The captivating ancient city of Tlos

Updated: 18 November 2013 Created: 24 October 2013
Tlos FethiyeTlos is one of the largest and oldest settlements of ancient Lycia. Just a short trip away from Fethiye, this striking citadel is thought to be more than 4000 years old. Tlos was one of Lycian’s six principal cities - and allegedly, one of the most powerful. During the Roman era it was described as “the brilliant metropolis of the Lycian nation”. 

As well as being inhabited by the citizens of Lycia, Tlos was settled by Romans, Byzantines and eventually, the Ottoman Turks. It is one of the few Lycian cities that has been continually inhabited until modern times.

The many cultures that lived here have resulted in a number of different structures. The most striking buildings are the acropolis and the fortress, which loom over the other buildings. On the slopes leading up to these structures are a number of Lycian sarcophagi and tombs cut into the hill face. One of these is the Tomb of Bellerophon, featuring a relief of the heroic Bellerophon riding the winged horse Pegasus. (Mythology has this impressive pair living at Tlos).

Tlos is located on the eastern side of the Xanthos valley, perched on an outcrop over a plateau where a village is located. Tlos’s west, north and northeastern borders end in sheer cliffs.

At the top, the impressive remains of an acropolis and Lycian fortress dominate the site. The fort was reinforced by the Ottomans during the many inter tribal battles that took place in the area.

Tlos Roman theatreAt the bottom of the hill you’ll find a Roman stadium with enough seating for 2,500 people - pretty impressive even by modern-day standards. Today, only the seats remain and the arena where gladiators once strode is now a farmer’s field.

Parallel to the stadium is a large ancient market hall complex, with a gymnasium to its right - complete with baths.

Tlos was ‘rediscovered’ in modern times by British archaeologist Charles Fellowes in 1838. Since then excavation has almost been ongoing and in the last few years even more structures have been uncovered, allowing more insight into this incredible spot.

Tlos co-exists with the modern village of Yaka. Surrounded by meadows and pomegranate trees, the site is extremely pretty and makes a very worthwhile day trip from nearby Fethiye. At the site entrance there’s a ticket hut and there are also cafes and a natural spring.

If you’re travelling from your Fethiye property you need to head towards Antalya on the D400. After around 25 minutes you’ll reach a junction with traffic lights where you should continue straight on towards Sakklikent. From there, follow the signs. The whole journey should take you around 45 minutes.

Tlos is one of those attractions that really highlights Turkey’s incredible history and culture. Anyone buying real estate in Fethiye is fortunate to have Tlos (and other similar attractions) right on their doorstep. 

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