Termessos is a very well preserved ancient city located 17 km north-west of Antalya, in the Mount Güllük-Termessos National Park.
It was built 1,050 meters above sea level and spreads over a wide area. It's one of the best-preserved historic settlements in Turkey. This is a very impressive and important historical site to visit in Turkey.
Here, you will find all the important information you should know before visiting the ancient city of Termessos in Antalya.
What Can I Do in Termessos?
The city Termessos is located on the Güllük Mountain, also known as Termessos National Park, rich with botanic vegetation. The site houses many endangered animals. Close to the National Park's gate you will find a small museum that exhibits animals and plants unique to this environment.
Termessos is a hidden beauty among the wild plants and pine forests. You will find peaceful nature welcoming you while making your discoveries, away from the bustling touristic areas. You will also find that Termessos has a much more impressive atmosphere than many other ancient cities.
Among the remaining ruins are the city walls, Hadrian's Triumphal Arch, the cisterns, the theater, the gymnasium, the agora, the odeon, and the heroon. You can find the general plan of the city in the parking area.
Here are the places you will see in Termessos.
There are many temples and two large burial areas (necropolis) with a good number of tombs and sarcophagi in the ancient city of Termessos. In the Antalya Museum, there is a specific hall exhibiting the sarcophagi obtained from Termessos.
Tomb of Alcetas
In the upper necropolis, an important tomb belongs to Alcetas, who was one of Alexander the Great's commanders. He intended to take control of Termessos after Alexander's death. Young people from Termessos made a heroic mausoleum for him.
Alexander the Great's death caused a conflict between Antigonos and Alcetas, two of his commanders. Alcetas was defeated by Antigonos. But the people of Termessos defended Alcetas and the city was besieged once again for this reason. At the end of all this confusion, Alcetas killed himself and handed over his dead body to Antigonos. Alcetas's defenders built this monument for his memory, where he is depicted fighting on his horse.
With view of a cliff, this theater is one of the most interesting structures on earth. The theater has 4,200 seats and shows the characteristics of a Roman theater, but has the semi circular design from Hellenist period.
As in other classical cities, an odeon was located about 100 meters from the theater. This building, which resembled a small theater, dates back to the 1st century BC. It's well preserved in all its parts and shows high quality, cut stone construction.
Temple of Artemis
Both the temple and the cult statue inside of it were built by a woman named "Aurelia Armasta" and her husband. By examining the style, it's thought that the history of the temple goes back to the end of the 2nd century AD.
Temple of Zeus Solymeus
This temple was dedicated to the patron god of the city, Zeus Solymeus. Unfortunately, only a five meter high wall remains from the temple.
Entrance, Tickets, and Tours
How to Get to Termessos from Antalya
After going 6.5 km towards Korkuteli from Antalya, there is a Karain Cave junction on the right and a sign to Gülllük Mountain-Termessos National Park on the left.
Karain cave is 11 km away from this junction. If you want, you can make a combination tour with Termessos. After entering the national park's gate, it is necessary to go about 8.5 km on the winding asphalt road to reach the parking area.
There are ruins along the ancient road known as King's Road.
- Private Car: The ancient city of Termessos is located on the Antalya-Korkuteli Highway, 37 km from Antalya. It takes about 45 minutes to get there by car. Rent a car in Antalya.
- Minibus: It's not possible to get to the entrance of Termessos by public transportation. You should be prepared to walk, if you choose the minibus option. You can take the Antalya-Korkuteli minibus and get off on the Termessos crossroad. From here, either you can take a taxi or hike your way up to the site. The 8.5 km long road can be hiked on foot from here. It's perfect for hikers who enjoy historical sites but not so good for people with walking difficulties. A big bottle of water and comfortable shoes are necessary for this adventure.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Among the remaining ruins you will find the city walls, Hadrian's Triumphal Arch, the cisterns, the theater, the gymnasium, the agora, the odeon, and the heroon.
Minibus: It's not possible to get to the entrance of Termessos by public transportation. You should be prepared to walk, if you choose the minibus option. You can take the Antalya-Korkuteli minibus and get off on the Termessos crossroad. From here, either you can take a taxi or hike your way up to the site. The 8.5 km long road can be hiked on foot from here. It's perfect for hikers who enjoy historical sites but not so good for people with walking difficulties. A big bottle of water and comfortable shoes are necessary for this adventure.
Termessos is located on Korkuteli road, 30 kilometers from Antalya city center. It was built on a natural platform on the southwest side of Güllük Mountain, at an average of 1,150 meters above sea level.
There is a small fee for entrance to the national park. The ticket for the site is separate which you can buy at the site. If you have a Museum Pass, you can visit this historical ancient city free of charge.
The History of Termessos
It's not known exactly when the city was founded. According to the geographer Strabo, the inhabitants of Termessos, who were the Pisidian people, called themselves Solymi. Solymos was one of the Anatolian gods, who was identified with Zeus in the following years. His name was given to the mountain here. Solymos was frequently minted on Termessos coins. Solimos is mentioned in Homer's Iliad in connection with the legend of Bellerophon.
However, in historical sources, Termessos does not appear until around 334 BC, when Alexander the Great moved through the area and did not attack the city due to its strategically strong position high in the mountains. Alexander the Great did not touch this city during his Asian expedition.
The people of Termessos lived comfortably in the Hellenistic and Roman periods as 'friends and allies' of the Roman people. The city belonged to the Roman province of Pamphylia.
Termessos, after a gradual decline, was finally abandoned in the 5th century. Since the ruins show obvious earthquake damage, it is reasonable to assume that an earthquake prompted the inhabitants to leave the city.
Due to its natural and historical wealth, the city is included in the National Park category. Termessos has not yet been subjected to archaeological excavation so far.