread) with mezza, and a nice refreshing yogurt drink called ayran. The meal was delicious and it was so relaxing to be sitting outside enjoying great friends, fabulous food, and enriching fellowship.
Cirali Mountains to See the Chimaera
The drive from Antalya to Cirali is about 1 hour 25 minutes along D400. This drive curves around steep cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. If you are counting on street signs to lead you to the park, you might want to reconsider. We were fortunate to have friends with us that had traveled this route before and were familiar with the small backroads leading to the Chimaera.
After paying 9 Turkish Lira per person to enter the park, we collected our backpacks filled with camera gear, sunglasses, plenty of water, and off we went. Before we began our climb up the very rocky trail, we stopped to read about the Legend of Chimaera.
The Greek Myth of the Chimaera
According to Greek Mythology, the Chimaera was a hybrid fire-breathing monster composed of the anatomy of a lion, goat, and snake. Chimera was one of the offspring of Typhon and Echidna and a sibling to the monsters Cerberus and the Lernaean Hydra. It has the body and head of a lion, the head of a goat protruding from its back, and a snake’s head located at the end of the tail.
The Lycian King sent a young boy named Bellerophontes to fight with the fire-breathing monster. Bellerophontes went to the fight riding his winged horse named Pegasus. The Chimaera reared back for an attack, but before it could strike Bellerophontes plunged his spear into the Chimera, burying the beast deep into the ground. The Chimaera continues to breathe fire to this day, which is believed to be the eternal flames coming out of the mountain.
Hiking to the Flames of Chimaera
From the entrance of the park to the Chimaera it’s a little over 1 km (or about 1200 steps) along the slightly curved and rocky pathway. This climb will require you to be in somewhat good physical condition because the steps get taller and the air gets thinner as you get closer to the top. Also, a good pair of hiking boots or sneakers are a must-have. Sandals or flip flops are not suitable for this hike and would be dangerous on the way down.
As we made our way up the mountain, we stopped a few times to take a break and enjoy the beautiful scenery. This trail is also a part of the Lycian Way Trails.
As we reached the Chimaera flames, we came upon the ruins of a temple to Hephaistos, the Greek God of fire, metallurgy, and crafts, who served as a blacksmith to the Gods. We walked through the ruins admiring the craftsmanship of the structure and enjoying the view of the coastline from the mountainside.
The Yanartas (Chimaera) flames are burning a sort of methane gas that has been venting from the earth for thousands of years. Pockets of flames are seen scattered all over the slope. In ancient times, sailors voyaging down the Mediterranean coast used the bright light from the flames to guide them during the night. Although we did not stay after dark, we were told the most dramatic time to visit is after dusk.
After taking in both the scenery around us and the view of the valley leading to the coastline below, we were ready to head back down to Olympos Beach and relax.
Relax on Olympos Beach
I love beautiful beaches and this one did not disappoint. Surrounded by forests, looming mountains, and dotted with yachts floating in the water, this beach looked like something out of a magazine. As you step out of your car all you can say is “wow!”
After laying out our blankets on the beach it was time to test the water. At first, I was reluctant to swim because it was a bit cold for my liking, but with my friend’s encouragement, I dove right in. The beach is a combination of sand and rock so you’ll need water shoes to walk on the beach or in the water. If cold water bothers you, I recommend bringing a wet suit like my friend Jenny did because you must experience the beautiful turquoise water of the Mediterranean.
I could not get over how clear the water was there. I saw so many fish swimming around me and could see all the way to the rocks on the seafloor. Along the shore are several restaurants as well as a kiosk to rent beach chairs and/or umbrellas. We brought our own drinks and snacks and laid down to enjoy the cool breeze, bright sunshine, and stunning mountain cliffs that surrounded the beach.
After a very pleasant swim, we decided to take a walk towards the ruins of Olympos. Here you will see massive cliffs and may catch a glimpse of people jumping off them into the water. Along the way, Jenny and I admired the beautiful rocks on the beach and collected a few for our rock collections back home.