Ancient Xanthos (Xanthos)


To the east of Fethiye is the historical center of ancient Lycia and one of the largest archaeological zones in Turkey is the Xanthos river valley (Eschen, or Kojachai). The low green mountains, so reminiscent of the landscapes of Greece, store many archaeological sites here, including two ancient citadel cities of Tlos and Pinara, as well as the mysterious settlement of Sidima, dozens and hundreds of burial grounds, nearby Letona shrines and Pidna fortress.

One of the most ancient cities of Lycia, Tlos is located 45 kilometers east of Fethiye, near the modern village of Asarkale. The city was founded around the 20th century BC. e., and in the Hittite chronicles of the XIV century BC. e. already referred to as "Dalava in the country of Lucca." He was one of the six main cities of Lycia, its sports and military center, and bore the title of "the most brilliant metropolis of the Lycian Union." Over the next centuries, different peoples settled here, so by now many ruins can no longer be identified - so many times they were rebuilt in accordance with the views of the new owners. The ruins of the Ottoman fortress, the residence of the robber and local leader Kanla Ali-aga (XIX century), are now occupied by the hill of the former acropolis; fragments of the acropolis are visible only in the northeast side. The northeastern city gates, a cobblestone staircase to the main cemetery, located just below the more ancient necropolis with the tomb of the legendary Greek hero Bellerophon (Hipponoy) with its bas-relief on top of Pegasus and numerous “funeral houses” of the 4th century BC are also relatively well preserved. e. - II century AD e., the ruins of the stadium, the amphitheater, the arcade of the market hall with internal galleries, the ruins of the Roman gymnasium, therms, some of which were rebuilt by the Byzantines in the basilica, inside which are the Edi-Kapy ("Seven Gate" - a beautiful rotunda overlooking the valley) and a magnificent theater II century BC e.

9 km from Tlos and 44 km from Fethiye is the most picturesque part of the Xanthos Valley - the gorge Saklikent (Saklikent). The mouth of the gorge is deceptively invisible - a narrow gap in the rock 150 meters from the bridge over the river. But behind it begins the stunningly beautiful battlements of the canyon, ending at the sources of Gokcesu and Ulupinar (Gokcesu, Ulupinar). It is believed that these ever-bubbling springs serve as the outlet for all groundwater accumulated in the Akdag stratum, so the pressure of clean water (even trout is found here) is impressive, and floods are frequent in winter (some restaurants above the cascade were destroyed by one of these floods and never recovered ) Above the sources, the abyss stretches another 18 km upwards, although this section will be of interest only to climbers (2 km upstream the channel is blocked by large boulders). Therefore, this beautiful place is used as a popular route for traveling through canyons, in which you can not only relax by the water, but also pass fairly serious rocky sections (total travel time is about 18 hours).

Ancient Enoanda (Oenoanda, "Wine City") lies about 50 km northeast of Tlos. It was one of the northernmost and most mountainous (1350-1450 m) cities of Lycia, still retaining many of its ancient elements due to relative inaccessibility. The history of the city is poorly studied, it is only known that in the III century BC. e. here was the southernmost center of Tetrapolis of Lycia, and in the 2nd century AD e. Diogenes was born here. Since the discovery by a group of British archaeologists in 1996, the city has not been excavated, and now it is a vast stretch of rather randomly standing ancient ruins covered with thickets of juniper, oak and cedar, visited only by random hunters or shepherds.

About 45 km southeast of Fethiye, right from highway No. 400 to Patara, at the foot of Mount Akdag, the ruins of ancient Pinara (Pinara, Pinara) are clearly visible. According to legend, the city was founded by the Cretans in the V century BC. e., and its favorable mountain climate, the abundance of forests and its favorable position on the top of the mountain (600 meters above sea level) contributed to its rapid development - already in the III century BC. e. he becomes one of the largest cities of Lycia, minting his own coin and having three votes in the council of the Lycian Federation. The acropolis crowning the rounded hill seems to have given the city its name - "Pinara" in the Lycian language meant "round hill". Now here, east of the main site, lies the bulk of the ruins, including numerous rock graves, so characteristic of that period. On the eastern side of the hill of the acropolis is the so-called Tsar’s grave, famous for its unique bas-reliefs on the walls and a tall sarcophagus inside.

A little above there is an interesting crypt with a roof in the form of a Gothic arch or cowholes, just north of which, under the canopy of a pine forest, the massive base of the temple of the unknown deity barely rises. Further south, the path passes between the ruins of the acropolis, odeon, the temple of Aphrodite with its amazing columns in the shape of a heart, then through the chaos of walls, columns and graves. At the far south end of this small plateau stands a small artificial terrace with a church located on it and many ruins not yet identified. A strange in shape and almost intact tower rises above the terrace, which is considered either a grave or a prison of the upper citadel. From the terrace, the path runs to the bottom of the canyon, passing dozens of large rock graves and a source of clear water.

To the north-east of the city lies a well-preserved theater, easily accessible by a specially marked track. In addition to the theater itself, from this point the general plan of the ancient city is very clearly visible, because of its graves and residential caves more similar to the head of Swiss cheese (many caves at the beginning of our era were inhabited by Christians, although the total local population was never high).

