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Discover Turkey's 7 Spectacular Tombs

Have you ever wondered about the ancient burial sites carved into cliffs in Turkey? These are the Lycian rock tombs, which date back to the 4th century BCE and were used by the Lycian people. The tombs are not just simple burial sites, but they are also adorned with intricate carvings and reliefs that depict scenes from daily life and mythology. The tombs are located along the Dalyan River, which adds to the stunning landscape surrounding them. Some believe that these tombs served as a temple for the afterlife.

Today, many of these rock tombs have become popular tourist attractions, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Lycian people. As you explore the stunning landscape around Dalyan River, you can't help but wonder who built the impressive temple nearby or what beliefs they held about the afterlife. These unique structures stand as a testament to an ancient civilization's legacy and are a must-see for anyone interested in Turkey's fascinating history.

Lycian Rock Tombs

History and Significance of Lycian Rock Tombs

The Lycian rock tombs, also known as the Lycian necropolis, are some of the most fascinating ancient structures in Turkey. These tombs, which were built by the ancient Lycians in southwestern Turkey, are carved into cliffs and mountainsides and served as burial places for Lycian nobles and rulers. The tombs are set against a stunning landscape, with steps leading to each tomb. One of the most impressive tombs is that of Amyntas, which resembles a temple.

The Ancient Lycians

The ancient Lycians, known for their seafaring skills, trade networks, and military prowess, had their own language, culture, and religion. They were also renowned for their impressive hewn tombs, including the temple tombs of Amyntas. These tombs were built with great care and attention to detail, showcasing the Lycians' expertise in stonework. It is worth noting that the construction of these tombs was carried out with complete respect for the dead and in accordance with the right customs of the time. The Lycians were an indigenous people who lived in southwestern Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) from around 1200 BCE until the 6th century CE.

The Construction of the Rock Tombs

The Lycian rock tombs, including the tomb of Amyntas, were constructed between the 5th century BCE and the 4th century CE. They were carved out of natural rock formations using simple tools such as chisels and hammers. The tombs vary in size from small chambers to large multi-roomed structures.

Significance of the Rock Tombs

The intricate carvings on the tombs depict scenes from Lycian mythology and provide insight into the beliefs and culture of the ancient civilization. Many of these carvings feature images of gods such as Apollo, Artemis, Athena, and Zeus. Some also depict scenes from daily life such as hunting or fishing. However, there are also carvings that pay tribute to Amyntas, a prominent figure in Lycian history.

One notable example of Lycian tombs is the Tomb of Payava located in Xanthos. This hewn tomb is decorated with reliefs depicting Payava himself wearing armor while holding a spear with his charioteer standing behind him. Another remarkable example of temple tombs in the region is the Tomb of Amyntas.

Another example is the Harpy Tomb located in Xanthos, a city in Lycia, an ancient civilization known for its unique temple tombs and hewn tombs. This tomb features reliefs depicting three female figures with wings known as harpies, which were commonly depicted in Lycian art. The harpies are shown carrying off a small figure, possibly the soul of the deceased. The tomb bears inscriptions in the Lycian language, providing valuable insights into the culture and beliefs of this fascinating civilization.

Preservation Efforts

Despite their historical and cultural significance, many of the Lycian rock tombs have suffered from natural erosion and human damage over time. In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve these structures for future generations.

One such effort is the Lycian Way project, which is a long-distance footpath that runs along the coast of southwestern Turkey passing by many of the rock tombs. This project has helped to raise awareness about the importance of preserving these ancient structures.

Another preservation effort is ongoing archaeological excavations and restoration work on some of the more damaged tombs belonging to the Lycian civilization. These efforts aim to protect and restore these valuable pieces of history, including inscriptions in the Lycian language, for future generations to enjoy.

Unique Architecture of Lycian Rock Tombs

The Lycian civilization was a prominent ancient civilization that existed in modern-day Turkey from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. One of the most remarkable features of this civilization is its unique architecture, particularly its rock tombs. These tombs were hewn into cliffs and mountainsides, showcasing the ingenuity and creativity of the Lycian people.

