THE ANCIENT CITY OF OLYMPOS
Olympus is another harbor city after Phaselis, on the southern coasts of Antalya. Without knowing the foundation period, Olympus, which was named on Lycian League coins minted in 167-168 BC, was one of the 6 cities which had three votes in the league. It was representing the east of the Lycia in the League. The remains of the city that survived until the present day is from the Hellenistic, Roman, and East Roman (Byzantian) Periods.
The Harbor of Olympus was known as a pirate lair, in history. The head of Cilician pirates, Zenicetes, used the city as a base camp. Thus, “Mitras Cult”, which is an eastern-based creator Light God cult, was settled in the city. The domination of pirates in the city continued until 67 BC. The exact Roman domination, which was started in 43 AD, was a starting point of a new bright era. A lot of buildings which are renovated or built, the celebrations dedicated to Hammersmith God Hephaistos (Vulcano), and the visit of Emperor Hadrian (130 AD) were the coloring pages of the Roman Period of the history of the city. In the Early Christianity Period, the city maintained its importance, and the bishop of the city, Bishop Methodius, was the most popular person. Despite the attacks of pirates on the city starting from the 4th century BC, it is understood that Olympus had attended to the consuls of Ephesus and İstanbul, in the 5th century BC.
Olympus, which started to lose its significance in Late Christianity Period, became a base for Venezian and Genoese merchants but this activity ended with the Ottoman Empire’s naval hegemony, which started in the 16th century. The remains of Olympus that survived until the present day are stated on two sides and the mouth of a river, which is flowing to the sea from east to west direction. The river bed, which was dividing the city into two parts in the ancient period, was environed inside a canal to be used as a pier and both sides were connected with a bridge. One of this bridge’s abutments is still well protected. On the southern riverside, the polygonal masonry wall of the Hellenistic Period with Roman and East Roman (Byzantian) Periods’ renovations near it, can be seen.
In an area close to the river mouth, the remaining of buildings from late periods are located at the small and vertical acropolis. The Hellenistic-based Roman renovated small theater, settled on the southern side of the river, is highly devastated. The other visible building of the city is the temple gate, which is located 150 meters away from the west of the river mouth. Due to the excavated building components, it is understood that it is a small temple dedicated to Roman Empire Marcus Aurelius (172-173 AD).
The most interesting one of the remainings is the “Captain Eudomus Sarcophagus”, which is unearthed by the excavations that were conducted by the Museum of Antalya. The sarcophagus, located in a cavern near the mouth of the river, is so important because of giving the name of the captain in its dedication inscription and gives the shape of his ship on the longer side of it.
On the east of Olympus, the Çıralı settlement is located which is famous for its beach, a place for Caretta caretta to deposit eggs which is 300 meters away from the seaside with the seashore dune which has plenty of plants living on it. On the south slope of the ridge called Yanartaş (Ancient Chimaera), which is located a few kilometers southwest of the city, there is a permanently rising flame. This natural event, which is a pretty impressive view, especially at night, is nothing but the underground coal gas, cropping out for thousands of years. However, this flame is identified with the monster called Chimaera, which is living in Lycia and spraying fire while breathing. In the area, which became a cult center of Hammersmith God Hephaistos, the ancient holy road and the foundations of some dedicated buildings around the flame, can be seen.