The Letoon was a shrine to the goddess Leto, situated by the Xanthos River. It is also 4 km south of the ancient city of Xanthos, with which it was closely affiliated. Though it was never an utterly populated community, it was one of the most significant religious centers in the area. The site is situated in Turkey's Mula Province's Fethiye district, south of the town of Kumluova. Together with Xanthos, it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.
The location was likely previously considered sacred by an earlier mother goddess's cult (Eni Mahanahi in Lycia), which was replaced by the worship of Leto and her twin children - Apollo and Artemis. A first-degree archaeological site, the Antique City of Letoon, is governed by national conservation laws. The Environment Protection Zone, which the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization manages, includes this inscribed property of Letoon. It is regarded as Turkey's most impressive archaeological site. Hundreds of tourists visit the historic city daily to experience its captivating beauty and enigmatic history firsthand.
How to explore Letoon?
- Three Hellenistic temples honoring Leto and her offspring are present at the location. Its inscriptions, which are written in Greek, Lycian, and Aramaic, have been significant in helping to interpret the Lycian language. The Fethiye Museum has these inscriptions in its collection.
- A mosaic (a copy; the original is at the Fethiye Museum) depicting a lyre, a bow and arrow, and a floral center is located on the floor in the center of the Apollo temple.
- The folklore holds that the frogs live in the perpetually submerged nymphaeum, a beautiful fountain with statues. It is said that some shepherds turned down Leto's request for a drink from the fountain and were punished as a result. Given that Leto was worshiped in conjunction with water, the atmospheric structure is fitting.
- A sizable theater built during the Hellenistic period in the second century B.C. is located right next to the central temple complex.
- The well-known trilingual inscription was found next to the Apollo temple and was written in Lycian, Greek, and included an Aramaic summary. This inscription dates to 337 B.C.
- The periodic rise in the groundwater table threatens the monuments and archaeological relics inside the Letoon sanctuary. Visit Poticoes, which is currently submerged underwater.
- The pillar tombs, rock art tombs, and sarcophagi set on pillars are examples of distinct funeral construction. We can completely comprehend the successive acculturation processes that occurred in Lycia from the 6th century onwards because of the extensive collection of Lycian graves at Letoon.