Pinara

Pinara, with mountain cone in background

The beautiful site of Pinara was one of the three major cities in the Xanthos valley and one of the six principal cities of Lycia.  Settlement at Pinara existed as early as the 5th century BC.  It was probably founded as an extension of the overpopulated Xanthos.  According to Manecrates, a 4th century BC historian, the leaders of Xanthos felt their city was overpopulated and so they split the city into three groups, settling one at Pinara.

In the Lycian Federation Pinara was one of the six cities with the most voting power.  It became the centre of bishopric in the Byzantine era but declined in importance and was abandoned in the 9th century.

There is no other Lycian site quite like Pinara with its untouched, gorgeous mountain setting of fragrant pines, ancient olive trees,  wildflowers, thyme-scented breezes and its stunning view over the Xanthos valley.  I've read that the Pinara area looks much like southern California.

Pinara remains undiscovered by most people - it is probably the second-most least-visited site of the Xanthos Valley after Sidyma (though well worth a visit) - and so retains its tranquil and mystical atmosphere.  The city sits perched high on a mountain reached by a twisting road and gives one an unparalled eastern view far across the Xanthos valley.  It is towered over by a more than 450 metre high flat-topped mountain cone honeycombed with hundreds of rectangular burial tombs on its vertical east face.  "Pinara" meant "round" ("Pinale" in old Lycian) in the Lycian language, with reference apparently to the rounded shape of the precipitous hill on which the city originally stood. Below the huge mountain cone spreads the city, stretching over long terraces which extend in three directions.

Pinara can be reached from the main highway between Fethiye and Kalkan, about 17 km northwest of Xanthos.  The highway is marked by a Pinara signpost near the town of Eşen.  Turn off the highway and continue to the town of Minare (about 4 km) until you come to the Pinara signpost indicating a left turn.  Continue on to the site (2 km).  The road up to Pinara is much better than it was few years ago.

Features of Pinara include:

Mountain Cone with hundreds of burial tombs
 
 
"Pigeon-hole" rock-cut tombs at Pinara
 
 
Temples - The remains of several temples can be seen.  Pinara was once a religious center dedicated to Apollo, Athena, and Aphrodite.  Aphrodite's temple has some unusual heart-shaped columns.  It once contained six columns on the front and rear and eight on the lateral facades and may have been some sort of phallic worship site - evidence of which can be seen on an interesting carving (see photo below). 
 
Pinara temple column
 
Pinara temple
 
Pinara temple, phallus
 
 
Tombs - Many large tombs exist within Pinara, mostly house-type and free-standing sarcophagi - including one of the largest sarcophagi in Lycia.  The most fascinating tomb is the "Royal Tomb", built for an important ruler and featuring detailed reliefs depicting scenes of walled cities.
 
Rock-cut tombs at Pinara
 
 
Amphitheatre - A Greek-style theatre at the base of the city from which one gets a rather nice view of the ruins above.  It dates back to the 2nd century BC and could accommodate 3,200 spectators.  It consists of 27 rows divided into 9 wedge-shaped sectors by 10 flights of steps.
 
Pinara's amphitheatre

 

Photos:

Lower Acropolis

Upper Acropolis

South Necropolis