Xanthos Ancient City

Xanthos & Letoon Ancient Cities

Xanthos Ancient City

Xanthos is a renowned ancient city that is widely recognized for its remarkable history and ruins. Homer's records suggest that the city's history can be traced back to as early as 1200 BC. However, other historical evidence indicates that it was established around 1000-800 BC. Xanthos stood out among other Lycian cities with its several monuments built on the hillside close to the Esen stream. As the capital of the Lycian Union, Xanthos was considered one of the most important cities and an essential religious center. Many tombs and monuments have been discovered through excavations, providing valuable insights into this ancient city.

According to Herodotus, during the Persian occupation of Xanthos, the city's people chose to burn it down rather than surrender to the Persian commander Harpagos, resulting in the city's ruins. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great conquered Xanthos. After his death, the city fell under the rule of Ptolemaios in 309 BC and later under Antiochus III of Syria.

Xanthos Ancient City

Xanthos, which was the capital of Lycia during the 2nd century BC, was taken over by the Romans in 42 BC. Most of the surviving structures from that time period were constructed during the Roman Empire's rule. When the Byzantine Empire took control, the Xanthos episcopacy center became more important, resulting in the construction of many new structures. However, the city lost its significance in the 8th and 9th centuries due to Arab invasions.

One of the most significant artifacts in Anatolia is the Harpy Tomb, a tomb structure located in Lycia. The tomb features large rectangular columns that act as supports for the entire structure, resting on simple pedestals with large coverstones on top. The tomb is believed to belong to Kybernis, who died during the Battle of Salamis in 479 BC. The reliefs found on the surface of the Harpy monument were taken to England by Charles Fellows in 1842 and are now located in the British Museum.

The Nereid Monument is widely considered to be the most famous Lycian tomb and was likely constructed for Arbinas, King of Lycia, and his family. This classical period sculpture takes the form of a Greek temple and is situated on a floor adorned with sculpted friezes. It is known as the Nereid Monument due to the depiction of 12 female figures positioned between the columns. This monument was built to honor the memory of a beloved daughter. The Nereid Monument was taken to England by Charles Fellows and can now be viewed in the 17th hall of the British Museum.

The theatre in Xanthos was constructed during the Hellenistic Period and later underwent renovations during the Roman era. With a seating capacity of 2200, it remains an impressive structure.

The stage building, an example of Roman architecture, includes entrances to the vault and semicircle orchestra.

To the north of the theatre lies the Roman Agora, an open square area surrounded by porches on all sides.

Letoon Ancient City

Letoon was more than just a venue for national festivals - it was also where rulers made significant religious and political announcements to the public in written form.

Letoon Ancient City

One of Letoon's standout features is its stone inscriptions, which contain the longest and most significant scripts in the Lycian language. In 1973, the discovery of an inscription written in three languages stunned the world of antiquity. In addition to the temples dedicated to Leto, Apollo, and Artemis, visitors can explore a monastery and the ruins of a Roman Theater.

Letoon comprises three temples: Leto Temple, Apollo Temple, and Artemis Temple. The largest of the three is Leto Temple, which was built in peripteros style on the west side and measures 30.25 meters by 15.75 meters.

On the east side of the site stands the Apollo Temple, designed in the Doric style and resembling Lycian tombs. Notably, the foundation remains boast a timber structure.

Although smaller than the other two temples, Artemis Temple is still a remarkable structure, measuring 18.20 meters by 8.70 meters.

In 1988, both Xanthos and Letoon were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.