On the way to Antalya, along the newly- opened coastal highway, which allows the most optimum view of the beauties of the Mediterranean, a signpost some 35 kilometers before Antalya leads us along a forest road to Phaselis.
Although the nearby Beldibi Cave shows some signs of prehistoric dwellings, we can trace the city of Phaselis no further back than the 7th century B.C. As it possessed three natural harbors and was close to a rich forested region, Phaselis was founded as a colony of Rhodes in 690 B.C. However, as in the other areas along the Anatolian coastline, there were settlements here before the arrival of colonists from Rhodes, and therefore it was probably founded first by force, or perhaps by gradual integration with the local people, after their initial acceptance of the colonists.
Phaselis, which derived its existence from the sea in the 6th and 7th centuries, was captured by Persia after they took Anatolia, and later by Alex the Great after his defeat over Persia. It was her Alexander accepted many of the envoys from the of Pamphylia, then advanced to Gordion, taking of the coastal cities one after another.
After the death of Alexander, the remained in Egyptian hands from 209 -197 under the reign of the Ptolemies. With theC9nc1 of the Apemaia Treaty, it was handed over 1 Kingdom of Rhodes, together with the other cit Lycia. From 190 -160 B.C., it was absorbed in Lycian League under Roman rule. Like Olypos Phaselis was under the constant threat of pira the lst century B.C., and the city was even takel by the pirate Zenicetes for a period, but was from the threat when he was defeated by the Ro In 42 B.C. Brutus had the city linked to Rome. I the Byzantine period, the city became a bishopr the 3rd century A.D., its convenient harbor had under the threat of pirates once again and it began lose importance, suffering further losses at the hands of Arab vessels until becoming totally impoverished the 11th century.
When the Seljuks began to concentrate Alanya and Antalya as their ports, Phaselis ceased be a port of any note.
Phaselis is a city of natural harbors, of it has no less than three, as we had indicated.
Near the car park is the northern harbor to this is the naval base, and to the south southern harbor.
When the two small islets in the northern harbor were joined to the mainland by a breakwater, the harbor was enlarged and shaped to accommodate a large number 6f ships. The military harbor to the south of this was protected by a breakwater which extended from the walls around the promontory. It is still possible to see the remains of this breakwater and the walls. Let us look at the other remains to be found in this once-favored port of ancient times. situated at the unsurpassable point between sea and forest that made it one of the gems of antiquity.
As we begin to look over the city of Phaselis, founded over a peninsula that narrowed into bays to the north and south, we first see the ruins of an aqueduct. While water needs were met during Phaselis' early period with cisterns and wells basic need was later met with an aqueduct brought water from faraway places, just everywhere else in the Roman Empire. Water was brought by aqueduct from a spring to the north city to a hill behind the Hadrian Agora where it was distributed within the town through channel water pipes.
The actual ruins of the city lie on both sides of the main avenue that connects the military h with the south harbor. The avenue, which measures 125 meters long by 20-25 meters wide, has side on either side that are reached by climbing steps. After encountering a square in the middle of the avenue, one reaches the south harbor. This avenue, which was laid with flat stones, also had a sewage and drainage system running under it.
Now, by entering this main avenue from the military harbor, one comes across ruins on both sides. The rubble that is seen on the west side were shop lined up along the avenue. Behind these, one encounters a structure with a confusing plan, whereas one sees the bath-gymnasium complex on the other side of this. Behind these were training rooms. Because the gymnasium, which had mosaics on the floor, was used for different reasons in later ages, it lost its original layout. One entered the bath dressing room through two doors in the south, whereas one stepped into the cold and warm sections from here. The floor and walls of the baths, which were constructed in the 3rd century A.D., were once covered in marble, whereas we gather that it was renovated later on and put into use.
The large structure to the south of the bath is an agora. The layout of the agora, which had a wide gate that opened up to the town square, Was almost square-shaped and because it was constructed during the reign of Hadrian (117-138 A.D.) it is called Hadrian's Agora. The agora was surrounded by porticos and shops were situated behind the porticos. A basilica with a rectangular layout was added in the 5th and 6th centuries to the northwest half of Hadrian's Agora, whereas the three-windowed apse can still be seen today. In addition to this, several wings were added to the agora's east and south sides. The large cistern found here is rather interesting.
It is understood that statues once lined the agora's wall edges that overlooked the avenue. It is known that there were two statues at both sides of the entry gate, one of Opramoas, from Rhodiapolis, who helped a number of Lycian cities and who had provided Phaselis with major assistance during this time, as well as that of Saxa Amyntianus. In addition to these statues, there was also a fountain that decorated the facade of the agora.
In making a wide angle, the second section of the avenue begins after the square. One immediately encounters the Domitian Agora at the corner. The building had two gates that faced the avenue. It is called the Domitian Agora due to the fact that an inscription which was written in honor of Emperor Domitian (81-96 A.D.) was found above one of the doors. The courtyard of this agora was in the shape of a major structure complex. Ruins of a final agora on the west side of the avenue belong to a later period. The agora's inner courtyard was surrounded with corridors in a portico manner, and the shops were located in the rear .This agora was connected with the south harbor.
At the end of the main avenue lies Hadrian's Gate. It is possible to see the south harbor with all its magnificence from this gate, The view of a myriad shades of blue sea with mountains in the background topped with winter snow and fog gives the place a mysterious air, Let's take a look at the ruins on the east side by returning back to the main avenue.
Below the theater, one comes across the remnants of another bath. The formation of this bath, which belongs to the 3rd and 4th centuries, was made up of three main spaces that ran parallel to each other. The first space, which once held the swimming pool was known as the frigidarium, the second section was the tepidarium, whereas the third part was the caldarium. Today, the brick foundations that provided heat for the bath can still be seen. To the south of the bath, one may encounter ruins of the town's mosaic - covered public toilet, which was situated on the avenue.
Above this bath, one comes across a theater that once held 1,500-2,000 people. This Hellenistic theater was established on a hill overlooking the town, with a view of the sea, as well. One climbs stone steps to reach the theater from the avenue. The entrance and exit were located on either side. These sections underwent major change during the Byzantine Age. The cavea, which was in the shape of a semi-circle, had 20 rows of seats. The seating areas were divided into five sections by four sets of stairs. The stage originally had two stories, but only the bottom one remains intact. The stage had five doors. The theater continued to be utilized during the Roman period after some changes were made to it. Located on the acropolis in the Temple of Athena above the upper part of the theater was Achilles' broken spear made from ash wood. Ancient writers wrote that while Alexander was in Phaselis, he visited the temple and touched the spear. In addition to the Temple of Athena, we know that there were the temples of Herac1es, Hestia and Hermes on the acropolis, which goes back to early period. In addition, there were also palace and official buildings on this site, Today, late- period ruins and cisterns can be seen through a thick blanket of vegetation. phaselis' necropolis is located in several places. The most widespread one is located along the coastline at the edge of the north harbor. Various types of tombs can be seen here.