Located close to Olympos Mountain famous for the Chimera or Olympic flame, Çirali has a beautiful natural beach with fantastic views of the Olympos ruins to one end.
The best time to walk up to see the flame is just before dusk, taking advantage of the cooler part of day whilst the almost pyrotechnic effect is at its most impressive during the hours of darkness. Looking away from the magic of the fires there is the added bonus of spectacular views of the Lycian ruins above.
Çirali beach, extending for 3kms, is one of the few protected beaches where the Caretta Caretta sea turtles lay their eggs. On moonlit nights, adult Caretta Caretta return to these shores where they were born to lay their eggs, having travelled thousands of miles to get here. The beach links Çirali village with Olympos village, via the ancient Olympos site. There are boat trips leaving from the beach.
There are a dozen or so restaurants in the village and surrounding area, with some lovely ones scattered along the beach. There are a few simple gözleme (Turkish pancakes) eateries which you really must try. Restaurants vary from simple Turkish to menus with more sophisticated influence.
There are no banks or ATM’s in Çirali but you can exchange small amounts of cash at your hotel or in the local shops. In the summer months a PTT/post office operates. The nearest bank is in Tekirova (15kms) or further a field in Kemer or Kumluca. There are plenty of small shops in Çirali however on Fridays Kumluca holds a local produce market which is worth a visit – a great opportunity for photographs as well as buying some fresh foodstuffs.
If you are in Çirali in the cooler months it is a lovely area for walking. The Lycian way goes through this area and is an excellent route to follow. Visit the little village of Ulupinar (just below the D400) where there are a few restaurants all specialising in trout.
The Tahtali Aerial Cableway uniquely combines two classic holiday destinations – the sea and the mountains. Mount Tahtali, at 2,365m above sea level is well worth a visit. On a clear day the views are amazing although the tickets are a little expensive. The journey up takes 20-30 minutes.
The Chimera has mystified scientists as much as the people of ancient times as to how fire spontaneously erupts from holes in the mountain. Chimaera was another Lycian city, and is named after the mythological son of Typhon. Legend has it that the Chimaera was killed by Bellerophon who mounted Pegasus and bombarded the Chimaera with molten lead. From a realistic viewpoint, the most logical reason for the flames is that it is natural gas seeping through cracks in the earth – although scientists are still unable to discover the compounds of the gases. The mythological reason for the fires is far more interesting than the scientific one – make your own assumption!
In Lycian times the ancient port city of Olympos was one of the members of the Lycian Federation. Because of the wealth of Olympos, it had three (compared to less wealthy cities that had only one) seats in the federation. During this period the city was subject to raids by pirates. Later, the city was rescued by the Roman commander lsauricus. The city’s wealth was due to its strategic trading position — it benefited from Genoese and Venetian traders who took advantage of the city’s natural harbour.
Places to visit from Cirali inclide the ruins at Arykanda, Limyra, Termessos & Aspendos. If you are lucky enough to be in the area during the Aspendos fesitival, try to book for one of the performance in the acoustic Roman theatre. A day to visit the old town in Antalya would be well spent, head for Kaleci. There is also the Beldibi cave near to Kemer that is well known for cave paintings, although rather faded now. Many flock to the Duden waterfalls on the North east of Antalya, this would be a good place to visit if you are passing, say to Aspendos. The sunken city at Kekova, the birth place of Saint Nicholas at Demre together with the ancient Lycian ruins at Myra would make a good day trip. Elmali is best on a Monday to see the Market as well as the mosque built by Mimar Sinan and an impressive Turkish Bath.