Phaselis Antalya - ancient harbour town

Phaselis - ancient harbour town

Phaselis, next to Kemer, is at the eastern end of a historic region known as Lycia, an independent Greek confederation of cities originating in the 8th century BC, reaching its high point in the 4th century BC and then becoming a Roman province in the 1st century BC.

The Lycians were an ancient tribe of fierce warriors possibly originating from Minoan Crete in 1400 BC, and also known as "sea wolves". There are records dating back to ancient Hittite documents referring to them as the "Sea People" who gave more importance to the afterlife than the terrestrial life. This explains the extensive necropolis remains, the sarcophagi, and other monumental rock tombs and facades sculpted in cliff walls. The Lycians were mentioned in Homer's Iliad when they fought as allies of the Trojans. Subsequently they were under Lycian rule until King Croesus fell to the Persians in 546 BC.

Phaselis was a prosperous trading city in the ancient world, but rather than fight against conquerors as the Xanthians did, Phaselis co-operated, and submitted to the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, and Seljuk Turks until abandoned in the 11th century AD in favor of Antalya as a trading center.Under the leadership of Domitian, Trajan and Hadrian the town was rebuilt after being nearly completely destroyed during the wars with the pirates and became important again. Most of today's ruins were built during this period. But from time to time the pirates came back attacking the town, little later Arabian tribes continued destroying the place and Phaselis wasn't able to suffer from this after the 7th century AC. Even a hundred years later when the Byzantines used Phaselis as a harbor for their fleet there was no turning point any more. Since the 10th century Phaselis was just used as a cheap possibility to get the needed materials to let Antalya grow. 

The natural harbors of Phaselis

Phaselis is situated on a small peninsula at the bottom of the Taurus Mountains. Most of the surrounding area is swamp land. Because of this special situation and the shape of the peninsula the town became so unique with its three mostly natural harbors. At the Northern harbor you still find some of the ancient breakwaters. Along the Northern harbor you will find the 400 meters long aqueduct of the kings leading into the town, which is still in good condition. The so called town harbor with it's mighty quay walls today is welcomed bay for swimmers. From over here you still can walk on the former 20 meters wide boulevard which is accompanied by some of the significant Roman buildings to the Southern harbor, protected by a huge wall. To the northwest three agora's from Hadrians, Domitians and following Late Antique follow. Over here you will as well find the ruins of the thermal bath and some of Byzantine epoch. Opposite to the south east of the road you can visit the old amphi theatre being built into the hill which still is in good condition. Little higher at the former acropolis of Phaselis you will notice the ruins of the old village houses, being used until the 7th century AC. Most other buildings have been demolished for using the stone material again.

Please read as well:

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Life | Outdoors