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Archive for October 2006

Turkey Lycian Mountains 2006

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lycia (Lycian: Trm̃misa) is a region in the modern day Antalya Province on the southern coast of Turkey. It was the site of an ancient country and province of the Roman Empire.


The region of Lycia has been inhabited by human groups since prehistoric times. The eponymous inhabitants of Lycia, the Lycians, spoke an Indo-European language, belonging to its Anatolian branch. The closest language to the Lycian language is the Luwian language, which was spoken in Anatolia during the 2nd and early 1st millennium BC; it may even be its direct ancestor. The Lycians were assimilated by Greek colonists who inhabited the region into modern times, before being assimilated by Turks. The last Greeks were displaced following the Greco-Turkish War in the early 20th century.


Lycia is a mountainous and densely forested region along the coast of southwestern Turkey on and around the Teke Peninsula. It is bounded by Caria to the west and north west, Pamphylia to the east, and Pisidia to the north east. Turkey’s first waymarked long-distance footpath, the Lycian Way, follows part of the coast of the region.

The principal cities of ancient Lycia were Xanthos, Patara, Myra and Phaselis.

Ancient Egyptian records describe the Lycians as allies of the Hittites. Lycia may have been a member state of the Assuwa league of ca. 1250 BC, appearing as either Lukka or Luqqa. After the collapse of the Hittite Empire, Lycia emerged as an independent “Neo-Hittite” kingdom.

According to Herodotus, Lycia was named after Lycus, the son of Pandion II, king of Athens. The region was never unified into a single territory in antiquity, but remained a tightly-knit confederation of fiercely independent city-states.

Lycia was frequently mentioned by Homer as an ally of Troy. In Homer’s Iliad, the Lycian contingent was said to have been lead by two esteemed warriors: Sarpedon (son of Zeus and Laodamia) and Glaucus (son of Hippolochus). Elsewhere in Greek mythology, the Lycian kingdom was said to have been ruled by another Sarpedon, a Cretan exile and brother to King Minos; Sarpedon’s followers were called Termilae, and they founded a dynasty after their conquest of a people called the Milyans. As with the founding of Miletus, this mythical story implies a Cretan connection to the settlement of Asia Minor. Lycia appears elsewhere in Greek myth, such as in the story of Bellerophon, who eventually succeeded to the throne of the Lycian king Iobates (or Amphianax).

Lycia came under the control of the Persian Empire in 546 BC when Harpagus of Media, a general in the service of Cyrus II conquered Asia Minor. Harpagus’s descendants ruled Lycia until 468 BC when Athens wrested control away. Persia then retook Lycia in 387 BC and held it until it was conquered by Alexander the Great. It subsequently passed into the hands of the Seleucids before falling to the Roman Republic in 189 BC. The heir of Augustus, Gaius Caesar, was killed there in 4 AD. In 43, the emperor Claudius annexed it to the Roman Empire and united it with Pamphylia as a Roman province. It subsequently became part of the Byzantine Empire before being overrun by the (Turkish) Ottoman Empire and eventually becoming part of Turkey.

Though the second-century CE dialogue Erotes found the cities of Lycia “interesting more for their history than for their monuments, since they have retained none of their former splendor”, many relics of the Lycians remain visible today, especially their distinctive rock-cut tombs in the sides of cliffs in the region.

Lycian tombs at Simena, Üçagiz (Turkey)


Lycian tombs at Simena, Üçagiz (Turkey)

The British Museum in London has one of the best collections of Lycian artifacts.

Lycia was an important center of worship for the goddess Leto and later, her twin children, Apollo and Artemis.

…Oh well, so much about the hard facts. Travelling does not become any easier nor any less beautiful due to the fact that Lycia has been populated since 1250 BC. As Turkish Military is told to withhold any reasonable street-maps of Turkey, comfort does end quickly after landing in Dalaman, particularly if one lands after 1 am.

Anyway, I’ve got a fully ranged map for whomever desires to invade Tloss at night.

It is drawn by a most respectable and very knowledgeable rental car agent, who does try his best to speak some non-turkish words too. But mind, the turn to Yakapark is a left turn, other than shown in this valuable document.

Mountain Lodge, in Tloss is worth an invasion, however.

mountain-lodge_11.jpg mountain-lodge.jpgmountain-lodge_12.jpgmountain-lodge_7.jpg

For those who appreciate elaborate gardening, even bananas grow in the courtyard:


The Look from the terrace of this cosy little hotel seems to make it clear why people would want to live here since the stone age:

xanthos-valley.jpg And yes, it is pouring with rain. And I mean pouring! Look the sunny pixx up in the www. There are hosts of them in any guidebook. Until you find them, I offer a look at the night sky over the Xanthos valley
xanthos-valley-night-sky.jpg xanthos-valley-night-panorama.jpg

But for sure, we did not just keep watching breathtaking skies. At handy distance up the mountain Tloss has to offer a castle towering over an excavation site with lycian tombs and even a theater:


The place once used to bear the title of “Most Splendid Metropolis of the Lycian Nation”. One would not say so, seeing the place nowadays, actually. However, the castle’s most ill famed owner was Bloody Ali (Kanli Ali Aga). That he earned his living with robbery is showing even in the walls of his castle, which are full of spoliae:

tloss-castle-wall-02.jpg And most likely he was not a fan of the roman theater nearby, as it looks somewhat decrepit. tloss-theater-panorama.jpg

As the previous pictures do leave a somehow gloomy impression about the place, some more daylight from the surrounding mountains:


A must for every tourist in the area is Saklikent Gorge. Guess why:


Amateurs of beach holidays might prefer Patara Beach to the mountains. But guess, even there is some climbing to do.

Lycian Coastpatara-dunes_1.jpgpatara-dunes.jpgpatara-panorama.jpg

That Sainta Claus is of turkish provenance one comes to learn in Myra, in case one skipped the appropriate chapter of the Legenda Aurea.myra.jpg (I did not dare to take a photo of the hideous Santa Claus monument in Myra’s market square. This too is in every tour book.)

On our way to Patara we stopped at Xanthos (s.a.) , where we did not just find antique monuments but an antique restroom too. True, even the the ramshackle theater does look more comfy although it is several hundred years older.


As I am not sure, that one can decipher the harpies on the harpy monument, I add a folcloristic version of their impressive bust as a seal to the end: Lycian HarpyCreative Commons License
Turkey Lycian Mountains 2006 von steht unter einer Creative Commons Namensnennung-Keine kommerzielle Nutzung-Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 3.0 Deutschland Lizenz.

Written by huehueteotl

October 7, 2006 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Travel, World History