Although the Beldibi cave in the vicinity shows signs of pre-historic dwelling, we can trace the city of Phaselis no further back than the 7th century BC. The city was colonized by the Greeks from Rhodes, possessed three natural harbors, and was close to a richly forested region. However, as in other areas of the coast of Anatolia, there were settlements before the arrival of the Rhodeian colonists, and therefore it was probably founded first by force, or perhaps by gradual integration with the local peoples, after their initial acceptance of the colonists.
Phaselis fell into Persian hands after they took Anatolia, and later on to the hands of Alexander the Great after he defeated the Persians. Phaselis opened its doors to Alexander, admitting him as a guest. It was here that Alexander accepted many of the envoys from the cities of Pamphylia, then taking each of the coastal cities in turn, advanced to Gordion.
After the death of Alexander, the city remained in Egyptian hands from 209 BC to 197 BC, under the dynasty of Ptolomaios, and with the conclusion of the Apamea treaty, was handed over to the Kingdom of Rhodes, together with the other cities of Lycia. From 190 BC to 160 BC it remained under Rhodeian hegemony, but after 160 BC it was absorbed into the Lycian confederacy under Roman rule. Phaselis, like Olympos, was under constant threat of pirates in the 1st century BC, and the city was even taken over by the pirate Zekenites for a period until his defeat by the Romans. In 42 BC Brutus had the city linked to Rome. During the Byzantine period, the city became a bishopric, although in the 3rd century AD its convenient harbor had fallen under the threat of pirates once again. So it began to lose importance, suffering further losses at the hands of Arabs, until totally impoverished in the 11th century AD. When the Seljuks began to concentrate on Alanya and Antalya as ports, Phaselis ceased to be a port of any note.
Although the ruins are not extremely exciting, the setting is one of the most beautiful, incomparably romantic ones that can be found on this part of the Mediterranean coast. Phaselis is a city of natural harbors of which she had at least three. Near the car park is the northern harbor, next to this the naval base, and to the south the southern harbor, popular today with swimmers and yachts. The two small islets on the northern harbor were joined to the mainland by a pier which extended from the walls around the promontory. It is still possible to see the remains of this pier and the walls.
In this once favored port of ancient times, the visitors can find many ancient ruins. The remains of the aqueduct are partially standing; beyond these one can see the naval harbor road, which is linked to the northern harbor. On the road facing the southern harbor is a portal leading to the harbor, built during the reign of Hadrian. On the sides of the roads are to be found the remains of a large number of shops. Across the tree-covered site to the south of this road can be seen the commercial agora, the Domitian Agora and the later agora. Returning along the same route you pass through the Gate of Hadrian along the main road and come to the theater. The Acropolis was surrounded with walls and the theater was founded on the north-western slopes. The auditorium and skene are still identifiable, and date from Roman period.
After looking at the theater, you may continue to the harbor area and visit the inner harbor. The necropolis was situated stretching beyond the aqueduct over the steep slopes behind the harbor. There are still many graves to be seen there.
The three harbors are perfect for swimming since part of the ruins are now submerged, making swimming and snorkeling very entertaining and exciting.