The area of Fethiye has seen the rise and fall of many great civilizations; and for this reason, the surrounding area is full of fascinating ancient sites offering you an immersive experience in the history of Fethiye and ancient Lycia. One such spot is Letoon, a small settlement just by the ancient site of Xanthos.

Letoon’s Historical Significance

This small settlement, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was never fully inhabited, but rather served as a spiritual centre of Lycia. So instead of functioning as a commercial town, Letoon held national festivals and religious ceremonies. The Lycians dedicated this centre to three deities of Lycia: Leto and her twin children Apollo and Artemis.

The Ruins Today

Today, you can still see the ruins of the three temples of Leto, Apollo and Artemis. The temple of Leto, the largest of the three, remains in excellent condition and is considered one of the best preserved ancient temples in the world.

In addition to the three temples, a nymphaeum with a sacred spring remains and was most likely the site of many religious ceremonies. This nymphaeum was constructed in the Hellenistic period, along with the amphitheatre. Though the seats of the amphitheatre remain in good condition, carved into the sloped hillside, there are no remnants of a stage. This amphitheatre differs from others as it did not hold the regular plays and entertainment of the time, but rather religious ceremonies and performances.

Taking a turn from the prevalent pagan worship of the settlement, excavators found the remains of a Basilica built around the 6th century by a monastic group that settled in the area. The monks earned themselves the nickname “Drunken Monks” when excavators found a large amount of drinking vessels in the ruins.

Other Ruins

Though no longer at the sight, excavators also found a stone with writings in Greek, Lycian, and Aramaic. This stone has been instrumental in uncovering the Lycian language and today can be found in the Fethiye Museum in the centre of Fethiye.

How to Get There

You could rent a car and visit Letoon, Xanthos and Tlos all in one day. Or perhaps you are traveling on a budget, or you just wish to go on a bit more of an adventure. Make a day of it: pack a lunch filled with water and fresh, yummy Fethiye produce, and hop on the dolmuş heading to Kulmuova-Karadere. Tell the driver you want to go to Kulmuova and relax for the hour it takes to get there. Once there, your driver, most likely noticing you are not from the area, will probably point out the sign for Letoon to you and you are on your way!

From there, you can walk to Letoon and on to Xanthos, walking part of the Lycian way and really immersing yourself in the rich history of this area.

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