Lycia: Ancient Coast Of Anatolia


This article will briefly introduce you to ancient Lycia. We will cover Lycia’s early history, landscape, Lycian culture, language, Patara, their other cities, Greek, Roman, and finally modern Lycia.

Lycia Early History

Lycia, an ancient region located in modern-day Turkey. Lucia has a rich and fascinating early history. It is believed that the area was first inhabited by the indigenous peoples known as the Lycians around the 3rd millennium BCE. However, the region later came under the influence of various ancient civilizations, including the Hittites and the Mycenaeans. In the 6th century BCE, Lycia became an independent kingdom with its own unique culture and political system. The Lycians were known for their skill in seafaring and had prosperous trade relations with neighboring regions.

Lycia’s strategic location on the Mediterranean Sea allowed it to flourish as a hub for maritime trade. They developed a distinct maritime culture and were known for their shipbuilding skills. The region’s close proximity to Greece brought about cultural exchanges and influences from the ancient Greek civilization, which left an indelible mark on various aspects of Lycian society.


Lycia’s Landscape

Lycia boasts a breathtaking landscape that captivates visitors with its natural beauty. This ancient region is characterized by its stunning coastline, majestic mountains, and lush valleys. The crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea gently lap against sandy beaches, inviting travelers to take a leisurely dip or explore the underwater wonders while diving. Inland, the rugged Taurus Mountains provide a dramatic backdrop, offering opportunities for hiking, mountaineering, and discovering hidden caves. The diverse terrain of Lycia, with its picturesque villages and terraced fields, creates a scenic mosaic that leaves a lasting impression.

One of the remarkable features of Lycia’s landscape is the abundance of ancient ruins scattered throughout the region. The remnants of grand cities, temples, and theaters stand as silent witnesses to the rich history of this land, from the imposing Lycian rock tombs carved into cliffsides to the well. The architectural treasures of Lycia blend harmoniously with the natural surroundings. Exploring these archaeological sites allows visitors to immerse themselves in the region’s fascinating history and cultural heritage.

Lycia's Landscape and Lycian culture
Beautiful nature landscapes in Turkey mountains. Lycian way is famous among hikers. (Lycia’s early history).

Lycian Culture

Lycian culture was vibrant and distinctive. Influenced by various civilizations, including the Greeks and the Persians, Lycian culture was a fascinating blend of indigenous traditions and outside influences. Their unique architectural style, elaborate rock-cut tombs, and grand temples showcases their artistic prowess. Lycians also deeply revered nature and worshipped deities associated with the sea, mountains, and forests.

Lycian culture also had a distinctive political system known as the Lycian League, composed of various cities operating as independent entities. Each city had its own assembly and elected officials, highlighting a sense of democracy and self-governance. The Lycians also had a unique language and writing system, which is still not fully deciphered today.


Lycia’s Language

The ancient language of Lycia is both intriguing and mysterious. Known as the Lycian language, it is an ancient Anatolian language spoken by the indigenous people of Lycia. Despite numerous efforts, Lycia’s language remains partially deciphered, and much of its grammar and vocabulary are still not fully understood.

However, what is known is that Lycia’s language had its own unique writing system, known as the Lycian script. This script, which features symbols that resemble ancient Greek letters, was mainly used for inscriptions on tombs, monuments, and other important artifacts. Studying the Lycian language will hopefully offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of this ancient region in the future.



The city center of Patara was a vibrant and important hub of commerce, culture, and politics. Situated on the southwestern coast of modern-day Turkey, Patara thrived as a major port city and played a vital role in Lycian trade networks. The city boasted impressive architectural marvels, including a grand theater, Roman baths, and a monumental agora, showcasing the wealth and prosperity of the region.

In addition to its commercial significance, Patara held religious and cultural importance in ancient Lycia. The city was home to a renowned oracle of Apollo, drawing pilgrims from far and wide who sought divine guidance. The Temple of Apollo, standing as a testament to the city’s religious significance, was a majestic sanctuary that attracted worshippers and visitors alike. With its architectural splendor and spiritual significance, Patara’s city center offers a glimpse into the vibrant and multifaceted world of ancient Lycia.

Patara, Antique City Antalya Turkey (Lycia’s early history).

