Çıralı is world-famous for both the Chimaera, Lycia's eternal fire, an extraordinary natural phenomenon and for its beautiful sandy beaches that provide nesting grounds to the Caretta-Caretta sea turtles. Add to this the idyllic oleander flowered Akdere creek and the nearby, within walking distance, ruins of the antique city of Olympos and you would believe to have found paradise.
Çirali has a large sandy beach, extending for about three kilometres. It is one of the few protected beaches where the loggerhead sea turtles Caretta-Caretta lay their eggs. The Caretta-Caretta turtle can reach 1.2 meters in length with a weight of about 100 kg. It has become protected as an endangered species in the Mediterranean Sea.
The eternal flame of the Chimaera, sometimes also written as Chimaera or Chimera was named in antiquity after some mythical fire-breathing super monster, part lion, part goat and part snake. The monster got eventually beaten by Bellerophon on his winged horse Pegasus and since then flames emerge from the rocks here. At this day, the Chimaera's profile is in use as the logo of the Turkish state oil company. Yanartaş (Burning Rock) as it is called in Turkish, is located on the top of a 300 m high hill that is part of the Olympos national park (Olimpos Milli Parkı). After the car park, it is a 20-30 minute hike to the ever-burning flames of Chimaera.
Çıralı is actually a small hamlet belonging to the village of Ulupinar that is located on the mighty Tahtalı Dağ (Mountain with wood). At the village of Ulupinar, next to a 250-year-old water mill and amidst the waterfalls of the Ulupinar river, there is a very nice restaurant: Ulupinar Değirmen ve Şelale Restaurant (Ulupinar Mill & Waterfall Restaurant), serving delicious Turkish food such as fresh trout, filled mushrooms and of course the ever-present rakı.
Çıralı is located at a distance of 70 km from Antalya and only 30 km of the package-tourist resort Kemer. Fortunately, as it is in between two environmentally protected areas, namely the archaeological site of Olympos to the south and nature preserve to the north, Çıralı sets for Turkey the pace to ecotourism and organic agriculture.
We visited Çıralı during our 2005 tour of Lycia, coming from Antalya. We stayed three marvellous days in the Çıralı pension owned and managed by friendly Cemil, his wife Nermin and their lovely daughter. At Cemil's pension, any meal from breakfast to dinner is a true feast, with delicious fresh, natural ingredients, most coming from Cemil's own garden. Cemil was also kind enough to be of help in providing transportation to the Chimaera and to Demre.