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Tlos - A Great Greek Village on the Unesco World Heritage List

Join us for a visit to a hugely interesting ancient Greek city - one on the Unesco World Heritage Sites in Fethiye, Muğla in Turkey.

While most of the recorded history of Tlos dates back to Lycian times 500 - 300 BC, there is actually evidence that the area has been occupied since the Bronze Ages 3300 to 1200 BC - a history of nearly five thousand years! According to Greek myths, the name of the city comes from Tloos, one of the four sons of Tremilus and Praxidike but actually the city name is derived from Tlawa, which is a Lycian and means "Land of Dalawa" in the Hittite texts.

The city was important as early as in the 15th century BC in the late Bronze Ages but it lived its peak after it became part of the Persian Empire. In the Hellenistic period it was one of the six autonomous Roman cities of the Lycian League. An earthquake in 141 AD destroyed many monuments in the city and another in 240 AD caused further destruction which little by little led to its inhabitants abandoning the city.

The Lycian tombs around the city are particularly interesting. A rock tomb with a temple façade from the 4th century BC shows a relief sculpture of Bellerophontes on his winged horse Pegasus. According to a legend, the King of Lycia received Bellerophontes as a guest upon his arrival from Greece. With his horse Pegasus Belleropontes killed Chimaera, a fire-breathing monster consisting of the body of a goat, the head of a lion and the tail of a serpent. A hero, Bellerophontes married the king’s daughter and eventually became King of Lycia himself.

A British archaeologist, Charles Fellows rediscovered Tlos in 1838 but it is only since 2005, that regular excavations have been conducted. Thanks to these, wide terraces with cisterns and back walls of buildings carved from the rock have been found, as well as an agora, a theatre, public Roman baths and the remains of an early Byzantine church. Tlos was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Temporary List in 2009.

Many artefacts, such as statues, a bronze axe, arrowheads and flint cooking utensils, are exhibited at the Fethiye museum - you may wish to continue your visit at this museum, too!

Tlos is just a short 35 km drive from Fethiye. There is limited parking available. While most of the site is located on a relatively flat plain, Tlos is definitely not accessible for visitors in a wheel chair or with a pram. As there are no hand rails and the stairs to the peak can be slippery, it is worth taking care and go slowly in any case!

Do not forget to bring your own water and snacks, as there is no food or drinks available at the site. It is best to visit Tlos in the morning or late in the afternoon as the day gets very hot and there is practically no shade to escape to.

There is a loo behind the ticket office and a kiosk with some interesting books and cards about Tlos, worth checking. There is no café in the museum but you might wish to check the ones behind the small parking area for a tea or a cold drink.

Tlos, Fethiye, Muğla, 48850 the text and photos


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