The Chimera (Yanartaş), the eternal flames on a rocky mountainside above Çıralı village near Olimpos, Turkey (map), is a fascinating natural phenomenon: about a dozen flames issue from a mass of rock with no apparent fuel to sustain them.
The flames are burning a sort of methane gas that has been venting from the earth on this rocky slope for thousands of years.
In ancient times, mariners passing by along the Mediterranean coast below used the bright flames as a landmark on their voyage.
|The stone path to the Chimera.|
Today the only travelers’ assistance provided by the flames is the ease of brewing tea for hikers along the Lycian Way,which passes the spot.
The flames are most dramatic at night, of course, and luckily the forested park is open 24 hours a day, allowing visitors to hike the three kilometers (2 miles, about 45 minutes) uphill along a rough stone path to the Chimera anytime.
There’s a small admission fee to the site. A spring near the parking lot and ticket kiosk provides drinking water (bring your own bottle), but there are no services—and no water—at the flames themselves.
—by Tom Brosnahan