Chimera, once ornated with a Temple of Hephaistos, the Roman Vulcan and god of fire, is now known by its Turkish name Yanartaş, meaning “burning mountain”. This is where the famous Bellerophon defeated the Chimera, a mythical fire-breathing being, partly lion, partly goat, partly snake, with the aid of his winged horse Pegasus. The Chimera may have been an important religious place of pilgrimage, dedicated to the blacksmith god – the legend going back to 1200 BC at least. The Chimera is the place where gases from the entrails of the earth escapes through cracks and holes in the rock and spontaneously start burning when in contact with the outside air. It is said that in antiquity the flames were higher and brighter, an ideal beacon for the seafarers. Alexander definitely must have seen this "fire mountain" in the shade of Mount Climax where the waves bowed to him.
Once again, I am the first visitor of the day. Originally, I planned to visit Olympos first and walk up to the Chimera from there, but I think it is wiser to do the climbing before the heat of the day picks up. According to my Sunflower Guide the trip should take me between 20 and 30 minutes, at first ascending over a track and then over a stepped, well-maintained footpath through pine forests, following the red and white flashes of the Lycian Way. This information is entirely correct. The Lycian Way runs over a distance of more than 500 kilometers all across Lycia. It is comforting to know that this is not an isolated trail and I am glad I took my walking stick to help me up the high steps.
A big rock along the trail carries a red painted message “400 m” and I wonder what it means. Have I climbed to a height of 400 meters, have I walked 400 meters of the trail, or it is still 400 meters to the first flames? It surely has something to do with the Lycian Way running over this path, but that does not solve this enigma. Well, whatever. I scramble and groan my way further upwards and quite suddenly I reach an open rock space where I see the first flames. I don’t remember what I had in mind but the flames are definitively brighter and bigger than I expected. Strange things in the landscape, that’s for sure!
By now more visitors are reaching the flames. Time for me to turn around! Going down is much easier although I have to move with care as the steps are higher than you would think. Back at the parking space I wonder if I could have some tea. This is Turkey after all, isn’t it? Yes, I can if I can wait that is for they just started the fire. I look at a kind of wood-burning stove with a high stovepipe and three (tea?) pots hanging from the hooks around it. A strange contraption that I don’t try to figure out. I settle for ice cream instead.