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The ruins of Phaselis, the ancient port city majestically located at the edge of three smalls bays, are as romantic as the reputation of its ancient inhabitants was appalling: Demosthenes the Greek called them unsavory, and Roman statesman Cicero called them rapacious pirates. Since the first Greek colonists from Rhodes bought the land from a local shepherd in the 7th century BC for a load of dried fish, classical literature is replete with the expression "a present from the Phaselians," meaning a cheap gift. Still, the setting is beautiful and Alexander the Great spent a whole winter here before marching on to conquer the east. A broad main street, flanked by some remarkably well-preserved buildings, cuts through the half-standing walls of the Roman agora. At each end of this main street is a different bay, both with translucent water ideal for swimming. A third bay, to the north, has great harbor stones carved by the ancients, and is less likely to be disturbed by tour boats.
A small theater with trees growing among the seats has a divine view of Mt. Olympos, and fine sarcophagi are scattered throughout a necropolis in the pine woods that surround the three bays. The ruins are poetic and impressive, ideal for a picnic or a day at the beach, but weekends and high season days can be crowded and downright depressing when tour yachts from Antalya arrive with loudspeakers blaring. For some reason the refreshment stands at Phaselis are in a legal limbo; today's pirates of Phaselis are the men selling overpriced drinks under the trees, so bring your own.
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