Monday, September 26, 2011

Chimera: Eternal Flames in Cirali near Olympos, Turkey

Cirali, Turkey's beach is about 3 or 4 kilometers long on the Mediterranean Sea. The water is clear and perfect swimming temperature. At the south end lies the ruins of Olympos, where people worshipped Hephaestrus, the fire god. Walk to the north end of the beach and up the hill (3.75TL entry fee) to see why. The Chimera, the eternal flames.

We arrived after sunset, while there was still enough light to walk up the wide, rocky path without flashlights,(which one can rent at the entrance). Under natural light, the path is pretty good, with a lot of tall steps that might challenge short legs. It took more care to walk down after dark.

At the top, sure enough, there's a rocky slope with little fires scattered up the hillside. Some barely burn; others blast out pretty well, providing heat to those nearby. Although I comprehend how natural gas could seep out of rock, I do not understand the source of ignition that could keep these fires burning for thousands of years.

Tips for travelers: Both roads lead to the entrance. For fun, bring marshmallows. My iPhone 4 with the flashlight app provided enough light to get back down the hill. It also shot better photographs than the my Nikon Coolpix, and this video too:

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