Many say that Turkey is an exciting country, that has a lot to offer. Most people know, that Turkey has a huge story behind it. But the fewest known of the historical role, the country has had in the development of civilization. That the country is also the focal point for several fables, tales and large parts of the Greek mythology (a good bite of Turkey has been under Greek rule for several periods) is probably not something, one normally associates with Turkey. The burning mountain of Yanartas is just one of these places, where the great stories have probably taken place.
My 11-year-old son has talked a great deal about his desire to see the burning mountain of Yanartaş, which is just an hours an a half drive Antalya. He has often heard us talk about it and I think, that he might imagine an entire mountain of fire. It’s now far from the truth.
Tie the shoes and up the mountain:
So last autumn we were on the long-awaited trip to the blazing mountain at the small town of Çıralı, about 80 km outside Antalya. I was also really excited to get there, because I’ve never been there. That is, we have actually been there once before with my parents for about 11 years ago. But there I was pregnant and had also a 1 year old baby in a stroller, so I only saw the little kiosk and benches at the foot of the mountain. I was advised not to go there, because it was an overly strenuous trip for someone who was pregnant and having a baby too.
And I can only agree with that.
So this time we were prepaired with good running shoes and lots of water, so we had a fair chance to reach the top. And it turned out to be quite necessary. For WHAT a trip! On high, steep steps plated with stone, some places replaced by small paths with gravel. It was a bit of a challenging trip, even though my 2 “mountain goats” took it at an amazing pace.
Where Legends Are Born:
Aprox. 1 km uphill, however, we reached the cliff, where the flames jumped out of the cracks in the rocks. It was a very nice and special sight. Fascinating to see how it burns just out of the rocks. It was just before you could almost believe in the legend of Bellerophon, who on his white, winged horse Pegasus overpowered and killed the fierce chimera (or Chimaera, as it is called in some places), but did not die completely and therefore still spits fire through the mountain). You can read more about the legend of Chimera in my next article one of these days.
Actually, there is not much to see up there on the mountain. Of course, the flames are fascinating and are a great place to sit and enjoy and fry sausages or eat marshmellows as we did. The view is phenomenal and one can be completely hypnotized by just sitting here and relaxing, looking out over the countryside and the water in the distance and just enjoying the silence and warmth of the flames. And then you definitely need the rest after the fierce trip up.
And then it’s really incredible to think, that the flames have burned uninterrupted for at least 2500 years.
Marshmellows and the burning mountain:
A highlight was definitely, when we took the sticks and matshmellows from our backpack and roasted them over the fire, until they became soft and delicious and slightly burned. My son was so happy and excited about this experience. That’s also something to brag about in the schoolyard – that you have roasted marshmellows on a mountain, while the flames came out of the rocks. Street value someone would call it.
My son, aka mountain goat no. 1, was of course not tired after the steep way up. He jumped on the rocks, explored the surrounding forest and picked a single flower for his mother. The stones are fairly loose, so you really need to take care – both when going up and down.
There are also the ruins of a small temple belonging to the Greek god Hephaestus. Hephaestus was called for the smith of gods and was associated with fire and flames. So very appropriate for this place. There are also remains of a Byzantine church with fine paintings, but the site is not properly excavated yet.
Yanartaş – a popular place:
Yanartaş is a popular tourist destination, although it’s far from all, that wants to climb the cliffs. You should at least consider, whether you have the physics (although you can only take it easy). It takes about 45 minutes to get up at a reasonable pace and with a couple of breaks inlaid. It is also a popular place for hikers and people who are trekking on the old Lykia hiking trail, that also comes past Phaselis, which you can read about here.
In ancient times, the ships navigated after the flames of the Yanartaş mountain, but I think it’s a little hard to imagine. We weren’t there, while it was dark – the road up and down is simply too dangerous I think. A really good torch is a minimum, because there is no light. We got there late in the afternoon. First of all, the worst heat had just settled (to be honest, who would like to climb a mountain in full sun and roaring heat?) And secondly, the sun had gone down behind the mountain and the twilight began, while we were there. Of course, it meant that the flames stepped clearer than on a bright day.
In fact, it varies, how big the flames are. In the winter they should be the greatest. I have been told, that it is due to changes in the atmospheric pressure, and that the groundwater is slightly higher in winter, so that the gas pressure increases and thus the flames. The flames are caused by cracks in the rocks, where a mixture of different gases dissolves (primarily methane gas). When it meets the air, fire arises. So it has nothing to do with volcanoes, as my son was otherwise convinced.
I think we gave about 6 Turkish lira in entrance (ie about 1,3 eur). Children are free and there is no museum card here if you should have bought such oine.
I have to admit, that it was a little hard to find and that the road signs to Yanartaş was not that good. But, in return, Çıralı is a small town, so it’s not entirely difficult. Should you want a little longer stay, there are several smaller and very cheap guesthouses and hotels in the city and a beautiful beach. Not far from here are also the beautiful river cafes in Ulupinar, which I have written about here.
You can see this article in danish here/ du kan se denne artikel på dansk her.