Olympos

In order to reach Olympos from the Antalya-Finike Highway, you need to turn off at the Ulupinar Road, where there is a signpost which indicates the way to the ruins. This narrow road, which is surrounded by abundant natural beauty, descends all the way down to the shores of Olympos. To reach the ruins from the parking lot, cross the stream and after walking along the wide beach for some time, you will reach the banks of the stream which runs through Olympos. The footpath running along the banks leads up to the ruins. If by chance you have the time and have got your swimsuit handy, you shouldnít pass up the opportunity to go for a dip in the deep blue sea.

Olympos was established in the Hellenistic Age. In 100 B.C., it became one of the six principal members of the Lycian League which were entitled to three votes. Coinage was struck here in the 2nd century B.C., whereby it became a place frequented by pirates, who were lead often by Zenicetes, during the 1St century B.C. This fearless pirate was finally defeated in 78 B.C. by the Roman Governor of Lycia, Publius Servilius Isaurieus, in an open-sea battle, after which Olympos and the surrounding area was combined to become a Roman province. During the Roman Period, the area became quite famous with the Haphaistos Cult and their God of the Blacksmith, whereby they worshipped at the site of the natural gas that spewed frrom the ground at nearby «irali.

During the 2nd century A.D., the Lycian philanthropist, Opramoas from Rhodiapolis, made lavish gifts of money to Olympos to have many new buildings erected and old ones repaired. Thus, Olympos grew extremely prosperous during this century, but it was in the 3rd century when the pirates returned to annoy Olympos. The pirate raids were the reason this rich and flourishing city became impoverished overnight and lost its importance. From this point on, the city continued its existence as an insignificant small town.

Although the city was rejuvenated during the Middle Ages when the Venetians, the Genoese and the Knights of Rhodes were all in their heyday. However, with the onslaught of supreme Ottoman fleets, the cityís significance had waned irreparably to the point that it was abandoned completely during the 15th century.

Olympos was spread out over both sides of the stream that passed through it. Letís hike along the banks of the stream and wander about Olympos. The high hill, which can be seen from the shoreline, and on which a number of tombs are situated, is the acropolis of Olympos. As for the edifice remnants on the hill, they belong to walls which were erected in the manner of a tower during the Middle Ages. When you look from the hilltop, you can take in a magnificent view of the stream, which looks oddly reminiscent of Venice. The stream was turned into a canal with walls that were built along the banks using a polygonal technique, whereas one can tell from remaining traces that there was once a bridge that brought both sides together.

From the shoreline, the first thing we see as we enter the city beneath the acropolis are two tomb chambers. The tombs belong to the 2nd century AD., but were used for a second time in the 5th century. It wasnít until recently that the ruins behind the acropolis walls, which were turned into a tower in the Middle Ages, were brought to light. Through the excavation work of the Antalya Museum, a number of tombs were uncovered. We donít have much to go on about the single sarcophagus that rests in the E quadrant of the acropolis. Next to this is a burial chamber dating back to the 5th century AD., which contains two sarcophagi that also have mosaics embedded in the floor of a soldier and a lion. The sarcophagus which faces E was that of an Olympian named Marcus Aurelius Zosimas, whereas the one next to it belonged to the uncle of Zosimas, Captain Eudemos. On top of the captainís sarcophagus is a ship in relief along with an inscription that tells of the voyages made by Captain Eudemos to the Marmara and Black Seas. There is also a very emotional poem on the left side of this inscription, which is framed.

By moving past these tombs a little bit, letís turn down a narrow road that goes by the right side of the second spring. There are a few ruins located on this side of the stream. In this part, a monument tomb with two sarcophagi can be seen. Just a bit further ahead is another tomb. If we walk past these tombs towards the W, weíll reach the bishopís house. This structure. which has been determined to be the house of the bishop, was built during the 5th century, whereas we are able to ascertain that the ground floor remains submerged under a meter of water as a result of earthquakes that struck in the 1 5th century. It is also understood that both floors of this two-story structure were decorated with mosaics. Just past the bishopís house is a temple that is known from an inscription next to the gate to have been erected during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Only the gate of this temple, of which it is unknown which god or goddess it was built to honor, survives to this today. This temple, with its in-antis plan and Ionian order, lies in a heap of rubble. Letís move away from the trees that cover the ruins back towards the main avenue of Olympos which runs parallel to the stream. As was previously mentioned, there used to be a bridge to get from one side to the other. One can still see the pylon holes where the bridge once stood.

On the S side of the stream, opposite the spot where the bridge was, are the remains of the city bath which once had windows. To get to this side of Olympos, you can cross the stream by stepping over some wide stones. It is here that you will encounter the theater of Olympos, which is not easy to enter as there is quite a bit of underbrush in the way. The vaulted galleries as well as pieces of decorated doors and niches that you see spread over the surrounding area and piled up in the orchestra indicate that the theater was constructed in the classical Roman-style. A large Byzantine basilica and a wall, both of which lie between the theater and the sea, along with the bath on the banks of the stream, all combine to formulate one spectacular view. In a field between these structures and the stream lies the ruins of another edifice, which is surrounded with columns on three sides. From what we can gather, the wide space formed in the center was the cityís agora and gymnasium.

In moving from the theater towards the W, one can see remnants of a two-story structure on the other side of the stream which dates to the Byzantine Period. After you go over a ramp which was constructed on polygonal stone, you will come across the city necropolis on the hill to the W. Despite the fact that various types of tombs can be seen near the city, the tombs located at higher elevations are all of the same monotonous type. There are inscriptions over door lintels of the vaulted tombs, which were chipped from blocks of marble.