Letoon Ancient City

Letoon Ancient City is a historical landmark worth seeing that was once an important area for the Lycian Union. Besides, Letoon Ancient City is among the 18 heritages of Turkey that are on UNESCO’s world heritage list. The temples in this city are proof that this place was an important and sacred center.

Besides its historical importance, Letoon Ancient City is a host for legends in Greek mythology. Some remaining in this ancient city helped a lot while solving the language of the Lycia union, and carries big importance for archeologists and historians. With its amazing structures and temples, Letoon Ancient City is worth visiting.

Visiting Letoon Ancient City

To see all the historical artifacts and temples in the Letoon Ancient City, you must visit this magical place. Either on a tour in Mugla or just by yourself, you can visit Letoon Ancient City and learn more about this place.

Where is Letoon Ancient City located on the map of Turkey?

Letoon Ancient City is in the Seydikemer district of Mugla. Mugla takes place in the Aegean region and has a shore in the Aegean Sea. It is located between Antalya and Aydin. Besides, Letoon Ancient City takes place in the walking path of Lycia.

How do you get to Letoon Ancient City?

Letoon Ancient City is in the Kumluova village which is in the Seydikemer district of Mugla. Once you get to Kumluova, Letoon Ancient City is just 500 meters away. From Mugla city center, Kumluova is approximately 2 hours and 50 minutes of driving away, and unfortunately, there are no public transportation options to get to Kumluova or Letoon Ancient City.

The most convenient way to get to the Letoon Ancient City is by car. If you did not come to Mugla with a car, you can rent one from the city. You might prefer taking a taxi as well as renting a car, but it can be a little bit pricey. You might get to Xanthos Ancient City first, which is quite close to Letoon Ancient City, and then take a taxi from there. It will cost a lot less. To get to Xanthos Ancient City, you can take the bus named “Kumluca-Fethiye”.

From the Kaş-Fethiye highway, you can get to Letoon Ancient City easily. On this highway, Letoon Ancient City is located 50 kilometers away from Kaş. On the Kaş-Fethiye highway, you must turn from the Ancient City (Antik kent) signboard, and after driving for 4 kilometers, you will see the Letoon Ancient City waiting for you there.

From Kaş, Letoon Ancient City is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes of driving away. From Fethiye, Letoon Ancient City is approximately 55 minutes of driving away.

Visiting hours of Letoon Ancient City

Visiting hours of the Letoon Ancient City is different in the wintertime and the summertime. In the wintertime, which is defined between the dates October 1 and April 1, the Letoon Ancient City is open to visitors between 08:30 AM and 05:30 PM. In the summertime, which is defined between the dates April 1 and October 1, the Letoon Ancient City is open to visitors between 10:00 AM and 07:00 PM.

Letoon Ancient City is not open to visitors on the weekends. Additionally, the museum opens at 1:00 PM on the first days of the religious holidays.

You can check up-to-date visiting hours from here.

Entrance fee of Letoon Ancient City

The entrance fee of the Letoon Ancient City is 12 Turkish liras. If you have a museum card, you can visit Letoon Ancient City for free, two times a year (For Turkish Citizens only). If you are not a Turkish citizen, you can still get a museum pass but its regulations are different. You can click here to learn more about the museum pass.

How long to spend in Letoon Ancient City

The duration of your trip to Letoon Ancient City might depend according to your interests and reason to come here. If you are only going to see the historical artifacts there, it will approximately take around 40 minutes to see all of them. Of course, for taking pictures and maybe a walk in the Lycia walking path, this duration might increase.

History of Letoon Ancient City

From the 7th century BC, Letoon Ancient City was a city, which revolves around religion and politics. Among 23 cities built in the Lycia union, this one has its place with the sacred meaning assigned to it. This city was initially built for the goddess Leto, to honor her and appreciate her. Being close to Xanthos Ancient City, which also has a significance in terms of politics and religion, Letoon Ancient City became even more important throughout history.

Persians, Ancient Greeks, and Carians ruled Letoon Ancient City in history. All civilizations that ruled Letoon Ancient City at some point, used this city as a sacred center of worship. The city used to contain local gods and goddesses’ statues only, but with Hellenism in the 4th century BC. While Letoon city was under the rule of the Roman Empire, the city has become a center for cultural events in the period of Roman emperor Hadrianus, and the famous theatre in this city was built in his period.

With Christianism’s spread in the area, polytheistic religions started to lose their importance. This decrease in the importance of the city continued after the end of Roman rule in the city, and in this period, a church was built in the city. In the 7th century, the city was completely abandoned. After that, Letoon Ancient City was discovered by the British naval lieutenant Rd. Husky. 

