Termessos – Eagle’s Nest

Termessos – Eagle’s Nest

We’ve been on a roll with respect to traveling to sites via public transportation. Today we took the tram to the Antalya bus terminal to catch the dolmuş to Korkuteli. There are two separate terminals, one is the ilçeler (counties) terminal and the other is the sehirlerarasi (intercities) terminal. Korkuteli bus is at the counties terminal.

Fare per person is supposed to be 7.50TL, but the driver gypped us when he didn’t give us change for 20 figuring that we didn’t know the true cost (which we didn’t as it wasn’t posted, but later found out when the driver on the return trip gave us change back).

We were dropped off alongside the highway across from the Termessos park entrance. After crossing the highway we were expecting to see taxis that would bring us up the mountain to Termessos, but saw none. There wasn’t much we could do so we decided to walk the 5.6 miles up the mountain. Unbeknownst to us, the taxi driver was parked on the side of the highway where we were dropped off, and he must have seen us because he pulled up alongside us after we had started walking and offered to bring us up for 50TL. We tried to negotiate, but he wouldn’t have it. Joe suggested that we take it up for the time being, and walk down later if we choose to.

Termessos is located about 3,500 ft above sea level. This is the only town that Alexander the Great was never able to conquer due to the city’s terrain and topography. The story was that Alexander the Great was pointed in this direction by the people in Perge in 333 BC, and when he got to Termessos he surrounded the city. However, after realizing that he was not able to succeed in taking over the city, he marched off in rage and unleashed his fury on Sagalassos. Poor Sagalassos. He likened Termessos as an “Eagle’s Nest”. It is because of it’s location that Termessos had been able to remain independent and autonomous for a long period of time. The Termessians only abandoned the city after its aqua duct was damaged by an earthquake.

The 15-minute taxi ride dropped us off at the parking lot. He asked if we wanted a return trip later on, but we told him we’d walk back down, figuring it would be an easy downhill hike.
We proceeded towards the ruins
And 10 minutes later, we reached the lower city walls
Five minutes later, we reached the upper city walls and the Hamam (bath) & gymnasium.
The view looking back from the upper city walls
There are, however, intact pieces with beautiful Greek inscriptions amongst the rubble.
This does not look Greek

We kept seeing signs for the theater, but wanted to save that for last, so went ahead and checked out the other parts of the city.

Standing atop a wall in the odeon complex
The council house interior with a preview of what’s to come
The theater!

Pictures really don’t this place justice. You either have to come up here with a wide angle lens or use the “pano” function on your phone, because it’s impossible to capture everything in one shot. This looks like something out of medieval times, with a fire-breathing dragon perched here nesting high up in the mountains. This place is breathtaking, and it immediately became one of my favorite places in Turkey.

View from an opening in the theater
A side chamber in the theater
Where’s Waldo?

We spent a good 45 minutes just taking in the view and appreciating the stillness, while polishing off a bag of chips and strawberry wafers. We could have lingered longer had we not had to worry about getting down the mountain in a reasonable time.

We bumped into a group of Ironman athletes, who had just finished a race two days ago in Belek. One of them asked if we had seen the rock-cut tombs. I had completely forgotten about it, realizing we had in fact not seen it, and made a point to keep an eye out for it on our way back.

As we were going down the same path we came up from, we saw a couple taking a path on the opposite end of the city wall. I noticed that it was closer to a rock wall that had a slightly yellowish tinge to it. So we decided to check it out.

Looking up towards the upper city walls, we had come up on the left hand side of the wall. The alternate path down is on the right hand side of the wall.
Tada! The rock-cut tombs are located on the alternate path
Sarcophagi scattered about along the route
A sarcophagus set in the rock wall
Hadrian’s Gate – Temple of Artemis at the bottom of the path next to the parking lot
Roots growing over a pillar – evidence of Mother Nature slowly swallowing the ancient city

Then it was time to begin our trek down the mountain. Five point six miles is no big deal for us. I calculated that I can normally jog it in 45 minutes, so walking should probably take a little over an hour. Obviously, I overestimated how fast we walk. It ended up taking us an hour and 50 minutes to get down to the bus stop.

Figuring out how to catch the bus back to the Antalya bus terminal was a little tricky, as there are no bus stop signs. We ended up standing along the highway at the park entrance, and waving vigorously when we saw a dolmuş with an “Antalya” sign on the window.

We made it back in time for the market open. Thanks to daylight savings in the US, it bought us an extra hour here in Turkey, which doesn’t observe daylight savings.

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