Olimpos - Olympos - Kamera - Chimera

A Guide to Olympos 5: Chimera, Kimera, or Yanartaş

The Story of the Unquenchable Fire

Author: Said Dağlı

Olympos is not a place just to swim in and out of the sea and then lie down and rest all day. At least, we did not see Olympos as such a place. We put on our walking shoes, checked the batteries and storages of our cameras, took our food and drinks with us, did trekking, and took pictures. We devoted this fourth part of our article series to Chimera Yanartaş, one of the historical and natural beauties of Olympos, in which we did what we intended to.

Yanartaş, Chimera, Chimaera or Kimera

Chimera (or Chimaera, Chimæra) is Yanartaş in Turkish. This place is not actually in Olympos, but in the neighboring town of Çıralı. But since it is a place that shares the same historical and mythical background and hosts a truly extraordinary natural event, we definitely wanted to see it. So, we bought our tickets with excitement.

The tour agency we joined was organizing Yanartaş (Chimera) tour every evening from 9 to 12. In this three-hour program, we could only see the burning stones for 15 minutes. The minibus journey from Olympos to Yanartaş takes 2 hours back and forth. In addition, to see the unquenchable fire, we had to climb up and back one kilometer. Therefore, we can say that most of the tour was spent on the road. If you are going with your own vehicle, there is no problem. But if you will go to Çıralı Yanartaş from Olympos with a tour, keep this information in mind.

Chimera & Kimera Olimpos Olympos Çıralı
Photo: Said Dağlı

The Magnificent Milky Way

One of the most impressive element of our trip to the Yanartaş was the clear sky unspoiled by the civic lights. We set out with a team of about 15 people consisting of domestic and foreign tourists. About 10 people had lanterns in their hands. When we got away from this team and were alone, we turned off our lantern and looked at the sky. With no artificial light source nearby, we marveled at the magnificent view of the Milky Way in the moonless sky. My only regret is that we didn’t think to take the camera out of the bag and take a photo of the sky there. Let’s say, to the next time…

The Legend of Chimera

We hear about Chimera in Homer’s Iliad. “He was of divine lineage, not human. It was a lion in front, a snake in the back, and a goat in the middle. Together, he exhaled with terrible wisdom: the power of flaming fire.”

Lycian King commissions Bellerophon to kill this beast which bothers people for quite some time. The real intention of the king, on the other hand, is the death of Bellerophon, whom he wants to punish, by fighting with the Chimera. However, with the help of the gods, Bellerophon was victorious in this fight.

Bellerophon, riding the famous winged and unicorn Pegasus, hits the soaring Chimera with his lead-tipped spear. At that time, the Chimera spews fire from her mouth, and with the heat of the fire, the lead at the tip of the spear melts and kills the Chimera. This creature is buried under the ground, but the fire it emits leaks from the crevices under the ground and reaches the earth seven floors above. These flames, that we saw in Yanartaş, survives to the present day.

According to a legend, the runners participating in the race organized to celebrate the victory of Bellerophon ignite their torches with this Chimera fire in Çıralı and run to the city of Olympos. It is rumored that the Olympic torch, a tradition that has survived until today, comes from the unquenchable fire of this Chimera.

Kimera Chimera Sönmeyen Ateş Olimpos
Photo: Ayşenur Dağlı

Scientific Explanation of the Unquenchable Fire

Let me give a summary for those who are curious about the scientific explanation of this fire that burns on its own and never goes out:

Previously, it was thought that an underground natural gas leak caught fire with lightning or a similar natural phenomenon. It was a logical explanation for the flame, which has been in this region for many years, showing itself through these openings, some of which were closed and new ones opened. However, seven or eight years ago, one of the researchers of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome, Dr. The work of Giuseppe Etiope and his colleague Artur Ionescu from Babes-Bolyai University discovered that the source of this energy is methane, not natural gas.

For those who want to learn more, there is a short article about it in Evrim Ağacı’s website: Sönmeyen Ateş Yanartaş’ın Sırrı Sonunda Çözüldü!

WARNING: Don’t Forget Your Flashlight and Whistle While Climbing to Chimera/Yanartaş

What did we have in our bag during our trip to Olympos? What did we take with us, what did we regret for not taking? I wrote a separate article about this. But while we’re on the subject, let me warn you. If you are going to Chimera/Yanartaş at night and you are a bit of an adventure spirit, be sure to bring a hand or headlight (with spares if possible) and a strong whistle (or any other device that can make a strong sounds) for emergencies. Do not say, “We will not go at night anyway, we will go towards the evening”, it may get dark by the time you get off.

Kimera Chimera Sönmeyen Ateş Olimpos
Photo: Said Dağlı

List of Posts in “A Guide to Olympos”

We wanted to describe our trip to Olympos with Ayşenur in a series of articles in diKraft, and to convey our experiences as a guide for those who wish to come here. You can find all the articles of this series from the list below.

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