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This awe-inspiring itinerary will first take you through Anatolia’s best-preserved ancient site: Termessos, and then let you enjoy the wild beauty of nature at Duden waterfall park.
An exploration of Termesso’s well-preserved ruins narrates an incredible story of resilience against human and natural elements. Since the city sits well above sea level, hiking is pretty much inevitable; but most people will agree that it is well worth it. Walking the city’s colonnaded streets coupled with a little bit of imagination and a well-spoken guide should give you an excellent impression of life in an ancient town.
The tour isn’t all history, though. Ideally, the itinerary is crafted to encapsulate Turkey’s tourist allure- an eclectic blend of rich history and nature’s aesthetics. So if you appreciate splendid natural beauty, the Duden Waterfalls will give you a much-needed overdose of just that.
Completely different from visiting ancient cities…
The city of Termessos sat in Antalya province and was built on the Taurus Mountains at an altitude of about 1050 meters above sea level. Much of its earlier history remains unknown, but it’s widely accepted that the city was founded by fierce Pisidian people (most ancient towns in the region are attributed to the Greek or Lycian civilizations), referring to themselves as the Solyms.
Despite staying on the fringes of history for most of its existence, Termessos managed to permanently etch its name in the saga of civilizations when it became one of the few cities to defy and repel Alexander the Great.
This impressive feat happened in 334 BC when the seemingly unstoppable conqueror couldn’t get past the natural barriers surrounding Termassos. After all, the city sits securely in the mountains, a feature that Alexander acknowledged when he likened it to an eagle’s nest.
The city also appears in written historical sources during its wars with the neighboring Lycian cities, Isinda and Selge, in the 2nd century BC. Termassos also seems to have enjoyed good relations with the kingdom of Pergamon.
In the Roman era, Termassos avoided war by agreeing to become a Roman ally. As such, the Roman senate granted them independent status in 71 BC, during which they enjoyed periods of prosperity.
After this, Termassos disappear from history as not much information is available on the city during the Byzantine and Christian eras. It is believed that a 5th-century earthquake destroyed its aqueduct and cut off the city’s water supply, forcing its inhabitants to evacuate.
Hiking to the ancient site of Termessos will help you better understand why Alexander the Great couldn’t conquer it- the terrain forms an impenetrable fortress that is quite challenging for a single person to get through, let alone an entire army.
Once on top, the ruins are unlike any historical location you’ll ever visit. Protected by the mountains, the city has retained enough of its original structures to make it one of the best-preserved ruins in Turkey.
On the lower city ruins, explore the remains of the Hadrian Propylaeum and the Artemis Hadrian Temple. Then, follow the path south to the pretty intact lower city walls and the city gate before reaching the lower gymnasium and baths.
From here, continue uphill through whatever remains of the city’s upper walls. Finally, walk the colonnaded street to the agora and explore its five cisterns. East of the agora lies the theatre and, arguably, the top highlight of the visit. The theater sits on a peak that offers a panoramic view of the surrounding mountain ranges and the beautiful landscape of Antalya.
From the theater, proceed to the bouleuterion and the ruins of the temples of Artemis and Zeus and at the very top of the valley explore Termessos necropolis.
After a morning of hiking among the impressive Termessos ruins, our day takes us to Duden Waterfalls. The falls and surrounding park make one of the most idyllic locations in Antalya and attract locals and tourists to experience its warm, natural embrace.
The Upper Duden Waterfall (Alexander falls) sits on the Duden River, approximately 10km from the city center. The river drops 20 m in a paradise of lush green plants against a backdrop of engraved rock tombs beneath the waterfall. For exciting views of the waterfall, explore the caves beneath.
The Lower Duden Waterfall drops near Karpuzkadiran Beach at Duden Creek. It falls 40m into the sea, creating a marvelous sight that’s even more picturesque when viewed from the nearby Genclik Park.
After the waterfalls, transfer back to your hotel.
Termessos is open every day of the week from 8 am to 7 pm.