As one of the six principal cities of Lycia and one of the most powerful, Tlos is one of the oldest and largest settlements of Lycia and was eventually inhabited by Ottoman Turks, one of the few Lycian cities to continue its existence through the 19th century. There is evidence that Tlos was a member of the Lycian Federation from the 2nd century BC. Two wealthy philanthropists, one of which was Opramoas of Rhodiapolis, were responsible for much of the building in the 2nd century AD. A Jewish community is also known to have existed with its own magistrates.
Tlos lies on the east side of the Xanthos Valley and is dominated by its acropolis. This rocky outcrop slopes up from a plateau with a charming village but ends on the west, north and northeast in almost perpendicular cliffs. On its slope are several Lycian sarcophagi and many houses and temple-type rock-cut tombs cut into the face of the hill. The influence of many cultures upon Tlos has resulted in an interesting collage of structures.
Features of Tlos include:
Acropolis Hill - overlooks a lovely valley of fertile fields and orchards with mountains rising in the distance. Lots of Lycian rock-cut tombs and sarcophagi. Crowning the top is the fortress of Kanlı Ağı ('Bloody Chief Ali'), a notorious Ottoman feudal lord, built upon the foundations of a Lycian fortress. It was still in use in the 19th century also upon this hill are a Lycian wall and a Roman-era wall. Since early Lycian times, the city's settlement was probably concentrated on the southern and western slopes, for wide terraces with huge cisterns and the back walls of buildings carved from the rock are found there. The view from the top is spectacular with amazing 360-degree views over the Xanthos Valley and the surrounding mountains. Although the hill looks high, there is a good path and it is actually not difficult to get to the top.
An interesting tomb of Tlos is that of Bellerophon, a large temple-type tomb with an unfinished facade featuring a relief in its porch of the legendary (from Greek myth) hero Bellerophon riding Pegasus, the winged horse.
Located just under the Acropolis hill, from the Roman period is an amphitheatre. It had a seating capacity of 2,500, however, only the seats remain and the sporting area is being used as a farmer's field. Granite columns were found strewn about the area and these probably indicate that there was a columned portico standing at the north side of the area.
Running parallel to the stadium is what is assumed to have been a market building. This is a long 150-metre hall with two stories, over 30 feet wide. The building is constructed of carefully jointed ashlar masonry. At the south end is a wider building with several chambers and four large arched doors.
Tlos has two baths. the smaller stands right next to the larger bath (to its north). Even today, the larger bath is still a very impressive structure and consists of three large adjoining rooms of equal size. An apse with seven windows opens the easternmost room towards the south. The date of the baths is thought to be around the first half of the 2nd century AD.
To the north of the smaller bath stood a gymnasium. Also near the baths are the remains of a Byzantine church, temple and what is believed to have been the agora. The area thought to be the agora is located across the road from the amphitheatre.
A large Roman-era theatre with 34 rows of seats, with a portion of the stage building still standing and its many highly-decorated carvings scattered about. An inscription records donations for the theatre from private citizens, and it is also known from inscriptions that the theatre was under construction for at least 150 years.