The Aegean coastline is regarded as a cultural trove that provides a fascinating mixture of factual and mythological individuals, conflicts and events, and has frequently been referred to in the folklore of various cultures throughout history. As such, it is regarded as the home of scholars, saints, warriors, kings, and heroes, as well as the site of numerous well-known myths. Mark Antony of the Roman Empire is said to have picked the Turkish Riviera as the most beautiful wedding gift for his beloved Cleopatra of Egypt. St Nicholas, later known as Santa Claus, was born in Patara and served as the Bishop of Demre (ancient Myra), a small town close to present-day Antalya. Herodotus accepted as the father of History, was born in Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassus) in 484 BC. The volcanic mountains to the west of Antalya, are believed to have been the inspiration for the mythical Chimera - the firebreathing monster that Bellerophon slew.
Leto Leto (Greek: Λητώ; Λατώ, Latō in Dorian Greek, etymology and meaning disputed) is a daughter of the Titan Coeus and Phoebe. According to legend, Leto was loved by Zeus and persecuted by the jealous Hera (Zeus’s wife). Fleeing from the goddess’s wrath, Leto fled to Patara where she gave birth to her twins (Apollo and Artemis). In one story Leto is harrassed by some Lycian shepherds at a spring as they try to drive her away from the water. She punishes them by turning them into frogs. In another story, the persecuted Leto is aided by wolves who guide her to the river Xanthos where she quenches her thirst and washes her children. In memory of this occasion she changes the name of the country from Termilis to Lycia, "lykos" being the Greek world for "wolf". This legend of Leto and the wolves existed for a long time in western Anatolia - still under the Roman Empire coins were minted depicting the fleeing Leto with her children. Some believe that the cult of Leto existed in Lycia prior to the Greek period and that Leto's name may be related to "lada" which is Lycian for "woman" or "wife". Leto cults also existed in Halicarnaussus, Cnidus, Phrygia, Caria and Cilicia.
Leto was identified from the fourth century onwards with the principal local mother goddess of Anatolian Lycian, as the region became Hellenized. In Greek inscriptions, the Letoides are referred to as the "national gods" of the country. Her sanctuary, the Letoon near Xanthos predated Hellenic influence in the region, however and united the Lycian confederacy of city-states. The Hellenes of Kos also claimed Leto as their own. Another sanctuary, more recently identified, was at Oenoanda in the north of Lycia. There was, of course, a further Letoon at Delos.
Artemis Artemis (genitive) Ἀρτέμιδος) was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.
Apollo & Telmessos (present day Fethiye) The first settlement in the region was Telmessos, 5th Century BC. According to the founding legend of Telmessos, The God Apollo fell in love with the daughter of Agenor, the King of Fethiye. Apollo managed to become intimate with the shy maiden by disguising itself as a dog and they eventually got married. Apollo named their son Telmessos.
Bellerophon The Illiad contains a story about Lycian's early history. The tale of Bellerophon, who killed a monster called Chimaera (body of a goat, tail of a snake and head of a lion) who breathes fire and reduces everything in its path to ashes. Bellerophon spied a flying horse. This is Pegasus, the divine horse born of the blood of Medusa. Bellerophon finds the wild creature impossible to capture and begs the goddess Athena to help him capture Pegasus. Athena gives Bellerophon a golden bridle and with this he tames the winged horse and the two of them became unseparable.
Hephaistos Another god worshiped in a part of Lycia (the city of Olympos) was Hephaistos, god of fire and forging, known in Rome as Vulcan. He was a native of Anatolia, of the Lycian-Carian region. The unloved son of Zeus, protector of his mother Hera and married to Aphrodite; his cult was celebrated in such places where natural fire sprang from the earth. He is primarily associated with creative fire and only later with destructive fire.
In Olympos, the sacred precinct of Hephaistos has an eternal flame (also related to the Bellerphone myth) which still exists today.