Unique Culture

A Trip to Xanthos and Letoon While Sailing Turkey

By MedSailors Crew
on  January 20, 2014

Sailing Turkey - Xanthos Ruins

The double site of Xanthos and Letoon is seen as one of the most remarkable and important archaeological sites in Turkey. The centre of Lycia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, the spot is a popular one for anyone sailing Turkey who is looking for something beyond the usual bars and bazaars.

Found just a short distance from Kas and Patara, Xanthos was the capital of Lycia while Letoon, only eight kilometres away, was its sacred centre. The site dates as far back as the 8th century BC and is strategically placed upon a hilltop which today affords it fantastic views, especially during the clear, leafy months of early summer.

Naturally, however, it is the archaeological wonder of the sites themselves that draws in the crowds. Visitors can explore a range of tombs, stunning mosaics and an amphitheatre, with more constantly being uncovered thanks to the efforts and excavations of a French archaeological team.

Attractions of particular renown include the Harpy Tomb, which, at 7.5 metres high, towers above the ruins. A thick pillar decorated with intricate marble carvings, it is named after the depictions in the frieze that show winged women thought to be the harpies of ancient myth. Slightly shorter but just as unique is the Pillar Tomb, which is intricately carved and is in fact two tombs in one.

The Xanthian Obelisk is another one-of-a-kind archaeological find, inscribed on all four sides with what is the longest Lycian script known to exist.

Other ruins that should not be missed include the amphitheatre, which still stands nearly complete, the acropolis and the necropolis, which features a number of tombs and sarcophagi with interesting carvings and reliefs.

Related stories