Thursday, May 20, 2010

Letoon & Xanthos

After that ankle-burning day at the beach, I was ready for some ruin-tromping. I've been to both these places before, but I never tıre of Xanthos and I was willing to give Letoon another chance. Let's start with Letoon:

This was one of the most sacred places to the Lycians. The story goes that Leto gave birth to Apollo and Artemis on Delos, but fled to Lycia to escape the wrath of Hera for, y'know, getting knocked up by her husband Zeus. She (Leto) landed in this spot and tried to get some water for her twins. For some reason, a pair of shepherds tried to stop her. She promptly turned them into frogs. To this day, the frogs remain, as it very swampy. OK, the complex conists of three temples (one each to Leto, Apollo and Artemis) and a theater. That's all she wrote. Folks, the is a UNESCO-designated sight and that's all you get. I walked 5 miles to get to it and it was even more disappointed this time around. Anyhow, here is an overall view of the temples:

Here's a mosaic in Apollo's temple:

If that's original, my name is Mausolus of Halicarnassus. Here is a nearby sheep:

Here is a sample of the swampiness:

This is the theater:

And a local goat:

And that's it for UNESCO-designated Letoon. It was a six-mile march to Xanthos in the midday heat. It was totally worth it.

Xanthos was probably the largest city in Lycia. It also had one of the most violent histories. On two occasions (in the 5th century when they were besiged by some Persian satrap and in 42 BC when they were again besieged by noblest Roman of them all, Brutus) they all chose to kill themselves and torch the place. The city was subsequently restarted by families who were 'on vacation' at the time of the mass-suicide. Xanthos is also mentioned often in the Iliad. In fact, Lycia gewts a lot of airplay, with Sarpedon and Glaucus leading the Lycian contingent. However, neighboring Caria is only noted in passing. Anyhow, Xanthos has some really cool funerary architecture in the form of pillar and rock tombs. There are also mosaics, a rather small theater and lots of other ıntriguing stuff that the British didn't haul away to put in their museum in London. If you like, and your budget will allow, you call see the original Tomb of the Harpies (this one sports reproductions generously provided by the British) and the Nereid Monument at the British Museum. Here are some photos:

That last tomb is the so-called 'Dancing Maiden Sarcophagus.' Those are the maidens dancing right there. There are also others scenes, like people hunting lions and a guy falling off a horse.

This place's location is on a hill above the vıllage of Kınık. Looking down from it, you can see gangs of greenhouses:

When I first came here in 1998, those weren't there. Things change sometime.

So it was a very hot day, but the visit to Xanthos was just super-excellent. I recommend it to each and all.

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