Olympos was set up in the Hellenistic period. Coins from the city, which were printed in the second century B.C., have been found during excavations. In 100 B.C., Olympos became one of the six leading cities that had the right to vote. In the first century B.C., pirates became so fond of the city that Olympos almost became a settlement area for the pirates. In 78 B.C., the Roman commander Servilius Isaurieus drove out the pirates and added the city to Roman territory. During the Roman era, the city became very famous with the cult of the blacksmith god Vulcan (Hephaestus) in nearby Çirali, where natural gases keep a number of flames burning perpetually.
Opramoas of Rhodiapolis, who helped restore all the Lycian cities in the second century B.C., also gave a hand to Olympos. After this golden era, pirates continued to trouble the city. As a result of various attacks made by these pirates, the wealthy city became poorer and lost its significance. After this, the city survived only as a small, insignificant city.
The city enjoyed something of a revival when the knights of Venice, Genoa, and Rhodes came to spread themselves around the Mediterranean. However, the city lost all its charm after the Ottomans established superiority over the seas. Olympos was totally abandoned in the 15th century.