History and Significance

The Lycian rock tombs date back to the 4th century BC and were built for wealthy and influential individuals such as Amyntas and Kaunos. The tombs were carved out of limestone cliffs using simple tools like chisels and hammers, which makes their construction even more impressive.

These tombs are significant because they provide insight into the religious beliefs, art, language, culture, and social hierarchy of the Lycian people. They also showcase their exceptional architectural skills, which influenced later civilizations such as the Romans.

Design Features

The design of these tombs was heavily influenced by Lycian culture. Many resembled temples with intricate carvings and decorations on their facades. Some had columns or pediments while others had reliefs depicting scenes from daily life or mythological stories.

One notable example of Lycian architecture is the hewn tombs of Xanthos, which include temple tombs like the Tomb of Payava and the Tomb of Harpy. The Tomb of Payava has a frieze depicting a battle scene between Greeks and Amazons, while the Tomb of Harpy has reliefs depicting winged creatures known as harpies.

Another unique feature is that some tombs have multiple chambers inside them where family members could be buried together. Some also had small niches where offerings could be left for the deceased.

Preservation Efforts

Many Lycian rock tombs have been damaged by natural elements such as earthquakes or erosion over time. Others have been looted or destroyed by humans. However, efforts have been made to preserve these tombs for future generations.

The Turkish government has established national parks and museums to protect and showcase Lycian rock tombs. Many of these sites are now open to tourists who can marvel at the beauty and ingenuity of these ancient structures.

Beauty of Lycian Rock Tombs through Images and Descriptions

Lycian Rock Tombs: A Stunning Sight Against the Rugged Landscape

The Lycian rock tombs, also known as the Lycian necropolis, are ancient burial sites carved into cliffs and hillsides in the southern coast of Turkey. These tombs offer a stunning sight against the rugged landscape and provide an insight into the rich history and culture of ancient Turkey.

The Lycians were an indigenous people who inhabited the region from around 1200 BC until their assimilation into the Roman Empire in 43 AD. They were known for their artistic talent, which is evident in the intricate carvings and designs on these rock tombs. The tombs served as a way to honor their deceased loved ones while showcasing their artistic prowess.

Intricate Carvings and Designs Showcase Artistic Talent of Lycian People

One of the most remarkable aspects of these rock tombs is their intricate carvings and designs. The Lycians used a variety of motifs such as mythological creatures, gods, goddesses, and animals to decorate these tombs. Some even had inscriptions written in Greek or Lycian script.

The most famous among them is perhaps the Tomb of Amyntas located in Fethiye. This hewn tomb was carved into a cliff face overlooking Fethiye Bay between 350-325 BC during Hellenistic period. It features reliefs depicting scenes from Greek mythology such as Medusa's head with snakes instead of hair, Apollo driving his chariot across the sky, Athena standing with her shield and spear, etc.

Another notable tomb is the Harpy Tomb, one of the hewn tombs located near Xanthos city center which dates back to 480-430 BC during Classical period. It has four winged women (harpies) carved on its facade that represent death personified.

Tombs Serve as a Reminder of the Rich History and Culture of Ancient Turkey

The Lycian rock tombs are not only a testament to the artistic talent of the Lycian people but also serve as a reminder of the rich history and culture of ancient Turkey. These tombs were built over a period of several centuries, from around 400 BC to 400 AD, and represent different architectural styles that reflect the cultural influences during those times.

For example, some tombs show Greek influence while others have Roman elements. Some even have a mix of both. The Lycians had their own unique style too which is evident in their use of rock-cut architecture and intricate carvings.

