For a site mentioned as "one of the most important cities in ancient Lycia" in most references, very little information is actually known about Pinara. We do know that it was one of the six largest settlements in the Lycian League, entitling it to 3 votes in political matters. But, other than that, almost everything is based on educated guesswork and story-telling.

Exploring Historic Pinara

Historians believe that Pinara was established when the nearby city of Letoon-Xanthos grew too large. Based on the structure and decoration of temples in the area, it is assumed that Pinara started out as a religious center dedicated to Apollo, Athena, and Afrodite. However, a church was built in the 3rd or 4th century as Christianity flourished in the region.

Thus far, Pinara is my favourite historical site in Turkey. It is peaceful and mostly undisturbed, so the building ruins are scattered and left as they fell – during earthquakes and periods of looting. (There's always the possibility that Charles Fellows spirited some artifacts away to the British Museum when he "discovered" Pinara in 1852, but I have seen no mention of specifics, so will give the benefit of the doubt and assume he left the site as he found it.) The only structure that is actually recognizable to the untrained eye is the delightful Hellenistic theatre built into a hillside, which is in excellent condition.

The theatre at Pinara

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The site also includes temples, an odeon (a small theatre often used for singing and poetry recitals), a bath house, a church, and an agora – all of which are sign-posted for the benefit of people like me who can't tell the difference between a bath house and a basilica. Plus tombs, lots and lots of tombs.

House tombs in the lower acropolis at Pinara

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The Pinara tombs are magnificent. (And fortunately, they have provided researchers with plenty of information about life in Lycian times.) There are a variety of styles, the most common being house tombs which were carved directly into the rock, with ornamentation mirroring the houses of the time. While poking through the site, we spotted many with entrances carved to look like wooden roof beams, and lots of decorative touches including carvings of humans and horses.

Entrance of a stone tomb carved to look like it has wooden roof beams

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Figure riding a horse carved on the entrance to a tomb at Pinara antique city

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The upper acropolis grabs your attention before you even arrive at the site. It features dozens of rectangular shaped holes carved into the steep, 450-metre tall, cylindrical rock face overlooking the settlement. Once the upper acropolis became full, the Pinara residents created a second acropolis (referred to as the lower acropolis) with ornate tombs built to resemble the houses of the dead. And, high on the slope of the mountain on the south end of Pinara is the elaborate King's Tomb (which looks remarkably similar to the Tomb of Amyntas in Fethiye.)

The King's Tomb at Pinara

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Visiting Pinara

Entrance Fees & Facilities

There is no admission fee to visit Pinara.

There is a small guard hut at the entrance to the site and the security guard offered us tea and water when we visited in December 2021, but there are no real on-site facilities.

Getting to Pinara

Pinara is located at the foot of Mount Babadağ's eastern side, about a 40 minute drive from Fethiye. On the day we visited, a brick road was being constructed from the nearby village of Minare to the site, so future access will be easy. (We hiked uphill for about 35 minutes from the village to get to the Pinara entrance gate because the road was a slippery, muddy mess and we weren't willing to attempt it on our motorbike.)

Free parking is available adjacent to the security station at the entrance to the site.

Entrance to the open air museum at Pinara, Turkey

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A secondary road runs through Pinara which heads through the mountains to Faralya (overlooking Butterfly Valley) and Ölüdeniz.


The site is not accessible for those with mobility issues. The theatre can be seen from the secondary road running through the site, but access to everything else requires good hiking shoes and a sturdy constitution.