Termessos – a mountain idyll


Termessos is about the most spectacular ancient city in Turkey that I’ve been to. Not only does it have a remote and romantic mountain setting with some of the finest views anywhere, it’s also not crawling with tourists. In fact, because of its relative inaccessibility you only rarely bump into a fellow intrepid traveller.

Last time I was there ready for the climb in my hiking boots and all, a car pulled up in the dust trap that passes for a car park at the base of the trail and three blonde, middle-aged women in high heels and hot-pants got out. I heard some squeals behind me later on about halfway up, so assume they either caught their heels in the megalithic paving or were bitten by snakes and were forced to return to their hotels to be soothed by their Turkish toy boys.

Termessos is so high up in the mountains30km north of Antalya that even Alexander the Great in 334BC decided it wasn’t worth going out of his way to lay siege to it. In the 3rd century BC it sided with the Romans and was incorporated into their Asian provinces. It disappeared from history during Byzantine times and was only rediscovered in 1840, and because nobody has got around to excavating it yet the impressive remains are still untouched, disorganised and totally awesome.

Alketas was one of Alexander’s generals who ran the city after the great man’s death, and when he too died he was laid to rest in a tomb that can still be seen deep in the snake-infested undergrowth.  It features a rider on a horse, a deathbed scene and an imperial Eagle. See how the mighty are fallen.

Temple of Athene


Royal rock tombs

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