Mountaintop Morning at Termessos on Turkey’s South Coast

Turkey’s south coast is a great antidote to the busy streets and bazaars of Istanbul. It did not take much to encourage the hikers in the group to abandon their beds in the restored Ottoman houses of our hotel in the Old City in Antalya and to head to the mountains inland to the ancient archeological site of Termessos. One hour outside of the city and we are into Gulluk Dagi National Park. The road winds up the steep mountainside with hairpin turns until we reach a parking lot and the beginning of the hiking trails.

Our day is perfection, not a cloud in the sky and the early morning coolness makes the uphill climb a comfort. Here we are at Termessos, the home of the Somian culture of ancient times. The first recorded reference to this city is in the Illiad in the 7th BC. Alexander the Great laid siege to this city in the 3rd c BC but w as unable to conquer these people and moved on with his troops after losing some of his Generals. Our hike past the lower city walls makes it clear why this location would be so difficult to conquer and so easy to defend. The steep terrain, mountaintop cisterns and formidable walls plus the fierceness of the inhabitants were too much for Alexander and his troops. Termessos was one of the few cities not to fall to Alexander on Turkey’s south coast.

The ‘star of the show’ on the site is the theatre. It is built into the hillside surrounded by mountain views and a far off view of the Mediterranean. Modern day Antalya is visible from the theatre. Of course, we test the acoustics and the predictable is true, our voices carry clear and true. Our imaginations are fired by our surroundings and visions of plays unfolding fill our minds. As we hike back down the trail we have the perverse pleasure of crossing paths with a large group coming to the site. It is that smug feeling of having had the site to ourselves and all the magic of Termessos in the early hours unfold seemingly for us alone. Turkey’s south coast is a delight. Now we are heading off for some time at the seaside. More perfect days ahead and more exploration in store.







3 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Hi Catherine and Jack. One can only imagine the splendour of Termessos at its peak. Awesome architecture and history.

    • Catherine Mortensen says:

      Beat the crowds…. That is always our strategy. Love to get onto a Turkish mountaintop with you one day.

  2. Susan says:

    Oh Catherine – you are making my feet itchy! After our extended summer the rain is falling thick and fast. Love that you beat the crowds – a true victory!

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