Kemer was the ancient Greek city of Idyros, later named Eski Köy (Old Village). In 1916 – 1917, a long stone wall was built in 1916 – 1917 to channel mountain water and serve as a flood prevention barrier and the town was renamed to Kemer.
Until the 1960s the town was only accessible by boat, and in the 1980s a further investment in the town’s infrastructure was made, with the aim of developing the area for tourism.
One of the foremost charms of Kemer is its natural environment; the sea, mountains and pine forests. Here are some of the wonders that the area Kemer has to offer:
Göynük Canyon, or Göynük Kanyonu in Turkish, is a located inside the Beydağları Coastal National Park. The 4.5km canyon is part of Lycian Way and accessible by either a 45-minute walk from the village of Göynük or off-road vehicle, which can be rented in the village. Inside the canyon you will find waterfalls and ponds. There are companies who offer a canyoning experience, which can include activities such as teaching you how to abseil down a waterfall!
Phaselis was an ancient Greek and Roman city, located north of the modern town of Tekirova, between the Bey Mountains and the forests of Olympos National Park.
The town was set up by the Rhodians in 700 BC and due to it was the most important harbour city of eastern Lycia. The city was seized by Persians after they conquered Asia Minor, and later by Alexander the Great.
After the death of Alexander, the city stayed in Egyptian hands until 197 BC. Phaselis, like Olympos, was under constant threat from pirates in the 1st century BC, and the city was even captured by the pirate Zekenites for a short period until he was overthrown by the Romans. In the 3rd century AD, the harbour fell under the threat of pirates once more and slowly began to lose its importance, until its demise in the 11th century.
There are three harbours: the ‘Northern Harbour’, the ‘Battle Harbour’ and the ‘Protected (Sun) Harbour’ and a 24 metre-wide ancient street which runs through the centre of the city. The ‘Hadrian Waterway Gate’ is on the south side. There are ruins of shops and public places, such as Roman baths, agoras and theatres. These structures are dated to the 2nd century BC.
Olympos was another ancient city in Lycia, located south of the modern town Çıralı and part of the Olympos National Park. It is unknown when the city was first established, however a wall and an inscription on a sarcophagus have been dated to the end of the 4th century BC.
The city is thought to take its name from nearby Mount Olympos, or Tahtalı Dağı in Turkish, which means Timber Mountain. The ruins of the ancient city end in a valley, where you can find several pensions and guest houses.
A short drive from Olympos, is a small province called Yanartas, meaning Flaming Stone in Turkish, and precisely defines the naturally occurring features of the area. In Yanartas you will find a dozen small fires that burn continuously all year long, appearing from naturally created vents in the rocks.
Immediately below these fires are the ruins of the Temple of Hephaistos, blacksmith to the gods. To see the fires and the ruins, there is a one kilometre climb. The fires are fuelled by gas emissions, which have been burning for at least 2500 years, and become more active in winter months.
The town of Kemer itself is now a thriving tourist area, with a number of clubs, bars and restaurants, blue flag beaches and a 320 capacity yacht marina. Annual events include art exhibitions, boat races, WRC (World Rally Championship), Turkey Offshore Championship, Turkey Motocross Championship, and The Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, Cumhurbaşkanlığı Bisiklet Turu, is held here each spring.