Xanthos and Letoon

Xanthos and Letoon are among the most remarkable archaeological sites in Turkey, and have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Dating back to the 8th century BC or earlier, Xanthos was the capital city of the Lycian Federation and its greatest city for most of Lycian history. It also served as a major center of culture and commerce for the Lycians, and later for the Persians, Greeks, and Romans who conquered the city. The original Hittite and Luwian name of the city is Arñna. Xanthos is a Greek name, acquired during the Hellenistic era. Today, the city is called Kinik.

Xanthos is mentioned in several historical writings by various Greek and Roman writers. For example, in the Iliad by Homer, the Trojan War heroes Glaucus and Sarpedon are described as coming from the land of the Xanthos River, and Achilles’ immortal, talking horse is also named Xanthos. Some of the key remaining ruins that can be seen in Xanthos today include the first and second acropolis, the Roman amphitheater, the Xanthian obelisk, the so called ‘Harpy’ and ‘Pillar’ tombs, the necropolis, Roman-Byzantine street, and Byzantine basilica.

Letoon, located less than 10 km to the south of Xanthos, was a religious center and a sanctuary of Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis. Some of the key sights that have been excavated include the foundations of the Hellenistic temple dedicated to Leto, and the Letoon trilingual, an inscription in three languages – Greek, Lycian and Aramaic. Letoon is closely linked with Xanthos, as it was administered by Xanthos.


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