The most remote of the ancient cities of Lycia, Sidima lies near a small village Dodurga (Dodurga), already almost outside the valley itself. Contrary to popular belief, this is a rather interesting site, surrounded by amazingly beautiful scenery. Like most of the ancient cities of the region, Sidima was discovered by Europeans in the middle of the 19th century and has since been practically not excavated, so the city appears in the very form in which it met our days. The mosque occupies a site of ancient terms, the columns of which were used during construction. The extremely ruined castle of the Byzantine period is crowned by a hill in the north. Near its walls lies a half-overgrown ancient cemetery. Near the center of the plain lies a group of wonderful graves with antique bas-reliefs on arches and walls. Another spectacular necropolis with a huge and well-preserved heroon (temple mausoleum) lies at the foot of a low mountain range outside the field area. All other city structures will have to be searched on their own - many of them are barely visible from the ground and are not marked in any way.

The shrine of the goddess Leto (mother of Apollo and Artemis) and one of the largest cities of Lycia, Letoon was the official religious center and meeting place of the council of the Lycian Federation. The city was founded in time immemorial - already in the Hellenistic period it was considered one of the oldest in the region, although most of the buildings that have survived date back to the turn of the millennium. Messengers from all over Oikumena came here, Alexander of Macedon himself brought rich gifts to the temple (it was after the revelation of the local oracle that he decided to go to Persia). In the Roman period, it was one of the cult centers of the empire, and after the decline of the federation, Christianity quickly changed its ancient beliefs. The city flourished until the Arab raids of the 7th century AD, but then quickly fell into decay and was forgotten until 1840, and excavations began only in 1962, but they are carried out quite systematically and thoroughly. As a result, Letoon (often spelled Letoona) is gradually turning into one of the most interesting historical centers of the region. And in 1988, the entire complex was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a unique example of ancient culture.

The excavation site (open daily: in summer - from 8.00 to 19.30, in winter - from 8.30 to 17.00, entrance - 4 YTL) covers the entire territory of temples dedicated to Summer, Apollo and Artemis (all - IV-I centuries BC) , a nymphaeum with a swimming pool with a diameter of 27 meters (it is interesting that an inscription was found on the walls of one of the porticoes defining the conditions for entering the shrine - simple clothes, the absence of rich jewelry, complex hairstyles and so on - the first dress code in history!), partially flooded the waters of Lake Agoru (III century BC), a large and well-preserved Hellenistic theater from the sixteenth Strongly plaques (each - a typical theatrical mask of Greek style), and an interesting Roman burial nearby. The archaeological site lies 16 km south of Pinar, near the village Kumluova (Kumluova).

And 7 km southwest of Letoon, almost on the seashore, is an ancient fortress Pidna (Pydnae, not to be confused with Pida in Macedonia), considered one of the best-preserved Greek coastal fortresses in the region.

The ruins of the mountainous city of Xanthos are famous for their breathtaking panoramas that open from here to the Escher Valley. Founded in the XII century BC. e. the city during its long history was repeatedly destroyed and rose again from the ashes, and the courage of its defenders became proverbs of both the Persians and the Romans. Unfortunately, the raids of the Arabs in the 7th century AD e. forced residents to leave this ancient capital of Lycia, and many historical relics were taken to the UK in the 19th century (the famous sculpture of the Nereids of the 4th century BC, for example, is now in the British Museum along with many other monuments and sculptures).

However, there are many ruins of the II century BC. e. - III century AD e. worthy of a visit: the monumental arch of Vespasian and the adjacent gates of the Greek period (the inscription on them says that Antiochus the Great dedicated the city of Leto, Apollon and Artemis), a memorial plaque on the site of the Nereida temple, the acropolis, the royal palace, agora and the Roman theater, so the tomb of Harpy, the Lycian sarcophagus (3rd century BC) and the so-called obelisk of Xanthos (the ruins of the grave of 480-470 BC, whose pedestal is covered on all four sides by the longest known Lycian inscription - 250 lines !), Aslan mausoleum and the Byzantine city wall whom period.

To the east of the car park, south of the so-called Last Agora (there are several such complexes of different times in the city), the Byzantine basilica rises with beautiful mosaics, which are considered the best in western Turkey. On the hill north of it rises the Roman Acropolis, on the eastern side of which you can find many separate burials and a well-preserved Early Byzantine monastery with an open courtyard and thermae.

The archaeological zone lies 65 km east of Fethiye, in one of the hottest places in the region, so it is better to plan a visit in the morning or evening.

Kid resume

Reading information about Fethiye, you will certainly come across a mention of the Lycian Union, and upon arrival at this Turkish resort you will see the remains of ancient buildings. But if you are interested in the history of the ancient world, be sure to visit one of the Lycian cities - Xanthos. Such an excursion will be especially useful for a child studying history: it will help to supplement the dry textbook with vivid impressions.

