Ruins of Tlos & Lycian Tombs : Home of the Winged Horse, Pegasus

With a passion for exploring historical sites in Turkey, I always considered myself knowledgeable about most ancient ruins. The Mediterranean coast in particular has plenty, providing Turkey with its most famous walking trail called the Lycian way.

Yet, when I discovered an article about the ancient ruins of Tlos, I read it repeatedly because I had never heard of this city.

Lycian ruins of Tlos in Turkey

What was its history?

Why did historians say, it did and still holds immense importance, regarding cultural trends throughout the years?

More important, I had to learn where Tlos was and how to get there.

I was told they were in Xanthos valley, and my original plan was to visit, while in the coastal resort of Patara. To travel there, according to Google maps would take an hour. However, I could not find any public transport heading in that direction, the tour excursion shops were all closed, and I was not carrying my driving licence.

Therefore, I made the decision to forget about it, and moved further up the coastline to stay in the resort of Olu Deniz, Turkey. After arriving, I saw an excursion advert that visited many destinations including Tlos so I Immediately bought a ticket.

About Tlos Ruins on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey

Lycian tombs Tlos

I cannot understand why Tlos is not more frequently mentioned in guidebooks and history articles about Turkey. It is more than just a tourist attraction or bunch of unorganized ruins.

Tlos Ruins

A tour guide or detailed book is needed to fully appreciate the historical importance however even if history is not your passion, the city walls, ampitheatre, public baths and market street all overlooked by the fortress and  Lycian tombs are an astonishing  testament to building and architectural trends throughout thousands of years.

Ruins of Tlos

Standing at the top of the hill, I was also rewarded with an amazing landscape view reminding me of the natural beauty of Turkey, away from big cities and urban development.

Xanthos Valley

Resources write that Tlos, was one of the oldest and largest cities of the Lycian era. The Lycians dominated the Mediterranean coast of Turkey from the Bronze Age and in later years, were incorporated into various empires including the Romans.

Most notoriously known for creating the first democratic society, their language and traditions eventually disappeared but historical societies respect them for their art, building trends and fighting skills.

Tlos Turkey

Due to habitation by various cultures, some ruins of Tlos also date from the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empire, therefore giving more importance to their existence.

Med coast Turkey Tlos

The Lycian Tombs of Tlos

A walk around the main city was easy to navigate and a gentle stroll, but the walk to the Lycian tombs and fortress at the top of the hill, was strenuous. It was worth the effort though and while looking inside the ruined tombs, it is impossible to ignore thoughts about previous people throughout history, who have stood in the same spot.

Tlos Lycian Tombs Turkey

Although now empty and displaying no signs of grandeur, the tombs were the resting place of important people in the Lycian Empire. Laid to rest inside, with their possessions that would go with them into the afterlife, the high position on the hill, made it easier for the winged like creature that would transport them.

Lycian tombs at Tlos

Home of Pegasus: The Winged Horse

On the far side of the city, in a steep cliff inaccessible by humans, is one tomb, said to be that of the Greek Mythology hero, Bellerophon and his immortal winged flying horse Pegasus. The history, mythological connection, Lycian tombs, and incredible landscape views make Tlos, one of my favourite historical sites in Turkey. Definitely visit if you are on the Mediterranean coast.

Readers : Have you been to Tlos?

Turkey Tlos

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Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an Internet addict with a passion for history. Read my story here or leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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  1. says

    Believe it or not I theoretically own a piece of land within walking distance of Tlos. I say theoretically – too boring a story to go into. But, yes, the ruins are absolutely amazing. Turkey has such a wealth of archaeology.

  2. says

    . . you’re right Natalie – strangely under rated and ignored. Just means that those of us who enjoy repeat visits get the place to ourselves without all those annoying tourists cluttering up the photo-shoot! 😉

  3. Jennifer says

    have been to that area twice and this is the first I have heard of it. It looks spectacular, so sorry to have missed it. Turkish tourist board needs to get their act together. Thanks for the article

  4. says

    Tlos looks like the kind of place that I would let my imagination go a little wild, thinking back to all of the mythical stories I used to read and listen to on cassette tape when I was a kind.

    Think I’ll have to drop by if I get the chance.
    Dale wrote about..Our Finger-Licking Love For Housesitting

    • says

      Be sure to go if you are in the area Dale – it is a fantastic place to let your imagination wonder.

  5. rudolf benirschke says

    I spent 2 tours in Turkey with th US Air Force a year in Izmir and a year in Incirlik 3/4 of my FreeTime I spent sight seing. I didn’t visit Tlos. Best guide to ancient sites that I found is: Ancient Civilizations and Ruins of Turkey, by Ekrem Akurgal. Perhaps the foremost archaeologist in Turkey in the 20th century. Good luck in your travels. Rudy

  6. says

    These tombs are gorgeous! I love that you included a bit of the mythology. I was really in to mythology and I love being able to visit places said to be the locations in myths.

    • says

      I love mythology as well – somehow seems all so romantic

  7. says

    Natalie! We don’t know each other in real life but I wish we did! I too absolutely love these amazing ruined cities that are scattered all over the country. I am glad that Tlos isn’t more popular. I have been twice and think it’s just fabulous. Don’t spread the word too far! We don’t want it to become touristic.
    PS am I allowed to say this? I don’t like yr photos – are they instagram? You have played with them too much in my very humble opinion.

    • says

      We would have a ball touring the country and all the sites! I suppose the plus like you say, is the less popular, it is the more room for us

      The photos seemed quite flat so I played around with the composure and lightening. Obviously went too far with it, but thanks for telling me. I need to know these things.
      Natalie wrote about..Where to See Lycian Rock Tombs in Turkey

  8. says

    Have not been to Tlos…and that is saying something. It makes me happy. I’ve been looking for a reason to go back and get my Turkey fix!
    Corinne wrote about..Courtyard in India

    • says

      I think you would like it Corinne – Definitely put it on the To-Do-List

  9. scott arnott says

    Hi, We are visiting Kalkan this summer having fallen on love with this part of Turkey last year. Tlos looks amazing. We went to Xanthos last year but will certainly make time to see Tlos. Are there any other must sees in the Area ?

    • Nat says

      Hi Scot, there are loads of places but much depends on whether you are using public transport, hiring a car to be independent or joining tours?

  10. Robyn Daniels says

    Hi Natalie – love Turkey (lived here 3 years now) and love your blogs which encourage me to explore. Tlos is fairly local to where I live near Fethiye and although there are tours I do believe there is a local dolmus that takes you near there and you have a bit of a walk onwards from drop off point – will investigate and let you know as I plan on visiting soon – only driven through there on hire minibus on way to friend’s in past.

    I also want to visit a place called Sinop on the Black Sea and wondered if you have visited and written a blog on the place xx

    • says

      Hi Robyn, Glad to meet a fellow fan of the country. Yes, please, do let me know about the dolmus. For Sinop, that is still on my bucket list. Hoping to get there in 2015

  11. says

    I was in Xanthos and Letoon last year. I heard about Tlos while in Fethiye. The problem, from the perspective of a budget traveller like me, is the accessibility. Do you know of any public transport or dolmuses that go anywhere near Tlos? None of the Fethiye blogs mention any.

    • Nat says

      I have never found a mention of it Yap but for me it was easier to join a tour because it went to other places at the same time. Nothing like having a chauffeur! 😉

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