Letoon was the sacred cult center of ancient Lycia, its most important sanctuary, and was dedicated to the three national deities of Lycia: Leto and her twin children Apollo and Artemis. Located just south of Xanthos, the two areas are linked together as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Under excavation for about 60 years, archaeologists have begun restoring the Temple of Leto.
Letoon was not a city, but rather was the spiritual heart of Lycia and the place of national festivals. It was the center of pagan cult activity until the fifth century CE when it fell victim to Arab attacks and sand silt from the Xanthos River.
Remains of the three temples dedicated to the three major deities are located in the center of the site. Most of the blocks for the Temple of Leto have been preserved. This was the largest of the temples and is considered one of the best preserved Greek temples in the world.
To the southwest of the temples is a nymphaeum connected to a sacred spring, full of terrapins and frogs. It was perhaps used in a religious immersion ceremony and was built during the Hellenistic period with the Roman addition of a semi-circular pool.
The Basilica is the remains of a Byzantine church with a nearby mosaic fragment. The church is believed to have been constructed in the 6th century CE but was destroyed around the mid-7th century, possibly by the Arab attacks of that period. The nave and aisles were decorated with floor mosaics depicting geometric designs and animal figures (these can’t be viewed – they are now either covered or have been removed). It is thought that there was a monastic community associated with the church and, due to the large number of drinking vessels found during excavation, they were dubbed “the Drunken Monks”.
Basilica Mosaic Fragment
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