Xanthos, or Xanthos, was the largest city of the state of Lycia, which existed in the II-I millennium BC. e. Today, the ruins of Xanthos, together with the Letoon sanctuary, which is located 4 km from the city, are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The city was discovered in the XIX century during excavations by the British archaeologist Charles Fellow. Many archaeological finds in Xanthos enriched the treasury of the British Museum. In particular, the "Nereid Monument" and the "Harpy Monument" were taken there. But one of the most significant finds is still rising in its place. This is the Lycian-Milean stele, a monument to the Lycian script, thanks to which scientists were able to find the key to deciphering texts in the dead language.

Xanthos has experienced destruction more than once. Including the city was burned to the ground in 545 BC. e. the inhabitants themselves, who did not want to surrender to the enemy Persian army under the leadership of Harpagos. Sad pun: best of all the destructive influence of wars and fires survived the tombs - carved in the rocks or set on an elevated semblance of residential buildings. However, it will be possible to inspect the remains of other structures of the ancient city: the Roman Acropolis, the Byzantine basilica, agora, amphitheater, palace, and a wide paved road. Partially preserved even the water supply and water tank. In total, on the map of Xanthos, which is located on the information stand, about 30 objects are marked.

Since Xanthos rises above the Xanthus River Valley (modern name is Eschen), it offers a wonderful view of green meadows, a river, mountains in the distance and a small village. In the village you can have a tasty and inexpensive lunch.

If a walk through the ruins did not bore you, try to visit Letoon. This is the sanctuary of the goddess Leto and her children, Apollo and Artemis (before the trip it will be useful to re-read the myths of Ancient Greece). Once there were several temples here, but as a result of the raids of the Arabs-conquerors, they were destroyed to the ground. Now, only fragments of columns and friezes with skillful carvings lie on the site of buildings, and in the grass you can see the foundations of structures and fragments of floor mosaics. Note that excavations on the territory of Letoon began only in 1962, and subsequently it is planned to reconstruct the ancient sanctuary.

Basic information

Ancient Xanthos is the ancient capital of the Lycian Federation and one of the greatest cities in the history of the region.

Judging by the age of archaeological finds on its territory, the city was founded in the VIII century BC. However, it is possible that Xanthos existed already in the Bronze Age or at the beginning of the Iron Age.

The city is located on top of a hill in a valley that gave it its name. Today, near the village is located Kynyk. From the hill of Xanthos, a beautiful view of the valley opens, surrounded by the picturesque Toros mountains.

The history of Xanthos is quite tragic. For a long time, the city remained independent, until it was conquered by the Persians. Before giving the last battle to the Persians invading their land, the Xanthos warriors burned their women, children and slaves on the Acropolis. Herodotus described this in his writings, calling the inhabitants of the city unusually bold.

Between 475 and 450 BC the city was burned to the ground. Restored and resettled, Xanthos, along with other Lycian cities, surrendered to Alexander the Great, and after his death passed into the hands of the Ptolemaic dynasty.

In 197 BC Emperor Antiochus III, who wanted to take Lycia from the Ptolemies, concluded an agreement with the inhabitants of the city. According to him, Xanthos was considered free, and its inhabitants were supposed to worship the goddess Leto, as well as Apollo and Artemis.

After the defeat of Antiochus III, Rome gave Xanthos to the Rhodossians. Feeling like slaves, the citizens of Xanthos rebelled repeatedly, and in 167 BC Rome put an end to the rule of Rhodes. During the Roman civil wars in the 1st century BC the Lycians fought on the side of Caesar against Pompey.

After the assassination of Caesar in Rome and the refusal of the Lycians to pay indemnities, Brutus attacked Xanthos and destroyed the army of Lycian soldiers. The second time in the history of the city, in 42 BC, the inhabitants of Xanthos committed mass suicide.Brutus was struck by this act and ordered his soldiers to reward the surviving inhabitants of Xanthos, of whom there were only 150 people.

Emperor Mark Anthony, hoping to heal the scars inflicted by Brutus, rebuilt the city. In the Byzantine era, the city walls were restored in Xanthos and a monastery was erected. So the city lasted until the VIII century. Then, destroyed by the raids of the Arabs, Xanthos was empty.

The ruins of this great city were discovered in 1838 by Sir Charles Fellows. Despite the fact that the researcher took all the ancient reliefs and many archaeological finds to London, quite a lot of interesting monuments and structures, including two interesting Lycian tombs, have been preserved here.

The first of these is the Tomb of the Harpy. This sarcophagus, dating from 480-470 BC, consists of a huge block of carved stone 8.87 meters high and a small burial chamber decorated with once magnificent reliefs depicting harpies. The original reliefs are today in the British Museum, but they are replaced by pretty good copies.

The second tomb is completely unique to Lycia. In it, two tombs are connected into one: the usual Lycian sarcophagus is located on an older tomb decorated with columns. The appearance of this building dates back to the 4th century BC.

Another important monument is the “Xanthos Obelisk” - a tall tomb with a column decorated with an inscription in the Lycian language, the longest of all existing. At one time, this inscription played an important role in solving the riddle of the complex Lycian language.

Among other attractions of the city you can see the ancient theater, the Roman arch, the ruins of the market square, a necropolis with tombs and sarcophagi typical of Lycia, a Byzantine church with a delightful mosaic floor, and an ancient monastery on a hilltop.