XANTHOS LETO PATARA

Atop a rock outcrop at Kınık are the ruins of ancient Xanthos, once the capital and grandest city of Lycia, with a fine Roman theater and pillar tombs.  A short uphill walk brings you to the city gates and the plinth where the fabulous Nereid Monument of sea-nymphs (now in the British Museum in London) once stood.  For all its grandeur, Xanthos endured a checkered history of wars and destruction.  At least twice, when besieged by clearly superior enemy forces, the city's population committed mass suicide.  Although the acropolis is badly ruined, the Roman theater and market can still be seen.  Most of the inscriptions and decorations visible today are copies of the originals that were unceremoniously carted off to London by Charles Fellows in 1842.  Xanthos still possesses some beautiful mosaics, the attractive Dancers' Sarcophagus and Lion Sarcophagus, as well as several excellent rock tombs.

Sharing a place with the Lycian capital at Xanthos on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites, Letoön is home to some of the finest Lycian ruins.  Letoön was built as a religious sanctuary dedicated to Leto who, according to mythology, was Zeus' lover and bore him both Apollo and Artemis.  Unimpressed, Zeus' wife, Hera, demanded that Leto spend eternity wandering from country to country.  According to local folklore, she passed much time in Lycia and became the national deity.  The core of Letoön's ruins consists of three temples standing side-by-side and dedicated to Apollo, Artemis, and Leto herself.  The Temple of Apollo has a fine mosaic showing a lyre, a bow and arrow, and a floral center.  The permanently flooded and highly atmospheric nymphaeum (an ornamental fountain dedicated to the water nymphs) is inhabited by frogs who, folklore claims, were originally shepherds who refused Leto a drink from the fountain and were punished for their lack of hospitality.  Just to the north of Letoön's main temple complex is a large Hellenistic theater dating from the second century BCE.

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