Pinara Archaeological Site


Location: 50 km (31 mi) East of Fethiye


Pinara west of the Xanthos River (today Eşen River), namesake of the ancient city of Xanthos. The name Pinara has been related to the name of the current town of Minare, which is half an hour from the ruins and depends on Fethiye, in the district of Muğla Province (Turkey).

In Pinara you can see the remains of several ancient temples, as well as rock-cut tombs including 'royal tombs', an upper and lower acropolis, an ancient Greek theatre, an odeon, an agora and a church.



In Pinara there was a cult of Pandarus, the Lycian hero of the Trojan War, leading some sources to conclude that he was originally from the city.

According to the Lycian history of Menecrates, cited by Stephen of Byzantium, the city was a colony of Xanthus, and its original name would be Artymnesos (in ancient Greek: Ἀρτύμνησος). This name would have preceded the Lycian name of Pinara, derived from the form "Pilleñni" or "Pinale" which means 'round hill' or simply 'round', with a hypothetical change of the liquid consonant. The city is in fact situated on a large round mass of rock, and a more or less circular cliff rises above the remains. Another source, Paniasis, also mentions an eponymous founder named Pinarus, son of Tremilo, but some sources consider this account to be as insubstantial as many other similar etymologies.



Although the city is not often mentioned by ancient writers, it appears from its vast and beautiful ruins to have been, as Strabo states, one of the largest in Lycia, and its main port until the port was silted up, state in which continues today.

A rare mention of the city in ancient sources is related to the help it gave, along with other Lycian cities, to Pixodaro of Caria.

Pinara was a member of the Lycian League, in which he had three votes. The city surrendered to Alexander the Great in 334 BC. After the death of Alexander, the city fell into the hands of the kingdom of Pergamum. Pinara became a Roman city when its last king Attalus III handed it over to the Roman Republic in 133 BC. The city enjoyed prosperity during Roman rule, but was badly damaged by earthquakes in the years 141 and 240. Regarding the former, it is known that the city received a contribution from Opramoas for the repair of its public buildings.

Pinara was soon Christianized. Five bishops are known: Eustathius, who signed the formula of Acacius of Caesarea at the Council of Seleucia in 359; Heliodorus, who signed the letter of the bishops of Lycia to Emperor Leo I the Thracian (458); Zenas, present at the Quinisext Council) (692); Theodore, at the Second Council of Nicaea (787); Athanasius, at the synod that reinstated Patriarch Photius I of Constantinople (Photian Council) in 879. Pinara was the birthplace of Nicholas of Mira.

Finally, under repeated pressure from invading forces, the city lost its inhabitants in the 9th century. The Christian bishopric of Pinara, which is currently not a residential seat, is included in the list of titular sees of the Catholic Church.



The ruins of Pinara were identified by Charles Fellows. "In the middle of the ancient city," he says, "rises a singular round rocky cliff (the pinara of the Lycians), literally dotted with tombs. Below this cliff are the ruins of the extensive and splendid city. The theater is in a very perfect condition; All the seats remain, with the sides inclined towards the proscenium, as well as several of its portals. The walls and several of the buildings are made of Cyclopean masonry (Cyclopean architecture), with massive entrance doors made up of three immense stones. The tombs are innumerable, and the inscriptions are in Lycian characters, but Greek also often appears on the tombs themselves. Some of these rock tombs are adorned with beautiful and rich sculptures.