Tlos: the oldest Lycian city
Turkey Culture

Tlos: the oldest Lycian city

Forget about Unesco. If your guidebook on Turkey doesn’t say that Tlos is an exceptional site to visit, throw it away. 🙂 Yes, Unesco sites have an outstanding cultural or heritage value, but the list shouldn’t result in you losing out on a remarkable place to visit just because it wasn’t mentioned in it. Fortunately, we love doing research, venturing off the beaten path, and sharing our findings. Trust us, when coming to Kalkan or Fethiye, make a detour to Tlos. You won’t regret it.

Tlos, Lycian Rock Tombs

Tlos, playing in the major league

Tlos is one of the six cities forming the Lycian League, along with Olympus, Myra, PataraPınara, and Xanthos. While Xanthos is already on the Unesco World Heritage List, Tlos has to be happy with a place on the temporary list for the time being. Things may change since excavations in Tlos only started in 2005. Some of the significant statues discovered on the site, like the one of Emperor Hadrian (from the famous gate in Antalya), are now exposed at the Fethiye Müze. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there are plenty more objects waiting for their uncovering under the rich greenery that covers Tlos’ soil. That is why, even today, Tlos is a player in the major league of things to visit in Turkey.

Tlos, Amphitheater

A fascinating mix of impressive buildings and extraordinary details

When visiting Tlos, make sure you take the time to walk around. At first glance, you may think it will be a short visit. Don’t let its low key atmosphere mislead you. This is a big site with a rich past. Being one of the most significant religious Lycian sites, Tlos was subsequently inhabited by Romans, Byzantines and eventually Ottoman Turks. And while the site is still relatively untouched, many of the structures have stood the test of time. Apart from the almost obligatory theater, you will find a stadium that could seat about 3.500 spectators, a pool, a Byzantine Basilica, a temple dedicated to Kronos, several Roman baths, a Necropolis, and an Acropolis and Citadel perched on the steep cliffs covered with Lycian Rock Tombs and sarcophagi. And while Tlos is stretched out, it has a lovely and intimate feel.

Tlos, Roman Bath

Tlos, Lycian Sarcophagus

Beauty all around

The beauty of Tlos goes way beyond the site itself. The setting is amazing, with mountains and valleys on all sides. We could provide you with an in-depth historical background of the site, or a description of all the emotions that came over us as we walked around for hours without encountering one single person. But we are quite confident that these pictures speak for themselves. Please click on them to enjoy them in full format and get ready to add a visit to Tlos to your Turkey bucket list.

Entangled in today’s life

Tlos is situated in Yakaköy; a small farmers village overlooking the Xanthos valley. Life goes at its silent pace, and the villagers have gotten used to being surrounded by historical artifacts that seem to be appealing to foreign visitors. They use the lands to let their cows and goats graze. After all, these are fertile lands, so why not make use of them? This is probably another reason why Tlos is so enchanting: apart from the ticket booth, it just seems to be in its natural state. Yes, there are some information boards explaining what you are looking at. And some buildings have gates to prevent you from getting hit by a falling stone. But never do you get the feeling you are at a tourist attraction. All you feel is you are walking around in an amazing part of Turkey.

Tlos, a working village

Practical information to visit Tlos, Turkey

Tlos (or Yakaköy nowadays) lies in the hinterlands the towns of Fethiye and Kalkan, and you reach it by leaving the D400 connecting both cities. There are road signs to help you when in doubt. There is a small entrance fee to be paid.

You will find some small hotels in Yakaköy and its broader area. We particularly liked Natural Springs Retreat. Apart from having its own stream and natural pool, you have the option to sleep in an authentic yurt or a treehouse. Natural Springs Retreat is on the road to Tlos, at about 5 minutes by car.

All local airports in Turkey, including Dalaman and Antalya, have smooth connections with Istanbul airports if required. You’ll find cheap flight options here. Or you can use the search widget on the side to quickly find the most affordable and best flights available.

Make sure to read our Turkey Travel resources page, which contains essential information about traveling to Turkey, including links to the E-visa website and much more.

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All pictures © @Aegean.Images

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