Current Location: Finike, Turkey
Current Position: 36 17.63 N 30 08.98 E (llz=36.25887,29.98447,13)
Next Destination: Hanging here for the winter
On the same day we learned The Truth about Santa Claus, we also visited the ancient Roman city of Myra, Mount Chimaera, and Olympus.
The Myra/Demre area is a fertile agricultural area thanks to the good soil brought down by the mountain rivers. Prior to the tourism boom the local economy was very dependent on agriculture. Today you'll find the locals growing pomegranates and citrus trees as well as large quantities of fruits and vegetables in green houses. The ancient Lycians didn't want to take up the precious land with burying of the dead, so instead wealthy Lycians had stonemasons carve tombs for them from the limestone walls of the mountains. Today the tombs have all been broken into and robbed, but they are still an impressive sight. And at the base of these rock-cut tombs stand the remains of an ancient Roman theatre. If you're a history buff you can get more information about the Myra/Demre area on Wikipedia.
It was then a couple of hours driving away from the coast, up into the mountains to get to Mount Chimaera. But before venturing to climb up the fiery mountain we stopped for lunch at a trout farm. We were served endless amounts of hot pide bread with dips and cheeses, followed by seasonal salads, and finished with fresh trout baked whole in a clay dish over a fire. Ahh, I'm drooling just thinking back!
In Greek Mythology the Chimera is a three-animal beast with the head of a lion, tale of a serpent, and goat in the middle, who breathes fire and was thought to be indestructible. Then along came the hero Bellerophan who was sent by the King of Lycia to kill the chimera (the king was trying, in a round about way, to kill Bellerophan). As it turns out Bellerophan succeeded in slaying the beast thanks to the winged horse, Pegasus, who flew Bellerophon high above the chimera, away from its fiery breath, and shot the creature full of arrows until it died.
Some, however, say that the chimera was not a beast but rather refers to the mountain, as Mount Chimaera "was on fire here, had lions and goats there, and was full of snakes over there". And since it was Bellerophon who made this habitable, he is therefore said to have "killed Chimaera"
Mount Chimaera (called in Turkish Yanartaş (flaming rock)) consists of nearly two dozen vents in the ground. The vents emit burning methane, which in ancient times sailors could navigate by.
Not far from Mount Chimaera lies the the ancient city of Olympus. This was quite a site, with ruins upon ruins to walk among. The city was founded during the Hellenistic period. According to Homer, it was from these mountains that the god Poseidon saw Odysseus sailing from Calypso's island and called up a huge storm that wrecked Odysseus on the island of Nausicaa.
One interesting tid-bit we learned from our guide was that the top of a fisherman's sarcophagus was shaped like the keel of a boat so that in the afterlife the inhabitant could flip the lid over and survive as a fisherman in the underworld (see the photo in the slideshow below for example).
As you can see it was a fantastic day, full of history & mythology. We look forward to our next Turkey adventure.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Current Location: Finike, Turkey