Phaselis is one of the most picturesque ancient cities in Turkey.
Located between two Antalya regions (Bey Mountains and the forest of Olympos National Park) in Tekirova, the east coast’s once well-known ports with three harbors is Phaselis. While exploring the ancient ruins of Phaselis, one can enjoy the Mediterranean luxurious turquoise waters. Here you will see some of the extravagant yachts anchored in the bay.
Let us first understand the history of Phaselis as we take you on a journey through the ancient city.
Colonists of the Rhodes founded Phaselis in the 7th century. Although the city changed hands many times after Alexander the Great, it wasn’t until the Romans’ arrival, who began the reconstruction, did prosperity come back and lasted for the next 300 years. During the 5th and 6th century it was ruled by the Byzantines. Throughout the 7th and 8th centuries, it prospered following the Arab invasions. The Seljuks sieged the port in 1158 but followed by terrible earthquakes making the port inoperable. The city was abandoned in the 13th century and never came back to life until archeologists discovered the ruins and made it a Turkey destination.
Next, let’s examine the remains of the ancient city as we walk through structures still standing today.
Much of the ancient city is still buried in the thick brush and is waiting to be discovered. The town once spread out across three harbors, each connected by one main street. Follow me as I take you through the city of Phaselis:
North Harbor: Although most ruins in this area are destroyed, a few standing walls can still be seen. Two small islets were joined to the mainland by a causeway, and a harbor enlarged enough to accommodate an ancient naval base. Depending on the wind, this area of the bay can be choppy.
Aqueducts: were built to create waterways to connect the north to the south end of the harbor near the Central (also known as the Battle) Harbor.
Liman Caddesi (Harbor Street): Ancient paved street ran from the central harbor to the Hadrian Gate (South Harbor). The main street was once lined with statues, shops, and public buildings. This street also served as a stadium.
Bath House: On the west side of the street where bathhouses for public bathing.
Agora: West of the bath complex was a square-shaped agora of Hadrian.
Domitian Agora: Shopping center dedicated to Domitianus, due to the dedication inscription on its entrance
Hadrian Gate: Dedicated to Emperor Hadrian, built-in 131 CE, in honor of his visit.
Theatre: Built in the 2nd century holding up to 2,000 spectators. The gates at the ground level suggest that gladiator or wild animal fights took place. The backdrop of the theatre is the beautiful mountains.
Nymphaeum: Built north of the theatre, built between the 3rd-4th century. Nymphaeum is a monumental fountain.
Now, it is time to relax! Phaselis offers three different beaches. Pick your spot and enjoy your day at the beach.
Along the coast of Olympos Beydağlan National Park are three bays. The first bay area is the North Harbor. As you enter this area, you will see an ancient wall along the beach. The beach is a pebbly/sandy surface, a great place to picnic. If you drive, you can park your car near this beach. The water, depending on the wind, can be choppy at times.
Behind the aqueducts is another gorgeous beach area called the Central Harbor (also known as Battle Harbor), along the rocky jetties that extend out into the bay. Central Harbor is probably my favorite area as it is a small beach area but has beautiful rocky cliffs surrounding the lagoon. The water tends to be a bit warmer than the other two bays. The shallow water extends out to the large rock shelves—a great place for parents with little children to swim.
Walking through the ancient city, you will see signs for the “beach,” which will lead you to the South Harbor. This is the biggest bay area with many places to picnic under trees while enjoying a day in the water. If you are interested in boating, South Harbor is an excellent location to anchor. The coastline is mostly a dark sandy beach with areas of a rocky edge. This area tends to be the most crowded due to access to showers, restrooms, and changing cabins.
No matter which beach you choose to spend the day swimming or relaxing in the sun, you will not be disappointed. All the beaches are met by clear deep blue waters of the Mediterranean. Some areas will require water shoes. Bring snorkel gear to see the fish nibbling on plants near the rocky edges of the coastline.
There are no sun loungers and umbrellas at any of the beaches in Phaselis Bay. However, the shades of the trees just behind the beaches provide adequate protection from the sun. Make sure to bring chairs, a blanket, and a picnic basket, but no BBQ pits, please, as they are not allowed.
The museum site is an enormous territory full of ruins and much still to be discovered. Hiking from the entrance gate is a great way to explore much of the area before you reach the bay. Hiking at the top of the acropolis is possible but beware as it is thick with shrubbery. Be careful not to misstep as many cisterns unmarked and scattered about the land. If you enjoy climbing, venture to the cliff’s top overlooking the south harbor for a spectacular view.
Today was fantastic! After wandering through the ancient city, we spread out our blanket along the water to enjoy the warm sea breeze while snacking on grapes, cheese, and crackers while reading a good book.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.
Inshallah (God willing!)
- Getting There: Driving – Located off of main road D400, it is 58 km from Antalya, 14 km from Kemer, or 18 km from Olympos. The nearest city is Tekirova, which is about 5 km.
- Minibuses – for Kemer, Phaselis, Olympos and Cirali, depart Antalya’s Otogar or from the bus stop on Dumlupinar Bulvari (D400) near the Antalya Aquarium.
- Visiting Hours: Summer 8:30 -19:30 (15 April -2 Oct.); Winter 8:30 – 17:30 (Oct. 3 – April 14); Holidays – close at noon
- Cost: 20 TL per person, MuzeKart get in for free
- Small Café: Located near the aqueduct is a place to buy snacks.