Phaselis

Location: 

GPS coordinates: 36.523611, 30.552222

The ancient site of Phaselis lies 58 km south of Antalya on an isthmus with three pleasant beaches. Phaselis is set in an attractive pine forest, within a national park, surrounded on three sides by the sea.

Phaselis
Phaselis

Historical overview: 

Settlers from nearby Rhodes established a colony in 690 BCE. With three separate natural harbors the city soon became a major trading center. Phaselis was incorporated into the Persian Empire in 546 BCE and then conquered by the Athenians under Cimon in 469 BCE. In the 4th century BCE Persian rule was reestablished and Phaselis was allied with the satrap Mausolus from Halicarnassos.

In 333-334 BCE, during his campaign against the Persians, Alexander the Great and his naval fleet led by his admiral Nearchos was welcomed at Phaselis where he remained for the winter. After the death of Alexander, Phaselis was ruled in turn from Ptolemaic Egypt, Seleucid Syria and Rhodes, until 160 BCE when it was absorbed into the Lycian confederacy under Roman domination.

Pirates under the command of Zenecites overran Phaselis and nearby Olympos in the 1st century BCE until Rome reestablished control in 78 BCE. During the Roman civil wars, Brutus bullied Phaselis into contributing funds. When emperor Hadrian visited the city in 131, Phaselis was adorned with new statues, monuments and buildings in his honor.

Sightseeing: 

The necropolis is located to the north of the site, extending beyond the well-preserved aqueduct along the shoreline of the northern harbor. Phaselis had three natural harbors. One was the northern harbor where two small islets were joined to the mainland by a causeway and a harbor enlarged enough to accommodate an ancient naval base. The second was a small central harbor east of the car park, which was enclosed with a seawall and could be blocked with an 18 m. long chain between towers. Parts of a pier extending 183 m. from the city walls to protect a third harbor to the south can still be seen.

A colonnaded paved ancient street ran 225 m. from the central harbor to the Hadrian Gate to the south lined with 2nd century BCE shops and public buildings. The Roman road enters a square shaped area in the middle and alters direction to conform the topography. Statues once lined the colonnaded street, which also served as a stadium. On the west side of the main street the ruins of a bath-gymnasium complex still contain mosaic fragments. To the south of the bath complex, west of the street is the square-shaped agora of Hadrian, once lined with porticoes and shops.

Ruins of a late Roman church lie to the west in this agora. Further south and west of the street is the agora of Domitian built in 93. Next to the south stands a later period agora connected to the harbor. An inscription confirms that the Hadrian Gate was built in 131 CE in honor of his visit. The 2nd century theatre is located on the west side of the street across from the agora of Hadrian and could hold 2000 spectators. The small gates in the stage building at ground level suggest the theatre was used for gladiator or wild animal fights.

The walled acropolis was above the theatre to the west. North of the theatre lie ruins of a 3-4th century bathhouse, including the brick foundations and heating system, a nymphaeum and an ancient latrine. Nearby the acropolis stood a circular 3rd century BCE temple dedicated to Hermes and Hestia.

Visitor tips: 

The entrance fee to the site of Phaselis is 20 TL. Near the car park at the aqueduct is a small café and tourist shop. Restaurants and hotel accommodation are in nearby Kemer or Çıralı.

Getting there: 

Phaselis is well-signposted from the main road 400 leading from Antalya to Kumluca a few kilometers after passing Kemer. A good road leads to the entrance of the national park with the site where you have to pay the entrance fee.

Image gallery: 

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