Phaselis1Fifty-six km west of Antalya off the road heading to Kemer lie the ruins of Phaselis, founded in the seventh-century BC by colonists from Rhodes who were probably attracted by the potential of its great natural harbours and easy access to timber.

If Turkey has a party archaeological site this would probably qualify for the title, the beaches, the glorious blue sea and the mountain backdrop meaning that the ruins are often almost overlooked by those more interested in having fun. 

On the border with Pamphylia, Phaselis retained its independence right through until the second century BC when it was lumped in with the neighbouring Lycian cities. Its main claim to fame appears to have been that its inhabitants sported a hairdo called a sisoe although exactly what this looked like is unclear.

Today the remains at Phaselis are not especially dramatic although they are wonderfully romantic because of their glorious setting amid sweet-scented pine trees right on the edge of the sea.

Around the site


You’ll be able to make out the remains of three separate harbours, one of them with a magnificent beach that attracts visits from passing gülets (wooden yachts). Turkish families use the free admission offered by their museum cards to come in and use the beaches for picnics.

Amongst the things to look out for are the remains of a triumphal arch erected to celebrate the visit of the Emperor Hadrian in 129. Back then presumably it must have looked very like the one that guards the entrance to Antalya’s Kaleiçi today although only the base survives today midway along a colonnaded street with one large and one small bathhouse opening off it.

The agora also opens off the road although in comparison with others such as the one in Perge it is not very exciting.

Much more interesting is the fine theatre, still with most of its seats intact and with a wonderful view out over the ruined skene (stage backdrop) and the pine forest to Tahtalı Dağı (Mt Tahtalı).Phaselis2

Proximity to Antalya, Kemer and other local tourist complexes makes Phaselis a magnet for boat tours, some of them annoyingly noisy. 

Transport info

To get to Phaselis by public transport take a bus from Antalya heading past Kemer to Tekirova. The buses run down to the ticket office from where it’s a walk of roughly one km to the ruins.

The buses take a good two hours to get to Phaselis since they stop everywhere along the way. 

In theory it would be much nicer to take a boat tour from Antalya, especially in summer when the humidity is daunting. However, I was discouraged from doing this because it was thought (probably rightly) that I wouldn't enjoy the loud music and heavy drinking that accompany many such trips. 











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