Explore The Turquoise Coast
North of Olympos, the eternal flames of the Chimaera (alias Yanartaş) are about an hour’s stroll from Çıralı village; it’s also possible to drive to the bottom of the ascent and walk from the car park (about 20min). The trailhead is well signposted, though the path up (part of the inland alternate Lycian Way) consists of garishly field-stoned steps with odd heights, on its way to a Byzantine chapel and tholos of Hephaestos as well as the flame. The climb is most rewarding (and coolest) at dusk, since the fire is best seen after dark; most Olympos-valley treehouse-lodges organize nocturnal visits for a nominal fee.
It’s not certain what causes the phenomenon of clustered flames sprouting from cracks on the bare hillside; analysis reveals traces of methane in the gas but otherwise its make-up is unique. The flames can be extinguished temporarily if covered, when a gaseous smell is noticeable, but will spontaneously re-ignite. They have been burning since antiquity, and inspired local worship of Hephaestos (Vulcan), generally revered wherever fire or lava issued forth. The region was also home to a fire-breathing monster with a lion’s head and forelegs, a goat’s rear end, and a snake tail: the Chimaera. Its silhouette, incidentally, has long been the logo of the Petrol Ofisi chain of Turkish filling stations.