Spending five full days in Kas was one of the best decisions we made during our trip to Greece and Turkey in the summer of 2022. Not only was it a great base for day trips around the region, it also allowed us to get a second chance to visit a place we missed out on during our first visit to Turkey in 2019.
Back then, we rented a car in Antalya and drove east, west and south to the various ruins in the region. We went as far south as Phaeselis, but didn’t reach Olympos as we did a lot of other sites around Antalya. This time we had a second chance to visit coming from the west.
Taking the familiar D400 highway, the drive eastward from Kas took about 2 hours, including the last 20 minutes down from the mountains to the coast. The ride was a bit rough heading down into the valley, and we had to navigate a crowded town before reaching the parking lot at the end of the road.
Next to Phaselis to the north, Olympos was the second most important harbor city in the region. Founded in the Hellenistic Age, the city eventually became one of the six primary members of the Lycian League. Coins were struck there during 2nd and the 1st centuries BC. Then it became a place where pirates, defeated in 78 B.C. by the Roman governor Publius Servilius Isauricus accompanied by the young Julius Caesar, in an open-sea battle, which Olympos and the surrounding area became a Roman province.
It took about30 minutes to walk through the main section of ruins. A few sections were closed up and off limits with restoration work being done on them, but we were able to walk though most of them.
Closer to the beach there was another section of ruins that were in a dense forest. This area was trickier to navigate as we had to hop over some streams and ruins to get through, but it was worthwhile with a necropolis area and other ruins scattered about.
Below the head of Medusa is are two inscriptions in Greek. The translation is as follows:
I Eudemos, know from my captainship the way between the ways
From one Pontos to the other, the discovery of Pallas.
All the people from Chalcedon town of Bythinia decreed…
My fortunate homeland seeing me fit gave me the duty of office.
The people of Lycia were of the same mind; and I was a member of the council of Elder.
The ship sailed into the last harbour and anchored to leave more,
As there was no longer any hope from the wind or daylight,
After the light carried by the dawn had left Captain Eudemos,
There buried the ship with a life as short as a day, like a broken wave.
Near the beach were a few more ruins out in the open, including part of a bathhouse.
There was another site near Olympos that we didn’t have time to visit. It was the Chimaera, an eternal flame located some distance from the other ruins caused by natural gas. Unfortunately, it it much better to see at night, required a few hours hiking and we were feeling the summer heat so we had to give it a pass.
We enjoyed the trip to Olympos and found the beach there one of the better ones for clarity and lack of overcrowding. The facilities are basic, so you might want to bring an umbrella with you for shade, but it was nice to enjoy the water under the shade of the ancient ruins!