Travelling from Antalya along the coastal highway in the direction of Finike, after the 60th km descending to the sea for another 2 km, the peninsula where the ancient city of Phaselis lies can be reached. The city is established upon a peninsula with three small bays. The maquis, Mediterranean flowers, eucalyptus and oleander trees are noticeable in the ancient city covered with pine forests all around.
The beach of the northern port of the city is a natural egg-laying site of caretta caretta turtles and is under protection. It is reckoned that the name of the city was “Phasala/Paassala” meaning “Sea Urbanism” in the Luwian language. As a matter of fact, the Phoenicians who were engaged in maritime trade defined the city as a “seaside city spared by God”. The fact that the history of the area dates back to around 4000 B.C. is reckoned from the Luwian characteristics in the area. In Termessos established at an elevation of 900 m on the mountains, liquid products such as wine and olive oil flowed in the canals carved into rocky slopes along the mountain sides to Phasala. The liquid products flowing in the canals of which the traces are still distinguishable were poured into amphoras and pitchers at the port and shipped to the Mediterranean countries. Moreover, the fame of the numerous Mediterranean flowers growing in the area where the city lay spread throughout the ancient world.
The city, which produced and exported perfumes and flower oil, matched the Paris city of today. To this small port city, of which the population increased upon the immigration of the Anatolian people returning from the Trojan War during the 12th century B.C., joined the Rhodians in about 690 B.C., thereby starting the main urbanisation. It was stated that, with the dominance of Hellenic cultural elements in daily life, the city was set up by those coming from Rhodes. However, this cannot be true. The reason being that colonists, irrespective of where they came from and to whichever city on the Anatolian shores they emigrated to, found the cities to have previously been established by the Anatolian people. Therefore, the account given by the Hellenic historians that the peninsula upon which Phaselis was established was purchased by the Rhodian colonists from a shepherd in the area against dried fish is absurd.
This invention was held in derision, and the phrase “sacrifice Phaselisian style dried fish”, that is to say, have your lie acknowledged, to mean “hoping for the impossible”, was used. The famous Phaselisian thinker of the ancient times is the philosopher Teodectes. Furthermore, Phaselisians were historically notorious for their stinginess. Phaselis, which remained under Persian sovereignty until the arrival of the Macedonian King Alexander the Great at the city, continued with maritime trade also during this period of occupation. Phaselis which was later seen to be within the Lycian Union, was exposed to the invasions of pirates during the 1st century B.C. and, then, taken within the boundaries of the Roman Empire. The city, which maintained and developed its character of a port city during this epoch, was again captured by pirates during the Byzantine era and subsequently exposed to the Arab raids after the 7th century A.D. Having lost its importance when the plain turned into a swamp and was occupied with mosquitoes and wasps, it was abandoned. The Turkoman Yörüks who arrived during the 12th century in the area which had been left abandoned for years, improved the swamps 2 km to the north-west of the remains and opened agricultural fields. Today, the remains of the ancient city are mostly in ruins. To the north, south and east of the peninsula are three natural bays used as ports. The Colonnaded Street linking the northern and southern ports to each other, laid with stone blocks on the floor and lined with columns on the right and left was the busiest place in the city. In the middle of this street was the Agora square, in circular form, and at the western end was the Municipal Palace Bauleterion, thought to have been two-storoyed. To the eastern end of the square are the remains of the Roman Bathhouse functioning on the under-heated hypocaust system with cold and hot water pools. Ascending to the acropolis from here, the theatre, with 20 caveas, bearing the traces of the 4th century B.C. is seen.
The theatre, with a seating capacity of 3 thousand people, has a total of 3 actors’ doors, one of which is small. The building is faced with marble reliefs, with the statue of Bacuss, god of entertainment, thought to have existed at the uppermost point. In the theatre, which was transformed into an arena during the late Roman era, cages were built in the lower chambers of the stage building in order to protect the spectators from wild animals. On the hillside east of the acropolis the remains of two temples belonging to Athena Poltas, the chief god of Phaselis, and Hermes, God of Trade, are visible. It is reckoned that the entrance gate, viewed from the north, in the form of a triumphal arch which is in ruins to a substantial part, was built to commemorate the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s visit to the city. The water canals immediately adjacent to this door carried water to the city from Mount Tahtalı at a distance of 25 km. Furthermore, there are several water cisterns used to collect rainwater. In the two necropolises within the city the various sarcophagi, sarcophagus covers and the figures of eros and lions worked on them are striking. The remains unearthed as a result of the excavations in the city are on display in the Antalya Museum. Today the settlement unit of Tekirova has become a tourism centre with its facilities and shopping centres which meet world standards.