The legend of Letoon Ancient City

A legend talked about the goddess Leto, explains how this city was named. According to this legend told by poet Ovidius, Leto was a woman who had sexual intercourse with god Zeus, and then he became pregnant with his twins. Meanwhile, Zeus was married to Hera, and Hera was a quite jealous woman who did not tolerate this event.

After Hera finds out that Leto was pregnant with Zeus’ babies, she wants to gum up Leto’s birth. Hera assigns someone to follow Leto everywhere and puts a curse by saying that she will not give birth in any place the sun rises. After this curse, Zeus turns Leto into a quail to help her escape easily.

Leto escapes to the Delos island, and with the protection of Poseidon, she gives birth to her twins here. Her children are Apollon and Artemis. After giving birth, she walks to the place which is today Letoon Ancient City. This is why the city is named “Letoon”, after the goddess Leto.

Architecture and significant structures in Letoon Ancient City

In the Letoon Ancient City, there are three temples located next to each other. Those temples are named Leto, Apollon, and Artemis, to the memory of Leto who gave birth to Apollon and Artemis in a close area to here.

A mosaic in Letoon
A mosaic in Letoon

In those temples, traces of monumental wooden architecture, which is quite rare, could be observed. Actually, today there are almost no examples of monumental wooden architecture. Besides, the traces of Lycian dynast Arbinas could be observed as well as monumental wooden architecture.

Fountains in Letoon Ancient City

Until the 1st century, water and water fairies were sacred in this area, and this can be observed in the fountains found in the Letoon Ancient City. Those fountains take place in the southwest part of the Letoon Ancient City. Those fountains were believed to influence fertility, and women used to visit those fountains to get water fairies’ help in terms of giving birth. Even today, women who cannot have children come to those fountains in Letoon Ancient City to pray to Leto, to have children.

Theatre

Theatre in the Letoon Ancient City is the sturdiest structure from the city. This theatre was made in the 2nd century and was used to host holy ceremonies. The backside of this theatre is leaning into a rock, and the theatre was made by carving that rock.

Leto Temple

Leto temple is located on the west side of the Letoon Ancient City. An inscription was found next to Leto temple, and it is one of the most important findings in Letoon Ancient City. Because that inscription was written in 3 different languages and helped the archeologists a lot in terms of solving the Lycian language. The inscription is today exhibited in the Fethiye Museum.

Leto Temple in Letoon
Leto Temple in Letoon

Apollo Temple

Apollo temple takes place on the east side of the Letoon Ancient City, and unfortunately, it is not as sturdy as the Leto temple. In the Apollo temple, dor-style architecture’s features can be observed. In the middle of the Apollo temple, there is a mosaic called “Apollon mosaic”. This mosaic board is also exhibited in the Fethiye Museum since it could get harmed due to weather conditions.

It is known that Apollon mosaic is from the Hellenistic periods, and in this mosaic, Apollon is described with Artemis’ arrow and quiver.

Artemis Temple

Artemis temple is the smallest temple among all three temples. It takes place in the middle of the Apollo temple and the Leto temple.

Other structures in Letoon Ancient City

Besides those structures, there is a church, lots of graves made from rocks, sarcophagus tombs, and graves that have the special characteristics of the Letoon Ancient City.

Further information and travel tips

As I mentioned earlier, there are no public transportation options to get to Letoon Ancient City directly. Renting a car would help you a lot on your trip to Mugla.

Additionally, if you are planning to see other historical landmarks in Mugla or Turkey, getting a museum card is strongly recommended. This way, you can save up lots of money since you will be able to enter museums and historical landmarks for free or with discounts. But, if you are planning to visit one or two historical landmarks and museums, getting a museum card will cost you more than just paying the entrance fee.

Frequently asked questions about Letoon Ancient City

Letoon Ancient City is a mysterious and historically important place, and the following are some of the frequently asked questions about Letoon Ancient City.

Why is the city named “Letoon”?

City gets its name from the goddess in Greek mythology goddess, Leto.

Are there any restaurants around Letoon Ancient City?

There are some restaurants within 10 kilometers of the Letoon Ancient City.

What are the other attractions near to Letoon Ancient City?

Patara Beach, Saklıkent National Park, Patara Ancient City, and the Xanthos Ancient City are the top attractions near the Letoon Ancient City.

How much it will take to get to Letoon Ancient City from Kaş?

If you take a taxi from Kaş, it will take approximately 240 Turkish liras to get to Letoon Ancient City.

How old is Letoon Ancient City?

Letoon Ancient City is approximately 3 thousand years old.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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