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Termessos: Hiking Through the Ruins

By Ellen @ElleninTurkey

Termessos: Hiking through the Ruins

The ancient city of Termessos is situated in the Taurus mountains 30 Kilometers from the center of Antalya, at an altitude of 1,500 meters.  Its position made it so invulnerable to attack that even Alexander the Great was unable to conquer it in 333 b.c.e.  An ally of Rome, Termessos was granted a free city charter from the empire in 71 c.e. and flourished until the fourth century, when an earthquake destroyed its aquaduct.
Termessos: Hiking through the Ruins
Well, Termessos may have been too much for Alexander the Great, but for me it was an opportunity to spend a day with friends getting some outdoor exercise while exploring ancient ruins.
It was Emily who convinced Billy to rent a car and take us, along with his seven year old son , for a day trip. Emily's been teaching English here for about a year. She's from Colorado, so hiking up a mountain is as natural a Sunday activity for her as heading to Barney Greengrass for bagels and lox is for me.

Termessos: Hiking through the Ruins

Temple of Athena

Speaking of food, on the way up we spotted a gozleme stand, so we decided to pick some up to take with us. Spinach for the grown-ups and potato for Ellis. We ate them at the foot of the mountain, at the picnic tables next to the temple of Athena.
After fortifying ourselves with gozleme it was time to head up the mountain.  It started off just fine, with an easily manageable uphill slope:
Termessos: Hiking through the Ruins

Later, the path got rockier and steeper :
Termessos: Hiking through the Ruins

And finally, we were just climbing through rocks to reach the top of the mountain:
Termessos: Hiking through the Ruins

Just when I started thinking to myself ,"I'm too old for this sh*t" , we reached the payoff  -  the famous amphitheater. It's not in the pristine condition of the one in Aspendos, nor is it as large, but its position on the mountain top makes the Termessos amphitheater unique and worth climbing over rocks to see.
Termessos: Hiking through the Ruins

Termessos: Hiking through the Ruins
Next to the amphitheater were the remains of several archways, and Ellis insisted on exploring every one.
It began to get cold around three o'clock, so Emily and I convinced the boys to start heading down the "path". I was less concerned with the cold than with the visibility; once the sun went behind the mountains we wouldn't be able to see where we were going. The prospect of having to negotiate a steep and rocky terrain in the dark was not appealing. But we made it down, and I only fell once in the process.
At the bottom of the hill we visited the necropolis, where the dramatic tableau of tombs strewn about the wilderness reminded me of the Francesca Zambello production of Lucia di Lammermoor:
Termessos: Hiking through the Ruins

Emily thought the tombs looked like cassette tapes.  I guess we have different musical references, but I could definitely see the cassette once she mentioned it.

Termessos: Hiking through the Ruins

Cassette tomb at Termessos


Ellis was just happy he had more places to climb into:

Termessos: Hiking through the Ruins

Ellis and Emily in a tomb at the Termessos necropolis


When Billy was finally able to get Ellis into the car he fell asleep almost immediately (Ellis fell asleep; Billy was driving).
We drove back to town listening to Guy Lombardo sing "Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think". This seemed apropos, just in case we'd missed the point of the tombs.

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