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A port to anchor in Phaselis

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Old March 20th, 2010, 08:43 AM posted to rec.travel.budget.backpack,rec.travel.europe,soc.culture.turkish,rec.travel.asia
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Default A port to anchor in Phaselis

[Read this articlw with photos at: http://turkradio.us/k/phaselis/ ]

x0x A port to anchor in Phaselis


Once among the Mediterranean's major port cities, Phaselis has a
beauty that held even Alexander the Great in thrall...
Have you ever seen a city that was founded in return for dried fish?
If your answer is "No" and you ask whether such a city exists on
earth, it is time for you to visit the ancient city of Phaselis, 45 km
from Antalya and 12 km from Kemer. Yes, legend has it that the land
upon which Phaselis was built by Rhodian colonists in the early 7th
century B.C. was purchased by the founder Lacios from a goatherd named
Cylabros for a small mess of fried fish. Before we start roaming
through the ruins of Phaselis, how about a brief look at the city's


Ancient sources tell us that from the time of its founding Phaselis
was ruled by a number of states, with its first masters being the
Persians in the middle of the 6th century B.C. Indeed, such was the
case for all of Lycia.
Granted autonomy by the Athenian general Cimon in 469 B.C., the city
again came under the sway of the Persians when the latter defeated
Athens in the war of 411 B.C. About a century later, in 333 B.C.,
Phaselis hosted a very famous guest: Alexander the Great. Having first
entered Anatolia in 334 B.C., the Macedonian king received an
invitation from numerous cities but chose to winter in Phaselis, the
fame of which had reached him earlier. The sources recount that while
he was in the city, Alexander frequently visited the temples of Athena
and Heracles as well as the statue of the philosopher Theodectes which
stood in the heart of town. Considering that the broken spear of
Achilles was kept in the Temple of Athena, these particular visits may
be considered the homage of one great warrior to another. After the
death of Alexander, Phaselis, together with all of Lycia, came under
the dominion first of Egypt's Ptolemaic Kingdom, then of the Syrian
king Antiochus III, and finally of Rhodes. In 168 B.C. it achieved
independence and joined the Lycian League. Starting in the early 1st
century B.C., however, when Lycia lost its authority, the city was
used as a base for pirates.
Then in A.D. 43 it became part of a Roman province embracing all of
Lycia and Pamphylia. Some 250 years later pirates again made their
appearance on the scene. But during that period pirates were not the
only problem Phaselis had to face. According to the Roman author
Aelian, wasps plagued it as well, in such numbers that many residents
had to flee the city. In the 7th century A.D. began the Arab raiding
of the Mediterranean port cities, and Phaselis, because of its
strategic situation, once again came into prominence. The population
began to increase, and there was much defensively oriented building.
However, this return to prominence was not long-lived, and in the 9th
and 10th centuries the title of leading port in the gulf shifted to
After maintaining its existence until the 12th century, Phaselis,
like an actor who has completed his role, stepped down from the stage
and vanished.


Apart from its strategic situation, one reason everyone wanted to
possess Phaselis was its economic power, with the chief exports being
ship-building lumber, rose oil and perfumes. Another reason that the
city changed hands frequently was that its denizens felt no tie to any
one power or state, and were on good terms with whomever came along.
Gifted in trade, the people of Phaselis were known for centuries as
the shrewdest folk in Pamphylia. And the trade revenue garnered by
these people constituted the source for a budget that made Phaselis
one of the most beautiful and modern cities of its age.
Like many colonies, Phaselis was built on a peninsula, the highest
point of which was on a promontory near the sea where the city's first
inhabited zone lay, the Acropolis or Upper City. Because this zone was
high up and surrounded by rugged terrain, it was protected from
possible danger. In line with the traditions of the age, the temples
(other than the Temple of Athena) were erected here, along with the
palaces and public buildings. Today one sees only a few remains poking
up through the vegetation, plus cisterns of various size.
Having been for many centuries a major point for Mediterranean
trade, Phaselis had three separate harbors. The North Harbor was
obtained by filling in the gap between two small rocks on the sea to
form a long mole. Today the North Harbor is a rocky, windy bay, and
southward from it along the shore one can make out the remains of a
wharf. But the main harbor is on the eastern part of the peninsula. An
inlet that looks like a pool, this harbor is entered through a mouth
some 20 meters wide, on either side of which was constructed a tower
that stood as a continuation of the Acropolis fortifications and
provided security for the harbor. In honor of these two towers, the
main harbor is sometimes called the Military Harbor.Remains of the
towers, fortified walls and wharf may still be observed under water.
Meanwhile, the harbor on the south was planned for larger ships. Its
mole is also completely submerged today.
In addition to wooden piers, piers were also made in the harbor
using stones quarried from buildings as well as pedestals bearing
inscriptions. The inscriptions which on your visit to Phaselis you
will see lining the main avenue on both sides were salvaged from this


The zone which we may call the city's center lies below the
The main axis of this center is an avenue more than 200 meters long
and in some places 25 meters wide that links the Military Harbor to
the South Harbor. Signs of construction activity are evident on both
sides of the avenue, with the most interesting remains being those of
a bath and gymnasium complex unearthed in recent excavations.
There is a courtyard where athletes worked out, porticoes
surrounding it, and farther back the Gymnasium, consisting of
classrooms; and south of all this two doorways that lead to the
dressing area of the bath,otherwise known as the Apodyterium. Beyond
this section, with its marble-clad walls and floor, there is the cold
room (Frigidarium), then the warm room (Tepidarium), and finally one
reaches the hot room (Caldarium). South of the bath, which has been
dated to the 3rd century A.D., there is a market place or Agora built
in the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. Inscription-bearing pedestals
unearthed during various excavations indicate that there were statues
along the side of the Agora facing the square. And now we arrive at
the theater, considered the most splendid structure in all of
Phaselis. Built according to ancient Greek tradition in a spot where
it would blend with the fine view provided by the city and its
surroundings, the theater at one time was packed with two thousand
spectators, a breathtaking thought.
With its unmatched natural beauty combined with an ancient
historical legacy, Phaselis should be at the top of your list of
places to visit. To view the underwater remains remember to take along
a servicable pair of goggles or a face mask.

[Read this articlw with photos at: http://turkradio.us/k/phaselis/ ]

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