Locations of Lycian Rock Tombs in Turkey

Lycian rock tombs are one of the most fascinating and unique archaeological wonders in Turkey. These tombs, which were built by the Lycians, an ancient civilization that existed in the region from the 8th to the 4th century BCE, are located in southwestern Turkey. Here are some notable locations where you can find these impressive structures:


The ancient city of Myra is perhaps the most famous location for Lycian rock tombs. Located near present-day Demre in Antalya province, Myra was an important city in ancient times and was known for its impressive architecture and engineering feats.

The rock-cut tombs at Myra are particularly noteworthy because they are carved into a sheer cliff face overlooking the city. The most famous tomb at Myra is the Tomb of St. Nicholas, who is also known as Santa Claus. This tomb features a large relief sculpture of St. Nicholas himself.


Dalyan is another popular location for Lycian rock tombs. This small town on Turkey's southwestern coast is home to several impressive examples of these structures.

One notable feature of the rock tombs at Dalyan is that they are situated high up on a cliff overlooking the town and river below. This makes them quite difficult to access but also adds to their sense of mystery and awe.


Fethiye is another coastal town that boasts several excellent examples of Lycian rock tombs. These structures were built into a hillside overlooking Fethiye harbor and date back to around 400 BCE.

One particularly interesting feature of these tombs is that they were originally painted with bright colors, although much of this paint has since faded away over time.


Finally, Kas is another coastal town that features several examples of Lycian rock tombs. These tombs are located on a hillside overlooking the town and harbor, and they offer stunning views of the surrounding area.

One unique feature of the rock tombs at Kas is that they were built in a variety of different styles, including some that resemble small temples or houses. This suggests that the Lycians may have had a diverse range of beliefs and cultural practices.

Exploring Lycian Rock Tombs in Turkey

What are Lycian rock tombs?

Lycian rock tombs are ancient burial sites carved into cliffs in Turkey's Lycia region. These tombs were built by the Lycians, an ancient civilization that lived in the area from the 15th to the 5th century BCE. The Lycians believed that their dead needed a proper resting place and created these elaborate tombs as a way to honor their deceased loved ones.

Where can you find impressive examples of Lycian rock tombs?

Some of the most impressive examples of Lycian rock tombs can be found in Dalyan, a town located on the Dalyan River in southwestern Turkey. Dalyan is home to several different types of rock tombs, including temple tombs and cut tombs.

One of the most famous examples of hewn tombs is the Kaunos Rock Tomb, which dates back to around 400 BCE. This tomb features a large facade with four columns and a triangular pediment at the top. It was likely built for an important figure in Kaunos society and is one of the best-preserved examples of its kind.

How can you explore these fascinating structures today?

Today, visitors can explore these fascinating structures by boat, taking in stunning views of the surrounding rock formations along the way. Boat tours typically depart from Dalyan and travel upriver towards Kaunos, passing by several different types of rock tombs along the way.

Once you arrive at Kaunos, you can disembark from your boat and explore further on foot. The site includes not only several impressive rock tombs but also ruins from an ancient city that once thrived here.

Another popular destination for exploring Lycian rock tombs is Fethiye, located further down the coast from Dalyan. Here you'll find many different types of rock tombs scattered throughout town, including the impressive Tomb of Amyntas, which dates back to the 4th century BCE.

What makes Lycian rock tombs so special?

Lycian rock tombs are unique in that they were carved directly into the cliffs rather than being built from separate blocks like many other ancient structures. This required a great deal of skill and expertise on the part of the Lycian artisans who created them.

In addition to their impressive craftsmanship, Lycian rock tombs also offer a glimpse into the beliefs and customs of this ancient civilization. Many of the tombs feature intricate carvings and decorations that provide clues about how the Lycians lived and what they believed.

Have any new discoveries been made recently?

Archaeologists continue to make new discoveries related to Lycian rock tombs all the time. In recent years, several new tombs have been found throughout Turkey's Lycia region, shedding light on this fascinating civilization and its burial practices.

One notable discovery was made in 2019 when archaeologists uncovered a previously unknown tomb near Fethiye.

