Ancient Phaselis is set on three small, perfect bays, now protected within the grounds of a beautiful national park. Two millennia ago in Roman times this was a thriving port town shipping rose oil and the perfumes made of it, as well as timber from the surrounding forests. Today the three bays and ruined aqueduct of golden limestone shaded by fragrant pines are all that is left of once-prosperous Phaselis. Located near Olympos and not all that far from Antalya (map), it's a perfect spot for a quiet rest and a splash in the sea from one of the small pebbly beaches.
Although a cave in the vicinity - the Beldibi cave -shows signs of pre-historic dwelling, we can trace the city of Phaselis no further back than the 7th century B.C. It was founded as a colony of Rhodes, possessed three natural harbors, and was close to a richly forested region. However, as in other areas of the coast of Anatolia, there were settlements here before the arrival of the Rhodians colonists and therefore it was probably founded first by force, or perhaps by gradual integration with the local peoples after their initial acceptance of the colonists.
Phaselis fell into Persian hands after they took Anatolia and later into the hands of Alexander the Great after he defeated the Persians. Phaselis opened its doors to Alexander, admitting him as a guest. It was here that Alexander accepted many of the envoys from the cities of Pamphylia. Then taking each of the coastal cities in turn, he advanced to Gordion. After the death of Alexander, the city remained in Egyptian hands from 309 B.C. to 197 B.C. under the Ptokmaios. With the conclusion of the Apameia treaty it was handed over to the kingdom of Rhodes, together with the other cities of Lycia. From 190 B.C. to 160 B.C. it remained under Rhodians hegemony, but after 160 B.C. it was absorbed into the Lycian confederacy under Roman rule. Phaselis like Olympos was under the constant threat of pirates in the 1st century B.C., and the city was even taken over by the pirate Zenekites for a period, but was freed from the threat when he was defeated by the Romans. In 42 B.C. Brutus had the city linked to Rome. During the Byzantine period, the city became a bishopric.
In the 3rd century AD., its convenient harbor had fallen under the threat of pirates once again and it began to lose importance, suffering further losses at the hands of Arab vessels until totally impoverished in the 11th century AD. When the Seljuk’s began to concentrate on Alanya and Antalya their ports, Phaselis lost its importance.
Phaselis is a city of natural harbors, of which it has no less than three, as we have said. Near the car park is the northern harbor, next to this the naval base, and to the south the southern harbor. When the two small islets in the northern harbor were joined to the mainland by a causeway, the harbor was enlarged and shaped to accommodate a large number of ships. The military harbour to the south of this was protected by a mole which extended from the walls around the promontory. It is still possible to see the remains of this mole and the walls.