Ancient Dalyan Tombs Carved in Rock Cliffs

Dalyan Turkey

Just a short day trip from Marmaris lie the ancient rock tombs of Lycian Kings in Dalyan. The drive there is a little more than an hour by motorcycle through pine forests on great quality roads. The town, not much in and of itself, seems to be geared around tourism. There are numerous boat excursion companies that take passengers up the Dalyan river. The riverboats cruise past the tombs heading to İztuzu Beach to the south, home to the nesting grounds of protected loggerhead turtles.

We avoid touristy things when possible. Getting into a boat with the crowds didn’t appeal to us. Instead we found a quaint restaurant along the Dalyan river with a view of the tombs. We sat there enjoying a nice quiet lunch while getting our shots of the tombs without jockeying for a good spot on a riverboat. The tombs, the main attraction in this village date back to circa 400BC. Even from across the river you could see they were spectacularly carved right into the cliffs. Interesting that we don’t create these architectural marvels for tombs anymore.


We discovered the name of the town has an interesting story. Dalyan, Turkish for fishing weir, is the name of this small town. It got it’s name from the practice of using fishing weirs by the towns people. Koycegiz Lake upstream is a spawning ground for Bass, Mullet and Sea Bream. When the fish head back down the river, on their return to the sea, they are caught in the dalyans by the locals.

Interesting tidbit –  the tombs are actually Lycian tombs in Kaunos but are known as the Dalyan Tombs because that is where the tours leave from. The tombs are actually in the ancient city of Kaunos and include ruins from a wall that once defended the city to the ancient tombs. The tombs carved into the steep limestone cliffs belong to noble families of Kaunos. According to mythology King Kaunos, grandson of Apollo, founded Kaunos.