Historical Site
Letoon Ruins
In Letoon

Attractive ruins in Letoon. The Lycian Way passes directly beside them


Much of the site is flooded (which doesn’t make excavation any easier!) – you’ll see some of the ruins submerged. You’ll also see a fair number of turtles who now call Letoon home.


Admission fee required to enter the site. However, much of it can be seen quite well from the adjacent road that the Lycian Way follows.


The content below includes and/or adapts material from the linked Wikipedia article:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Letoon ruins date back to the 6th century B.C. and are quite spectacular – some of the best found along the Lycian Way. Letoon was a very important religious city that was administered by nearby Xanthos. Has three note-worthy temples (of Leto, Apollo, and Artemis). The Temple of Leto is well-worth a visit to Letoon all by itself – beautifully preserved and quite striking. The amphitheater is also excellent.


Alexander the Great is believed to have visited the city.


Archaeological finds at the site, which was never a fully occupied settlement, but remained essentially a religious centre, date back to the late sixth century BCE, before the Greek cultural hegemony in Lycia, which began in the early fourth century. In earlier times, the site was probably already sacred to the cult of an earlier mother goddess— she is Eni Mahanahi in Lycia— which was superseded by the worship of Leto, joined by her twin offspring.


In Greek mythology, a claim for an early cult of Apollo in the valley of the Xanthus, unsupported by history or archeology, was provided by two myths, each connected to an eponymous “Lycus”. One sprang from the autochthonous Telchines of Rhodes and would have colonized the region at the time of Deucalion’s flood; the other Lycus was an Athenian brother of Aegeus driven from Athens, a seer who introduced the cult of Lycaean Apollo, which a folk etymology connected with Lycia and therefore made him its Athenian colonizer: see Lycus (mythology).


The foundations of the Hellenistic temple dedicated to Leto, and her children, Artemis and Apollo, have been excavated under the direction of H. Metzger from 1962. Archæologists have excavated much of the ruins; discoveries include the Letoon trilingual, bearing inscriptions in Greek, Lycian and Aramaic, which has provided crucial keys in the deciphering of the Lycian language; it is conserved in the Fethiye Museum.


The sacrosanctity of the site is the purport of an anecdote related by Appian concerning Mithridates, who was planning to cut down the trees in the sacred grove for his own purposes in his siege of the Lycian coastal city of Patara, but was warned against the sacrilegious action in a nightmare. The site remained active through the Roman period. The site was Christianised by the construction of an early church, which reused cut stone from the sanctuary, but was abandoned from the seventh century CE.

Pretty Pictures

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All photos are copyright by their respective owners and are used with permission.
  • Letoon ruins.
    Theatre at the Letoon ruins
    Photo by 
    Anna Flack
    Sept 2022
  • View of Letoon ruins
    View of Letoon ruins
    Photo by 
    Fall 2022
  • Tomb / ruins at Letoon
    Tomb / ruins at Letoon
    Photo by 
    Łukasz Ostojski
    Fall 2021
  • Letoon ruins.
    Flooded area of the Letoon ruins
    Photo by 
    Anna Flack
    Sept 2022

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