Xanthos & Letoon

Xanthos

On Unesco’s World Heritage List since 1988, was in Lycian history the capital and the greatest city of the Lycian Federation. The ancient site is situated near the village Kınık between Fethiye and Kaş atop an elevated area which offers a magnificent view of Xanthos valley and the Taurus Mountains.

On the site you can find many interesting things such as the Harpy Thomb, a Xanthian Obelisque, a Byzantine church with well-preserved mosaic floors, a Roman amphitheatre and arch and at the top of the acropolis a fortress.

The history of Xanthos is quite a violent one. The Lycians demolished their Xanthian acropolis, killed their wives, children and slaves, then proceeded on a suicidal attack against the superior Persian troops. Except for 80 families who were absent during the fighting the entire population perished.

Later Xhantos was repopulated but the same gruesome story repeated itself in 42 BC when Brutus attacked the city in order to raise money and recruit troops. His soldiers were offered a reward for each Xanthosian saved because Brutus was shocked by the extensive suicide. Only 150 citizens were rescued.

LetoonXanthos, on Unesco’s

Letoon

Less than 10 km from Xanthos there is Letoon, once one of the most religious centers of the Lycia region. As a sacred cult center it was dedicated to three national deities – Leto and her twin children Artemisia and Apollo.

Some features of the ancient side of Letoon include:

  • In the center are side by side the foundations of three temples, each dediciated to one of the three deities mentioned above.
  • A nymphaeum connected to a sacred spring, always full of frogs and terrapins.
  • The entrance of the nice amphitheatre has an interesting carving of a row of sixteen masks.
  • Remains of a Byzantine church with nearby a mosaic fragment.
  • Some tombs including a sarcophagus decorated with lion heads.

 Both sites are not so far from Patara and could easily be combined with a trip to the beach and ruins there.