Phaselis, the Roman Ruins by the Seaside

Remains of one of the smaller baths. The pillars raised the floor so hot air from a nearby furnace could heat the floor (and water) from below

During our visit to Turkey we rented a car in Antalya and visited a number of ancient ruins in the surrounding region including Perga, Aspendos, Termessos and Side. Each one was unique in its own way, and our trip to Phaselis was no different.

Various ancient sites around Antalya

First settled in 700 BC by the Rhodians, Phaselis grew to prominence due to its strategic location on an isthmus separating two harbours. Eventually it became the most important harbour city of eastern Lycia and an important centre of commerce between Greece, Asia, Egypt, and Phoenicia, It was successively conquered by the Persians, the Athenians and the Macedonians under Alexander the Great. Although it was eventually absorbed into the Roman Empire, Phaselis remained under constant threat of attack from pirates.

Just before we arrived at the parking area we passed trough a desolate stretch of road along with a some ruins of the outer walls of the city. We stopped at a sign that explained what had happened. In January of 2019 (9 months earlier) a devastating tornado went through the area and destroyed 1600 trees.

After a short distance we arrived at the main ruins of Phaselis. Fortunately the trees here had been spared the devastation that happened close by. The parking lot is very close to the main part of the ruins, making Phaselis an easy site to access once you get there. There was a simple map posted along with an explanation of the major sites.

According to the sign near the entrance, it was rumoured that the lance of Achilles was exhibited at a temple to Athena in the city at one point; unfortunately, neither the lance nor the temple have been located yet.

Before we entered the main ruins we walked around the north and central harbour, located close to each other.

The ruins here went right up to the water
The calm central harbour. It felt more like a picnic spot

There was a single bench at the central harbour, a great spot to sit and contemplate the centuries of activity here. The water wasn’t too cold and I would have gone in had I brought swim trunks. Kim was more than happy not to have the option.

Very close to the harbour was the remains of the aqueduct system. From there is was a short distance to a 24 metre wide street connected the two main harbours of Phaselis. Most of the structures in this main part of the town date from the second century BC. and include the ruins of shops and storehouses on both the sides of the street

The main street

Every site we visited around Antalya had the ruins of a theatre and this was no exception. I suppose their solid design allowed them to survive the centuries. The one at Phaselis was a smaller one, but impressive nonetheless.

The theatre was situated up a short hill so it also afforded a view of the surrounding ruins.

From the theatre we went back down towards the harbour. We passed a few agoras (meeting places) along the way.

Approaching the south harbour
Hadrian’s Gate was at the entrance from the south harbour. It was the main entry point for sailors and cargo entering the city.
Once the site of ancient trading ships entering the harbour

Reaching the south harbour was a fitting end to the day, as the best views were found here. The surrounding hills and mountains provided a beautiful backdrop for the gentle waves of the Mediterranean.

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