Friday, August 2, 2013


Ottoman Fortress towers over the ancient city

On the road out to Saklikent we had passed a sign indicating a turn to go to ancient Tlos. The place Elisabeth wanted to go to for lunch was supposedly also out in that direction somewhere.  So off we went to search out both Tlos and the restaurant.  Our Lonely Planet guidebook for Turkey did not have much information about Tlos:

Looking up from tomb side to the Ottoman Fortress

"On a rocky outcrop high above a pastoral plain, Tlos was one of the most important cities of ancient Lycia.  Its prominence was matched only by its promontory; so effective was its elevated position that the well-guarded city remained inhabited until the early 19th century."

Amphitheater is now off-limits to tourists

We saw all the typical things associated with both a Lycian city and a Greek or Roman town.  The usual acropolis, a stadium seating 2,500, an amphitheater with 34 rows of seating, and two baths, along with Lycian rock tombs and sarcophagi, all topped with an Ottoman fortress.   Guess we are becoming a might jaded because we already have seen so many of these ancient Roman and Lycian sites.  The only thing particularly striking to us about Tlos was the excellent location overlooking an enormous valley.

Rock tombs overlooking Xanthos valley

Tlos is situated on the eastern side of the enormous Xanthos valley.  (We visited ancient Xanthos in May or June 2012 and wrote a blog about it at that time, so I will forgo explaining anything more about Xanthos here.)   The websites I checked stated that Tlos was dominated by its acropolis.  I beg to differ.  Tlos is dominated by the Ottoman fortress high above the acropolis.  The views of Xanthos valley are breathtaking.

Ruins of the ancient city of Tlos

As one of the most powerful of the six principal cities of Lycia, Tlos was important to the Roman empire.  It was a member of the Lycian Federation from the 2nd century BC.  It is one of the oldest and largest settlements of Lycia and was known as 'Tlawa' in Lycian inscriptions.  Two wealthy philanthropists were responsible for much of the building in the 2nd century AD. Eventually it was inhabited by the Ottoman Turks.  

Ruins of the entrance gate to the acropolis
As Tlos has existed for so very long it has been affected by the many different cultures who have inhabited the city and has resulted in an interesting collage of structures.  A Jewish community is also known to have existed here with its own magistrates.  During the Lycian days, the citizens were divided into demes (local administrative divisions of ancient Attica-Greece).  Inscriptions in the stones identify 3 of the demes here were known as Bellerophon, Iobates and Sarpedon.  If interested, more about these legendary figures can be read here:

Think this might be the Bellerophon tomb
One of the distinctive features at Tlos is the Tomb of Bellerophon (one of the 3 famous legendary figures mentioned above).  This a a temple-type tomb with an unfinished facade featuring a bas-relief on its porch of the Greek mythological hero Bellerophon riding Pegasus.  Punished by the Lycian King Iobates for an improper love affair, Bellerophon was sent to kill the fire-breathing monster, Chimaera.  With the aid of Pegasus, a gift from goddess Athena, Bellerophon slew the monster from the air; then married the king's daughter.  From their offspring came the later rulers of Lycia.  Today the Chimaera continues to exist as a perpetually-burning fire in eastern Lycia near Olympos.  

Or, maybe it is one of these?  The first one looks more
like a temple tomb to me.

(Note:  there are boat tours offered in Fethiye going to Olympos.  We probably will not go on one of these tours.  Especially since I cannot locate specifically where this Olympos is supposed to be located.)

Wonder what this was for.  Looked like it once
connected to something across what is today's road.

As we drove away from Tlos we passed this stone formation higher on a small hill opposite from the Lycian rock tombs carved into the mountain beneath the Ottoman Fortress.  Obviously these stones are not a natural formation but we could not figure out what their use might have been in ancient times.  Across the roadway there was a large, very tall tumble of square-ish stones almost completely covered in vegetation.  It appeared to me that at some point something connected from the stones in this photo to what was a large structure slightly lower on the hillside (and now across today's roadway).  Excavation work is not active at Tlos now.  Who knows if those structures will ever be identified.  

Looking down at valley from the odd stone formation
Farther down the roadway we saw a little girl sitting beside a table of items for sale.  This is everywhere in Turkey.  Whatever produce is currently in season will be sold all along the roadsides.  Very often these roadside 'produce stands' are manned by children.  And they never speak a word of English.  This girl was no different.  She was a cute little thing, but could not communicate with us because she did not speak English and we know extremely few Turkish words.  On the table were plates of green figs and brown figs, as well as some items of jewelry and bags of dried herbs and spices.  But what caught my eye were the bottles of olive oil.  These were old water bottles or drink bottles which were filled with homemade unfiltered olive oil.  

Cutest little girl selling mom's wares
I held up a large bottle of the oil and picked up one of the 5 lira bills in her currency box.  She nodded her head.  So, I guess she was willing to accept 5 lira for that bottle of olive oil.  That seemed much too cheap to me ($2.61 for over a quart of olive oil).  So I gave her a 10 lira bill.  That still seemed like an awfully cheap price to me.  She smiled and we went on our way.  When we got back to the boat that night we enjoyed sliced fresh focaccia dipped in herb-flavored olive oil.  It was fabulous!!!  The best olive oil any of us had ever tasted.  Now I wish we also had bought the other 2 smaller bottles on her little table.

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