Importance of Preserving Lycian Rock Tombs

Historical and Cultural Significance

Lycian rock tombs are significant cultural heritage sites in Turkey. These ancient structures were built by the Lycians, an indigenous people who lived in the region from the 6th century BCE to the 4th century CE. The tombs served as a final resting place for prominent members of society, including kings, queens, and other high-ranking officials.

The Lycian rock tombs are unique in their architectural style and design. The intricate carvings and decorations on the facades of these structures reflect the artistic skills of the Lycians and provide insight into their culture and beliefs.

Preserving these tombs is crucial for maintaining the historical and architectural value of these structures. They serve as a reminder of Turkey's rich cultural heritage and offer a glimpse into its past.

Tourism Industry

The preservation of Lycian rock tombs can also contribute to the tourism industry in Turkey. Tourists from all over the world visit these ancient sites to learn about their history and admire their beauty.

By preserving these tombs, Turkey can attract more tourists, which can have a positive impact on its economy. The revenue generated from tourism can be used to fund further preservation efforts, ensuring that future generations can enjoy these cultural treasures.

Importance of Tomb Preservation

Preservation efforts must be taken to ensure that Lycian rock tombs remain intact for years to come. These efforts include:

  • Regular maintenance: Regular cleaning, repairs, and restoration work of rock tombs should be carried out by trained professionals to prevent deterioration.

  • Education: Educating locals about the importance of preserving these tombs can help raise awareness about their significance.

  • Regulations: Strict regulations should be put in place to protect these rock tombs from vandalism or destruction.

  • Tourism management: Managing tourist traffic around these sites is essential to prevent overcrowding or damage caused by visitors.

Encouraging Readers to Visit and Explore the Rich Cultural Heritage of Lycian Rock Tombs in Turkey

In conclusion, the Lycian rock tombs in Turkey are a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, architecture, and culture. These tombs hold immense significance and tell fascinating stories about the ancient civilization that built them. The unique architecture of these tombs is a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of the Lycian people.

Exploring these tombs is an experience like no other. The beauty of these structures can only be fully appreciated through images and descriptions. Visiting them in person is an opportunity to witness their grandeur up close.

It's important to preserve these tombs for future generations to appreciate and learn from. By visiting them, you're contributing to their preservation efforts while also gaining insight into a rich cultural heritage.

So why wait? Start planning your trip today and immerse yourself in the wonder of Lycian rock tombs!


Q: Are there any guided tours available for exploring Lycian rock tombs?

A: Yes, there are several guided tours available that offer a comprehensive experience of exploring Lycian rock tombs. You can find information about these tours online or through local travel agencies.

Q: Can I take photographs inside the rock tombs?

A: Photography is generally allowed inside the rock tombs, but it's always best to check with your guide or local authorities before taking any photographs.

Q: What should I wear while visiting the rock tombs?

A: It's recommended that visitors wear comfortable clothing and shoes as some areas around the rock tombs may require hiking or walking on uneven terrain.

Q: Is it safe to visit Lycian rock tombs alone?

A: While it's generally safe to visit Lycian rock tombs alone, it's always recommended that visitors explore with a guide or in a group for safety reasons.

Q: Are there any restrictions on visiting Lycian rock tombs?

A: Yes, visitors are not allowed to touch or climb on the rock tombs as it can cause damage to these ancient structures. It's important to follow all rules and regulations set by local authorities when visiting Lycian rock tombs.

Q: What is the best time of year to visit Lycian rock tombs?

A: The best time to visit Lycian rock tombs is during the spring or fall when temperatures are mild and crowds are smaller. However, they can be visited year-round.

Q: Can I bring my children with me while exploring Lycian rock tombs?

A: Yes, children can accompany you while exploring Lycian rock tombs. However, it's important to keep an eye on them at all times and ensure their safety around these ancient structures.

Q: How long does it take to explore Lycian rock tombs?

A: The duration of exploration depends on how many sites you plan on visiting.

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