Lycia’s Other Cities

As one of the capital of ancient Lycia, Xanthos held immense historical and cultural significance. This ancient city, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, was renowned for its architectural wonders and rich heritage. Visitors can explore the remnants of a grand theater, a Roman agora, and the iconic Nereid Monument once adorned the city’s acropolis.

Xanthos was also known for its strategic importance, as it played a central role in Lycian history, bravely defending its independence against invading forces. Today, Xanthos serves as a testament to the ancient Lycian civilization, captivating travelers with its fascinating ruins and stories.


Situated on the southern coast of Lycia, the ancient city of Myra offers a treasure trove of historical attractions. Known for its impressive rock-cut tombs and grand Roman theater, Myra showcases the architectural prowess of the ancient Lycian people. The city also features a well-preserved Roman amphitheater that once hosted various events and performances.

Myra’s importance extended beyond its architectural marvels; it was also the hometown of Saint Nicholas, the inspiration for the legendary figure of Santa Claus. Today, visitors can immerse themselves in the captivating history of Myra while exploring its well-preserved ruins and soaking up the remarkable atmosphere of this ancient city.


Greek Lycia

During Lycia’s time under Greek rule, it experienced a significant influence from the ancient Greek civilization. This period brought about cultural exchanges, Greek customs, language, and art adoption. Greek architectural styles and techniques left a lasting impact on the region, visible in the grand temples, theaters, and other monumental structures of Lycia. Greek philosophers and intellectuals influenced Lycian society, contributing to the development of intellectual discourse and the spread of Greek ideas.

Greek rule in Lycia also brought economic prosperity and increased trade opportunities. The region’s strategic location on the Mediterranean Sea allowed for the expansion of maritime trade routes, resulting in flourishing commercial activities. Lycian cities became prominent centers of commerce, attracting merchants and traders from various parts of the ancient world.


Roman Lycia

During ancient times, Lycia experienced a transformative period under Roman rule. After the Roman conquest in 43 BCE, Lycia became an integral part of the Roman Empire. This brought about political stability and administrative changes that benefited the region. Under Roman rule, Lycia witnessed a continued flourishing of their economy by expanding trade routes and establishing new infrastructure.

The Romans also made their mark on Lycia’s architecture, landscape, and Lycian culture. They accomplished this by constructing remarkable monuments, such as theaters, aqueducts, and temples. This fusion of Roman and Greek influences shaped the unique cultural identity of Lycia, leaving behind a rich historical legacy that can still be explored through the archaeological sites scattered across the region.


Modern Lycia

Lycia, known as Likya in Turkish, is a region of significant historical value and a thriving modern destination in Turkey. The region, now part of the Antalya Province, boasts a stunning coastline along the Mediterranean Sea, attracting tourists with its picturesque beaches, charming seaside towns, and luxurious resorts. Visitors can explore the ancient ruins and archaeological sites that dot the landscape while also enjoying modern amenities and a vibrant tourism industry. Lycia’s modern-day towns and cities offer a mix of traditional Turkish culture, warm hospitality, and opportunities for adventure.

The modern name of Lycia pays homage to its ancient roots, serving as a reminder of the rich historical and cultural heritage that shaped this region. Likya continues to captivate travelers with its captivating beauty, offering a chance to experience the best of both the past and the present. From exploring ancient ruins to indulging in delicious local cuisine, modern Lycia invites visitors to embark on a journey through time while enjoying all the comforts and conveniences of the modern world.


Lycias Coinage

Due to their historical and cultural importance, lycian silver coins hold a numismatic value. These ancient coins provide a glimpse into the economic and political landscape of Lycia, showcasing the region’s thriving trade networks and independent identity. The designs and inscriptions found on Lycian silver coins reflect the Lycian civilization’s artistic prowess and offer insights into their language and symbols. Collectors and enthusiasts treasure Lycian silver coins for their rarity, beauty, and the intriguing stories they tell about this ancient region’s monetary system and the wider ancient world.

Lycia's Early History and language
(Lycia Early History)

Published by Invest in History Co.

We specialize in high-quality gold and silver coins. Focusing on Middle East, Eastern European, and Ancient coins. We carry Roman, Greek, Parthian, Phoenician, Celtic, Byzantine, Russian, Jewish, Islamic, and many other culture's coins.

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