Tlos – Fethiye, Turkey - Atlas Obscura

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One of the most exquisite Lycian hilltop citadels in Turkey.  


One of the six most important Lycian cities, Tlos was described in the Hittite Chronicle as “the most brilliant metropolis of the Lycian nation.” Although most Lycian cities were located along the coast, Tlos was strategically placed on a hill commanding expansive views of Xanthos Valley to the west and protected by the Akdag mountains to the east. The actual hill on which Tlos is perched is further secured by near-vertical slopes on three sides, making it a natural fortress. 

Evidence suggests that Tlos was inhabited 4,000 years ago, but the site was not abandoned until the 19th-century. The impressive longevity of the location means that Tlos was home to several disparate cultures, all leaving their mark on the acropolis and nearby area. The Kanlı Ağı fort at the very top of the hill is Ottoman, but even this relatively recent construction incorporated pre-existing Lycian and Roman walls. Directly below the fort are Lycian tombs, traditionally carved into the side of the rocky outcrop, and directly outside these tombs are several sarcophagi.

To the right of the entrance, a path leads to the base of the hill. After a steep descent and ascent, a cluster of tombs can be seen from the path. It takes some climbing to reach the most important tomb of Tlos: the Tomb of Bellerophon (Tomb no. 1). 

According to the legend, an ancient Lycian king sent Bellerophon to kill Chimaera. Upon his departure, Athena gifted Pegasus to Bellerophon. Fittingly, on a wall of the tomb, Bellerophon is depicted in full fighting gear riding a winged horse. Not far from the Tomb of Bellerophon is Tomb no. 5, above which is an interesting bas-relief portraying ten fighting warriors.  

Beside the acropolis is the stadium. The wide expanse of land between the ruins is a modest reminder of how massive this stadium was. The only visible remains of the stadium are the seats that could accommodate 2,500 spectators and the pool that sits in the center of the stadium. On the north side of the stadium are the two baths, the gymnasium, and the amphitheater, flanked by buildings that are believed to have hosted the local market.    

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April 20, 2021

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