Xanthos is the oldest and largest city of the mountainous province of Lycia, settled around 8th century BC in the valley of the Xanthos (today's Kinik) river in the Mediterranean region of Turkey.  

Until the Persian invasion in the 4th century BC it was an independent state.When the people of Xanthos, who had bravely tried to defend their city against Persians, realized that they could not repulse the invasion, they first killed their woman and committed mass suicide by throwing themselves into the flames.

About 80 surviving families and people who immigrated there rebuilt the city, but a fire which broke out about 100 years later razed it to the ground. In spite of this, the city was again rebuilt and, establishing good relations with its neighbors, was considered as an important center in Lycia. However, Xanthos again met with an unfortunate end. As a result of resisting the taxes the Athenians wanted to impose on them in 429 BC, the city was largely destroyed and the inhabitants were drawn into a war. And thus Xanthos became "a city of disasters".

Xanthos and Letoon are often seen as a "double-site", since the two were closely linked and Letoon was administered by Xanthos. Letoon was the sacred cult center of Lycia, located less than 10 km to the south of Xanthos. Xanthos-Letoon is one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Turkey. For this reason, it has been registered in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

The city itself consists of the Lycian acropolis and the parts remaining outside it, as well as the Roman acropolis. The most interesting building is the Roman theatre and the edifices of the theatre's western shoreline. Of these the most famous is the Harpy Monument, which is a family sarcophagus situated on a rock. The original of this relief - decorated sarcophagus is in the British Museum in London, and every good copy of this is in its place. Close by can be seen very interesting Lycian sarcophagi from the 6th and 1st centuries BC.

The ancient Lycian site is world-renowned thanks to exhibitions that took place in the British Museum in the 19th century during which time sculptures and ornate tombs were shown off & the famous exhibition was organised by British traveller and explorer Charles Fellowes, who spent time in the mountainous region during 1838.

Although Charles Fellows carried away most of the finds of Xanthos, which are now in the British Museum, many interesting monuments and structures remain, including two of the most interesting tombs in Lycia.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing Fellows took from Xanthos was The Nereid Monument, a very large and elaborate Lycian tomb dating from about 380 BC, an interesting mix of Greek and Lycian styles. Other notable objects taken were the lovely Lion Tomb and the Tomb of Payava.

Xanthos is not far from Patara and a trip to Letoon or Xanthos from Kalkan, Kaş or Fethiye could easily be combined with a trip to the beach and/or ruins there. It is located near the village of Kınık on a hillside in a beautiful natural site overlooking the Eşen river. From this elevation one receives a supreme view of the Xanthos Valley surrounded by the spectacular Tauros Mountains. It is easy to find by car, just off the main highway and well-marked. Xanthos' landscape is quite beautiful, especially in spring.

This is one of Turkey's most popular sites today, promising to provide an insightful look at the past civilisations who once resided in the area so those with a keen interest in the ancient world, should definitely take a visit.

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