Phaselis – Where Antiquity and the Blue Mediterranean Meet

One of my favorite stops in Turkey was the quiet beach park and historic site of Phaselis, which is 58 kilometers west of Antalya. Can you imagine anything better than relaxing on the beach of your choice in one of three small bays, each overlooking the calm, clear, blue water–surrounded by pine trees, with Roman ruins right behind you? I can’t! It is a picture-perfect setting. For a map of this location, click here.

A perfect setting - one of the three bays at Phaselis.

A perfect setting – one of the three bays at Phaselis.

Some of the ruins are right next to the water!

Some of the ruins are right next to the water!

History of Phaselis

Phaselis has a long history, having been founded in the 7th century BC and belonging to many kingdoms over the years. It was a strategic location, with a great harbor. Phaselis was a major trading partner with Syria, Greece, Egypt and other Mediterranean countries. Its main exports were timber, lilium (lily) oil and roses. It was a prosperous community that didn’t worry too much about its overseers.  Alexander the Great came through in 333 BC and the city decided that rather than fight him, they would welcome him outside the city gates with a golden crown–a smart move. Alexander spent time here peacefully before moving on.

The Roman Theater at Phaselis.

The Roman Theater at Phaselis.

In the agora at Phaselis.

In the agora at Phaselis.

The main street in Phaselis, heading down to the largest bay and harbor.

The main street in Phaselis, heading down to the largest bay and harbor.

Phaselis became part of the Roman Empire in 43 BC and enjoyed 300 years of peace and prosperity. After a brief decline, the city experienced a renaissance of sorts in the 8th century and continued on until it was abandoned during the collapse of the Byzantine Empire  in the 13th century. Much of what we see today are the Roman and Byzantine-era ruins.

Practical Information

Phaselis is a park, with picnic tables, nice restrooms (with showers) and a few small snack stands. The entrance fee was 8 TL per person (1.8 Turkish Lira to the USD). The best way to reach Phaselis is by car from Antalya, either as a day trip or, (as we did) as a stop on the way to Kaş. Day-trip boats from Antalya also bring tourists to spend the day snorkeling and swimming.  The area is big enough that even with a few tourist boats it does not feel crowded—in fact we had the middle bay pretty much to ourselves.

The largest bay at Phaselis with a few boats.

The largest bay at Phaselis with a few boats.

Reference: Information sign-posted in park.