Letoon Ancient City Turkey


Letoon is one of the most important religious focal points in Lycia. It is a sanctuary dedicated to Leto. The name Leto, the mother of Artemis and Apollo, first appears as “Lada” in the clay tablets written in Luvi language which is dated back to 2nd century BC. We also encounter with the name “Apollonius” in these tablets which are interpreted as the origin of Apollo, the God of light. That is why Lykia has been called the “country of light” throughout the centuries. There are also the temples of Apollo and Artemis beside the sanctuary of Letoon.

Plan of Letoon


  • The Temple of Artemis
  • The Temple of Leto
  • The Temple of Apollo
  • Nymphaion
  • Small exedra
  • Monastery
  • Hellenistic and Roman porticoes
  • Roman theatre

Plan of Letoon

Within the sacred precinct, three temples have been found. The largest (measuring 30.25 by 15.75 meters) is located on the west. This is a well-preserved temple in the peripteros (a temple surrounded by a row of columns) style. It is in the Ionic order and has six columns each on the short. sides and eleven each on the long. The temple can be dated to the second quarter of the 2nd century BC. The structure has a deep pronaos (front porch) and a false opisthodomos (rear porch). An inscription found in the cella (main chamber) indicates the temple was dedicated to Leto, the mother of Artemis and Apollo.

The Apollo temple on the eastern side of the precinct is in the Doric order and in a rather poor state of preservation. It is somewhat smaller than the Leto temple, measuring 27.90 by 15.07 meters. It too is in the peripteros style and has six by eleven columns. It was built during the Hellenistic period. The temple has a deep pronaos and opisthodomos and within the cella, there is a mosaic in which Artemis's bow and quiver and Apollo's lyre are depicted. In the vicinity of the temple was found an inscription of great importance whose text is repeated in Greek, Lycian, and Aramaic. The inscription is from the reign of Artaxerxes III and is dated to June of 358 BC. It makes reference to one Basileos, the legendary founder of Kaunos. This inscription has played a vital role in the deciphering of the Lycian language.

Between these two temples was an Artemis Temple of more modest dimensions (18.20 by 8.70 meters).

On the southwestern side of the terrace on which these three temples are located in a lovely monumental fountain called a nymphaeum. This semi-circular portico contains a basin measuring 27 meters in diameter. Inscriptions found in situ indicated that the fountain was built during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138).

At the northwestern corner is a small exedra (a recess containing statue bases and seats) from the Hellenistic period.

South of the temples is a monastery and a church that date to the 4th century. Both suffered destruction around the middle of the 7th century.

North of the temples are the remains of Hellenistic and Roman porticoes in the Ionic and Doric orders. The site also contains structures dated to the 4th century BC. and finely-wrought walls from the Lycian period.

North of Letoon, about a hundred meters from the temple on the hillside, is a Roman period theater. The skene (stage building) can no longer be made out and only the cavea (auditorium) remains. The cavea is divided into two by a single diazoma (horizontal passage). An enclosed passageway on either side provides access to the auditorium. The southwest corridor is decorated with a frieze of theatrical masks.

Xanthos Turkey

Letoon, a cult center of ancient Lycia, is located four kilometers from the ancient city of Xanthos on the western bank of Esen Cayi (ancient Xanthos river). The history of Letoon is inextricably bound with that of the city of Xanthos. Excavations at Xanthos have been in progress since 1950, carried out by a French team originally under the direction of Henri Metzger and later Christian le Roy. Pottery unearthed at the area can be dated to the late 8th or early 7th centuries BC. There have been no traces of any finds later than the 7th century AD.

Plan of Xanthos

Plan of Xanthos

  • Inscribed Pillar
  • Lycian Funeral
  • monument Roman Agora
  • Byzantine Basilica
  • Harpy Tomb
  • Lycian Pillar tomb
  • Roman Pillar tomb
  • Roman Theater
  • Remains of a Lycian
  • pillar Tomb
  • Byzantine Monastery
  • Temple of Artemis
  • House
  • Mosaics
  • Defensive Wall
  • Hellenistic Period Tower
  • City gate
  • Nereid Monument
  • Basilica
  • Agora
  • Byzantine Basilica
  • Sarcophagus of the Dancing Girls
  • Lion Tomb
  • Pillar Tomb
  • Valley of the Tombs
  • Roman Acropolis
  • Byzantine Monastery