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My Favourite Planet > English > Europe > Greece > Dodecanese > Kastellorizo > gallery
Kastellorizo, Greece Kastellorizo gallery 180 of 260

The 4th century BC Lycian rock-cut tomb on Kastellorizo island, Greece at My Favourite Planet

The Lycian rock-cut tomb (4th century BC), Kastellorizo.
  The Lycian rock-cut tomb, Kastelorizo island, Greece at My Favourite Planet

The Lycian rock-cut tomb (4th century BC), with its Doric facade carved out of the rockface directly below the Knights' Castle, is the only one in Greece.

Lycian tombs were richly decorated with paintings, reliefs and inscriptions, very few of which have survived centuries of weathering, plunder, vandalism and neglect. Over the years the tombs have been used to house people and animals and for storage. Many of the tombs' interiors have been badly charred by fire. Where the fires lit by past inhabitants for warmth and cooking, or set to deliberately deface the pagan imagery? A lot can happen in 2300 years.

This is the only known Lycian tomb in Greece, and as with most of the others on the Turkish mainland, it is not known exactly when, for whom or by whom it was built. Although the decoration has long vanished, the structure is in very good condition. The red colouring in the limestone, caused by iron in the rock, gives the surface an attractive natural patina. The skill of the craftsmen who carved such tombs from the rockface with such precision using primitive tools is very impressive.

The facade, typical of such tombs, is described as Doric because it resembles the columns and roof of Greek Doric temples. The Lycians were not Greeks; they had their own distinct culture and language, and are thought to have been an indigenous Anatolian people. Other theories include the idea that the area was settled by Minoans from Crete. They were certainly influenced by Greek architecture and adopted the Greek alphabet, adding six letters of their own. But how much the Greeks and Anatolian peoples influenced each other in matters of agriculture, technology, culture and religion is debatable.

The similarities in style and technique between such Lycian rock-cut architecture and the ancient Nabatean city of Petra (in modern day Jordan), carved out of desert cliffs, are obvious. It is often said that Petra was built by Greeks. But this building technique is not native to Greece, and it is seems more likely that specialists from Lycia were responsible. Greeks conquered Lycia under Alexander the Great in 334 BC (around the time this tomb was built), and it remained Greek until 1923 AD. Petra was built when Greece, much of western Asia and north Africa were under Roman control. Had Greeks taken over the Lycian building skills by this time, or were the indigenous craftsmen still in business? And to what extent did the Greeks and Lycians mix? The search for answers never ends on My Favourite Planet.

Map of Kastellorizo harbour, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Map detail: Kastellorizo harbour

1 main harbour of Megisti

2 police station, post office, municipal hotel

3 Agios Georgios church, Nikolaos Stamatiou school, travel agent

4 ferry landing, harbour police, tourist information, bank, duty free

5 coast guard, mosque, path to Lycian tomb

6 Megisti museum, path to Lycian tomb

7 Knight’s Castle, Saints Nicholas & Dimitrios, hamam, windmill

8 Horafia, Platea Panagia, churches, Santrapeia school, Despina sculpture,Taverna Mediterraneo

9 Mandraki harbour and cemetery

10 stairs to clifftop view
© David John
Beyond Kastellorizo's
main harbour:

the Lycian tomb


Knight's castle



up the cliff

Good night,
Maps, photos and articles: © David John,
except where otherwise specified.

Additional photos: © Konstanze Gundudis

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