The Chimera (Yanartaş), the eternal flames on a rocky mountain side above Çıralı village near Olympos, is a fascinating natural phenomenon: about a dozen flames issue from a mass of rock with no apparent fuel to sustain them.
The flames are burning a sort of methane gas that has been venting from the earth on this rocky slope for thousands of years.
In ancient times, mariners passing by along the Mediterranean coast below used the bright flames as a landmark on their voyage.
The Chimera, a cluster of spontaneous flames which blaze from crevices on the rocky slopes of Mt. Olympos, is the stuff of legends. it’s not difficult to see why ancient peoples attributed these extraordinary flames to the breath of a monster – part lion, part goat and part dragon. Even today, they have not been explained.
In mythology, the Chimera was the son of Typhon. Typhon was the fıerce and mon-strous son of Gaia, the earth goddess, who was so frightening that Zeus set him on fire and buried him alive under Mt. Aetna, thereby creating the volcano. Typhon’s off-spring, the Chimera, was killed by the hero Bellerophon on the orders of King Iobates of Lycia. Bellerophon killed the monster by aerial bombardment – mounting Pegasus, the winged horse, and pouring molten lead into the Chimera’s mouth.
Today the only travelers’ assistance provided by the flames is the ease of brewing tea for hikers along the Lycian Way, which passes the spot.
The flames are most dramatic at night, of course, and luckily the forested park is open 24 hours a day, allowing visitors to hike the three kilometers (2 miles, about 45 minutes) uphill along a rough stone path to the Chimera anytime.
There’s a small admission fee to the site. A spring near the parking lot and ticket kiosk provides drinking water (bring your own bottle), but there are no services—and no water—at the flames themselves.