We like a bit of cult, and Letoon happens to be the sacred cult center of ancient Lycia. That and its proximity to sister-site Xanthos was enough reason to check it out. If you Google pictures from Letoon, you will find it looks romantic, with many of the pillars and monuments arising from water. It gives the site an unusual appeal while making excavations and visits difficult at certain times of the year. Still, the Museum Directorate went to considerate efforts to make Letoon more accessible in all seasons with newly constructed paths.
The theatre and its gatekeeper
The theatre is the first and most striking building upon arrival. It is in good shape, and the side wall has quite an impressive entrance gate. You’ll have to work on your tactics to get past the somewhat original gatekeeper though. 🙂
The Porticoes, famous from the pictures
The Porticoes are probably the most photographed part of Letoon. We’ll have to admit; they are quite distinct. They look a bit out of this world, surrounded by water and home to plenty of terrapins making the most of the sun.
3 Temples next to each other
As a cult center, Letoon has three temples standing right next to each other. One is dedicated to Leto and has beautiful pillars in front of it. The one in the middle is devoted to Artemis, and the last one, with the stunning mosaic, is for Apollo. The French team of archaeologists responsible for the excavations at Letoon is doing a great job recreating what has been destroyed over time. Their eye for detail is also displayed in their choice for the information boards, which are made out of the same stone as the monuments, with carefully hand-carved inscriptions.
The temples are in the center of the site and require a bit of an effort to imagine what they must have looked like when still in their full glory.
The Nymphaeum and its sacred spring
Past the temples, you will find the Nymphaeum and the Basilica. The water is filled with frogs and terrapins and legend has it they are shepherds that are the victims of Leto’s vengeance. Moral of the story: better not mess with Leto! 🙂 During the Roman period following the Hellenistic period, a semi-circular pool was added of which the remains are plainly visible.
Letoon is a small site, but with lots of pretty details. If you’re only in the area for a very short period of time, you may want to consider visiting a somewhat larger site than this one. On the other hand, it is a convenient stop with good walkable paths and people combine it with neighboring site Xanthos to have a more comprehensive experience. Like Xanthos, Letoon is surrounded by roads and greenhouses, which requires a bigger effort from you as a visitor to actually get that feeling of ancient times.
Practical information to visit Letoon, Turkey
Letoon is situated in the village of Kumluova, just off the D400 connecting Fethiye to Kalkan. Access to the site is well way-marked. There is an entrance fee to be paid. It is common to visit Xanthos together with Letoon, it’s so-called sister-site only 5km further up the Eşen Çayı river in Kınık. Please note that a ticket to one site does not give you access to the other. Read what other travelers have to say about it on TripAdvisor.
Xanthos is about 30 minutes by car from Kalkan, so staying at Villa Rudi in authentic Islamlar is a great option. We loved every minute of our stay!
Also read our Turkey Travel resources page, containing essential information about traveling to Turkey, including links to the E-visa website and much more.