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Lycian Mediterranean

The Lycians

The Lycian people occupied the mountainous peninsular between modern-day Fethiye and Antalya from the most ancient times.

They are reckoned to be the mysterious ‘Lukka’ mentioned in some Hittite texts. The first solid reference to the Lycians comes in The Iliad, with Homer mentioning the presence of a Lycian force led by the heroes Sarpedon and Glaucus in the armies that attacked Troy. Renowned for their martial skills, the ancient historian Herodotus left us this description of Lycian warriors: ‘they wore grease and corslets: they carried bow of cornel wood, cane arrows without feathers, and javelins. They had goatskins slung round their shoulders, and hats stuck around with feathers. They also carried daggers and rip-hooks.’

The Lycians enjoyed a highly developed system of government with 23 city-states organized into a Federation whose assembly of democratically elected officials was charged with handling affairs of state.

In 540 BC it was conquered by the Persian general Harpagus, subsequently enjoying a brief interlude as a member of the Delian League, before the Persians returned once more. In 333 BC the Lycian cities wisely surrendered to Alexander the Great, with control of the area passing after his death to the Ptolemies.


Turkey’s long Mediterranean littoral provides some of the most important nesting sites for two types of marine turtle: the endangered loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta, and the even rarer green turtle, Chelonia mydas.

Butterfly Valley

A verdant canyon enclosed by towering limestone cliffs, Butterfly Valley owes its name to the profusion of flying insects, including the endemic Jersey Tiger, which flitter to and fro particularly in the spring. Such a lovely spot could not stay secret for long and in season the small beach is visited by a procession of tour boats from Ölüdeniz and Fethiye. Served by a rudimentary beach restaurant, there is also free camping and simple accommodation in tree houses. Three daily boats leave from near the dolmuş station in season.

The Xanthos Valley

Covered with a patchwork of cultivated fields, orchards and pinewoods and flanked to the east by the towering Ak Dagı range, this wide valley was a centre of Lycian civilization.


The Saklıkent Gorge is a 18 km long fissure incised deeply into the Akdag Mountains by a swift-flowing, icy torrent. The 12 km drive from the main highway is through a bucolic landscape of tiny hamlets dotted between the cotton and wheat fields, olive groves and meadows which are filled with a profusion of wildflowers in spring.

The walls soar spectacularly upwards for hundreds of meters and depending on your ability at scrambling over greasy rocks you can continue onwards for another 10-15 minutes without special equipment.

An expedition first descended the full length of the gorge in 1993.

Crossing the bridge at the canyon mouth an unsealed track makes its way south across beautifully un-spoilt countryside, through the village of Palamut to the main highway near Kınık and the ruins of Xanthos.


The name Pınara comes from the Lycian word for ‘something round ‘: probably in reference to the acropolis mount which towers dramatically over the city.
Pınara was one of the largest and most important cities in ancient Lycia. Xanthos, little else is known about Pınara, except that it minted its own coins and fell to Alexander the Great in 333 BC.

Its precipitous east face honeycombed with hundreds of rock-cut tombs. Cutting these rectangular tombs into the vertical cliff-face clearly demanded some kind of hanging scaffold along with considerable acrobatics skill on the part of the builders.


Letoon was once the religious heart of Lycia and as the site of the famous temple of Leto hosted national festivals and religious ceremonies. Legend has it THAT Leto gained the admiration of Zeus whose jealous wife Hera mercilessly drove the poor nymph from place to place. Having given birth to her two sons, Apollo and Artemis, Leto was led to the river Xanthos by wolves, where she bathed her infants and drank. In gratitude to the animals she renamed the land on the banks of the river Lycia, ‘ lykos ‘ meaning wolf in ancient Greek. Leto, along with her local-born children, became the paramount Lycian deities worshipped in three magnificent temples at Letoon.


An important Lycian city and home of the venerable temple and oracle of Apollo, Patar was later the birth-place of St Nicholas, who spawned the celebrated legend of Santa Claus.

These days, however, it’s Patara’s marvelous 9 km beach that receives most attention.

An important port and commercial centre for the Xanthos valley, Patara also became a major naval base in the wars of succession following the death of Alexander the Great.


Not so long ago it was a simple fishing community of whitewashed houses clustered around a harbor. Kaş retains something of its original character and easy-going charm.

While the town’s proximity to the un-spoilt mountains of the Lycian hinterland is also promoting it as a base for adventure sports such as mountain biking, trekking and canyoning.

Sea-kayaking & other adventure activities.

An ideal, low-impact way to explore the coastline and sunken ruins of Kekova, Bougainville Travel organize daily sea-kayaking trips to the area east of Kaş. The cost of the daytrip, including equipment, transport, a guide and lunch, with a minimum of four people required.


Kekova is an area of dry scrubby mountains dotted with ancient Lycian sites, some evocatively submerged off-shore beneath the crystal-clear turquoise water. The convoluted coastline of rocky bays, inlets and islands provides a wealth of secluded anchorages for yachts, while on dry land official protection has so far managed to put a brake on development. Making it one of the most un-spoilt parts of the Lycian coast.


Sitting on a placid inlet almost cut-off from the sea by a pair of  narrow peninsulas, the name Üçagız, ‘three mouths’, refers to the channel which slips between these two arms and the passages on either side of Kekova island beyond.

Kekova area

The scant remains of ancient Teimiussa lie on the east side of the village, with several free- standing Lycian tombs and a relief showing a naked man, a cape in his hand, behind the ugly Koç Pension.

Kale & Simena

Kale’s picturesque medieval fortress, built by the Knights of St John beside the ancient settlement of Simena, crowns a peninsula to the south of Üçagız.
Despite being favored as a secluded holiday retreat by a number of wealthy Turks, it has a charming rustic feel which, coupled with its superior location, make it more appealing than Üçagız. Chickens scratch around in the dirt and once the tour groups and yachting parties have departed for the day, there is only the sound of the water lapping gently against the rocks and a flag on the fortress flapping in the breeze.

Kekova Island

Known as the Batık Şehir-or ‘ Sunken City’- the remains of numerous buildings, streets and a harbor wall are visible beneath the translucent water.