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CHOSEN BY the Sunday Times as one of the world’s 10 best walks, the 509-kilometre Lycian Way runs between Fethiye and Antalya, its route going through “Turkey at its most staggeringly beautiful,” says the 14th edition of Lonely Planet Turkey.
The Way is named for the Lycians, a people mentioned by Homer in the Iliad. They were matrilineal, spoke their own language (still not fully decoded), and bequeathed to posterity “some of the most stunning funerary monuments from ancient times.”
The entire route is littered with significant stoneworks from succeeding epochs: Lycian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine.
If the full Way seems too much, try the five-kilometre stretch between Letoön and Xanthos, both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Letoön was the sanctuary of Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis. Xanthos was once the capital of Lycia. It retains a colonnaded Roman street, theatre and agora; also some well-preserved mosaics.
To stretch your legs more and get in a bit of R & R add Patara, eight kilometres south of Xanthos. Patara’s 18-kilometre beach, backed by sand dunes, is Turkey’s longest. There’s also “a swag of atmospheric Lycian ruins,” as well as a 5,000-seat theatre and the bouleuterion. From 168 B.C. this is where the 23 cities in the Lycian League met, making it, some reckon, “the world’s first parliament.”
Patara was also the birthplace of the 4th-century Byzantine bishop who became St. Nicholas—Santa Claus.
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