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1. Sarcophagus on a pillar

2. Roman theatre

3. Xanthian obelisk

4. Grand structures to the east

5. Tombs in the forest

6. In the British Museum

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Lycian town of the holocausts

Xanthos, Turkey

Xanthos, Turkey

Although some of Xanthos finest structures were brought to the British Museum in the 19th century, what remains is enough to make Xanthos a Lycian highlight.
This ancient town follows undulating hills, with stunning views across to the Xanthos river valley. There really is a lot to see here, and Xanthos makes an impressive eye opener to antiquity. Lycian artefacts, near perfect sarcophagi rising above a Roman theatre, a highrising acropolis that is far more than rubble, a Roman boulevard made from gigantic, yet smooth pavement stones, and rock tombs set in between a bent trees.
Xanthos emerges from historical obscurity in 540 BCE, when it by force was made part of the Lycia. As the story goes, the women and children were burnt in a great fire while their husbands fought until the last man. To the extent this is historically accurate, the inhabitants through Xanthos' golden age were not descendents of the original inhabitants.
This would be only the first of two times the inhabitants here chose death instead of foreign subjugation, the sencond time happening half a millennium later when the Romans conquered Xanthos, in 42 BCE.
Together with the religious capital of Letoon, Xanthos forms a World Heritage site.

Opening hours are 7.30-19.00 in summer, 8.00-17.00 in winter. Admission fee is a modest 3 lira. The area is unfenced, and many tourists here never seem to bother to buy a ticket.
There are no services at Xanthos, and even public transportation is so that a walk is unavoidable. The nearest place for accommodation and food are Kalkan, 20 km southeast, and Fethiye, 65 km northwest.

By Tore Kjeilen