Pinara Turkey, Evocative Ancient Lycian city

by Steven Sklifas
Ancient Theatre. Pinara. Turkey.

The evocative and remote ancient Lycian city of Pinara, is situated on a pine forested mountain foothill of the ancient Mount Cragus (now Mount Babadag),two kilometres above the village of Minare, in the Fethiye district of Mugla Province, south-western Turkey.

Pinara was discovered by Sir Charles Fellows, a British archaeologist and traveller of the 19th century.

Pinara (meaning ‘round hill’ in ancient Lycian) was established on the western bank of the River Xanthos in the 5th century BC by colonists from the overpopulated city of Xanthos, which was the largest city of the Lycian Federation.

During this period Pinara had a large natural harbour and was one of the chief ports of the influential Lycian league. The harbour no longer exists and in its place are reed-filled wetlands.

Very little was written about Pinara by ancient writers, however Strabo, the ancient Greek geographer, philosopher and historian wrote that Pinara was a very important and developed city and was one of the six principal cities of the prominent Lycian league and possessed three votes at the Federal assembly. (The other five were Xanthos, Patara, Olympus, Myra, and Tlos).

Strabo also noted that the city appears to have paid hero honours to Pandarus, Homers celebrated archer from the Trojan war.

In 334 BC the city surrendered somewhat happily to Alexander the Great, on his march through Lycia. Alexander was welcomed as a liberator by the locals due to their disdain of the former Persian occupiers. The city like the rest of Lycia was completely Hellenised during this period.

After Alexander’s death, his empire was spilt with Pinara annexed to the Attalid Kingdom, the Hellenistic Dynasty that ruled Pergamum. It eventually became under Roman rule and achieved great prosperity. During its peak, Pinara even minted its own coins.

The area was and is prone to earthquakes and the city was considerably damaged in 141 and 240 AD by large earth-shaking events. The city was somewhat rebuilt; however it was eventually abandoned in the 9th century.

The extensive and interesting site is crisscrossed by numerous footpaths and features numerous remnants from its past.

Highlights include the ancient theatre, foundations of ancient temples, Cyclopean walls, an Odeon and Agora, an upper and a lower Acropolis, and thousands of rocks tombs cut into the vertical limestone cliff face, some of which are quite intricate.

All images, text and content are copyright Steven Sklifas.

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