L is for Lycia
Although Turkey is filled with ancient ruins and temples, one of the best areas to see these historical sites is the former region of Lycia.
Lycia existed as an independent state from 1250–546 BC in the area of present day Turkey between the bays of Antalya and Fethiye, a compact, mountainous territory along the Mediterranean Sea. Lycia has a complex history with various rulers over the years, but was granted autonomy as a protectorate (controlled and protected by) of Rome in 168 BC and remained so until becoming a Roman province in 43 AD under Emperor Claudius. In Homer’s writings, he frequently referred to Lycia as an ally of nearby Troy, located in Troad along the Aegean peninsula. (See Lycia map here.)
When we lived in Istanbul, we road tripped to see some of the ancient Lycian cities including Tlos, which I wrote about before. Tlos, perched high up on a hill overlooking the beautiful Xanthos Valley, is one of the oldest and largest settlements of Lycia. This ancient city later was inhabited by the Romans, Byzantines and eventually the Ottoman Turks, making it one of few Lycian cities to be continually inhabited until the 19th century.
At Tlos, you’ll find dozens of Lycian-era rock cut tombs and sarcophagi – some as old as the 3rd century BC. What’s interesting about the Lycian tombs is that they often were carved directly into the rocky hillside complete with slanting roofs and intricate columns. Researchers have counted about 1,085 rock-cut tombs in the entire Lycian region.
|Top left, you can see the Lycian tombs carved into the hillside and the sarcophagi below.|
(It was difficult to choose only one photo for this travel post.)
Researchers also think that the Lycians believed that the souls of their dead would be transported from these tombs to the afterworld by a sort of winged siren-like creature. That’s why the tombs often were placed along the coast or at the top of cliffs. At Tlos, in a steep cliff inaccessible by humans, is one tomb, said to be that of the Greek Mythology hero, Bellerophon and his immortal winged flying horse Pegasus.
These elaborate tombs are visually striking and should not be missed when you visit the Southwest coast of Turkey!
I’m linking this post to the monthly travel guide link up organized by Fiona, a fellow Australian blogger, at Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures. Each month features a new letter of the alphabet. This month is the letter “L.” Please pop on over to Fiona’s blog to read more travel stories!