The ruins of the Lycian city of Phaselis (Faselis in Turkish) are magnificently situated on a peninsula around three small bays.
Phaselis was founded in 690 BC on the border between Lycia and Pamphylia by Greek colonists. There is some confusion about the origin of the founders. The sign at the entrance claims they originated from Argos in mainland Greece, while the more recent sign at the southwest harbour states, in Turkish, that the first settlers came from Rhodes.
In antiquity the three bays were used as natural harbours, making the city prosperous as a port for the shipment of timber, rose oil, and perfume. Phaselis had its trading links stretched as far as Egypt. In the 6th century BCE, Phaselis was overrun by the Persians who remained in control for the next 200 years. In 334 BCE, together with the whole of Lycia, it fell to Alexander. It is said that he was so enchanted with Phaselis, that he spent the winter here.
Under Roman rule, the city became part of the Lycian Federation but was soon overrun by Cilician pirates. When the pirate Zenicetes was defeated by the Romans, Phaselis was reduced to a mere shell. During the Byzantine period, Phaselis became a fleet base and a bishopric. Once again it was threatened by pirates and when Arab vessels added to this in the 11th century CE it became totally impoverished. When Seljuks concentrated their port activity on Alanya and Antalya, Phaselis ceased to exist as a port.
Sights & Photos of Phaselis
The ruins are not particularly exciting and are all from Roman and Byzantine times, but the combination of ancient remains within a pine forest that is surrounded by sea on three sides makes it a beautiful national park. The Roman aqueduct is the first and most obvious landmark of the site. It is supposed to have been one of the longest such conduits of antiquity. Phaselis was set around three small bays that served as harbours in antiquity and are now used as excellent swimming spots with nice beaches. The Roman theatre dates from the second century and could hold around 1500 people.