Çamiçi Lake is also known as Bafa Lake. The lake, abounding with fish, is located in the south of the Meander plain and faces the ancient Mount Latmos (Besparmak Mountains). Originally it was a gulf in the sea blocked up by the alluvium of the Meander River. It has now become a freshwater lake.

The old village of Kapikiri, located on the north-eastern shore of the lake, mingles with the ruins of Heracleia by Latmos. The ancient city was a port built by the Ionians at the bottom of the Gulf of Latmos.

The ruins of Heraclia spread around this charming village

After taking part, with Miletus and other cities, to the Ionian revolt against the Persians, in the 4C BC Heracleia came under the domination of Carian ruler Mausolus who changed its name to Heracleia by Latmos in order to differentiate it from other cities bearing the same name. Taken by Alexander the Great, the city was surrounded by 6.5 km/ 4 miles long defense walls supported by 65 towers. During this period the city developed its maritime trade. However towards the end of the 1C AD, the decline came with the silting up of the gulf. Christianity spread early in this wild region, and anachorite monks and settled in the caves of the mountain. Byzantine monasteries were built on the shore and islets of the lake. The remains of one of them can be seen on the islet facing the village.

Among the Hellenistic ruins of the city laid out on a hippodamian plan, are the Temple of Athena in antis, the Theater, the Bouleuterion, the Agora, the city walls and the Endymion Sanctuary.

It was on Mount Latmos that Selene, who was the Moon Goddess and twin sister to Helios (sun) and Eos (dawn), found young and handsome Endymion the sheperd asleep in a cave, and fell madly in love with him.
Selene started to visit him every night, but Endymion each time dreamt that he was embracing a beautiful creature in the middle of green meadows... As the Greek gods and goddesses did not age and die, Selene begged Zeus to grant Endymion eternal youth and life so she might be able to love him forever, and so he would be living in the eternal happiness with her in his dreams. From this most unusual love story Selene bore fifty daughters!!!


Milas, the second largest town in the province of Mugla, is reputed for the carpets which are hand woven in the surrounding villages (Karacahisar, Gereme...). Carpet making has been a tradition in the region since the 18th century. In Milas, the old traditional Turkish houses with carved timbers, latticed windows and small inner yards, as well as the “Hungarian houses” inspired by European architecture and built during the initial years of the Republic, provide examples of the local architectural style.

Ancient Mylasa became the capital of Caria under the Persian rule in the 6C BC. The city, which took part in the Ionian rebellion and the Persian Wars in the 5C BC, joined the Attica-Delos Naval Confederacy in 446 BC. It was taken by Alexander the Great who placed Ada, the Queen of Caria, in charge of the region’s administration. After 143 BC Mylasa became the headquarters for the courts run by Roman governors, and became part of the Roman Province of Asia when Attalus III bequeathed the Kingdom of Pergamum to Rome. During the Byzantine period, Mylasa became a bishopric centre. Following the Manzikert Battle in 1071, the Seljuk Turks spread widely in Anatolia. During their decline in 1284, the region was dominated by Mentese Bey (Beg) who set up the Menteseoğullari Emirate with Milas as the capital. The capital was later moved to the heights of Beçin for defense purposes. In 1392 Milas came under Ottoman rule. With the proclamation of the Republic, it became a district under the Province of Mugla.

The main curiosities of Milas are:

Gümüskesen, standing west of the town, is a memorial tomb thought to be a small replica of the famous Halicarnassus Mausoleum which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The mausoleum is estimated to have been built in the 2C AD but its owner has not been identified. Its pyramid-shaped roof is supported by pillars and columns (one third of their shaft is fluted) with Corinthian capitals.

Baltali Gate, or the Gate with Axe, takes its name from the double axe relief on the keystone of the arch. This gate was part of the aqueduct which brought water to the ancient city. It is not known whether the gate was also part of the city walls, as long as no remains of them have been found, or was a gate erected by the city in the honor of an emperor. However, because of the eyes engraved on the double axe (the symbol of Zeus Labrandos), it is thought that the gate might have carried a symbolic cult meaning, as the eyes look in the direction of Labranda (see below) so that the god could keep watch on the sacred way and protect the people going to attend the festival held every year in Labranda. The capitals of the piers are decorated with flutes and palmettes, thus reminding of the capitals of Gümüskesen memorial tomb which means that the gate was also erected at the same period, in the 2 century AD.

The Temple of Zeus Carius, raised on a podium, is located on the hill to the west of Hisarbasi. Only one corinthian column, called “uzunyuva” (the long nest) by the locals, has survived.

The Jewish Cemetary is located close to Gümüskesen. This old cemetary seems to have been abandoned in the 1950's as all the dates written on the tombs are anterior to this period.

Uzunyuva, "the long nest"

Jewish Cemetary's

tomb stones

The Kursunlu Mosque was commissioned by Firuz Bey, a Menteseogullari governor, in 1394. The mosque, whose dome is covered with lead (kursunlu), has a reverse T plan and a special entrance porch. The mosque exhibits very refined stone masonry and calligraphic inscriptions. The garden is surrounded by medrese rooms.
Two other mosques from the same period are the Great Mosque (Ulu Camii, 1378), the Mosque of Orhan Bey (1330).

Çöllüoglu Caravanserai , built in 1720 by the Ottomans, has two storeys rising on a rectangular plan. Building materials from previous buildings were reused in the construction of the caravanserai.

Milas Museum displays the findings excavated in the region.

A colorful and typical Turkish weekly market (pazar) is held on tuesdays in Milas. This is one of the biggest and cheapest markets in this region.

Beçin is located on a 200 m / 660 ft high steep rock, 5 km/ 3 miles south of Milas on the road to Ören. The place has very old origins and is also referred to Pezona, Bercin and Peçin by various historical sources. In the 13th century, the Menteseoğullari made Milas their capital then moved to Beçin which was easier to defend. Beçin remained the capital throughout the rule of Ahmet Ghazi. Upon his death, the region was conquered by Ottoman Beyazid I. Besides the fortress dating back to the Menteseoğullari period, is the medrese, which was built by Ahmet Ghazi in 1375.

His grave, covered with a high dome, can be seen opposite the entrance gate. One will see also the remains of a large public bath, and the foundations and the marble gate of Orhan Bey Mosque.

In the region of Milas, many archaeoligical sites can be found such as Heracleia by Latmos, Alinda, Labranda, Euromos, Iassos and Bargylia.

Ancient Euromos, located 12 km /7.5 miles north to Milas, was the most important city after Mylasa. The ruins spread on a wide area, but the most interesting part is just off the main road: here stands the 2C AD Temple of Zeus, a Roman peripteral temple, which is one of the best preserved temples in all of Turkey. It stood on a stylobate that measured 14.5 x 27 m/ 47 x 88 ft. Sixteen of the original columns are still standing with their splendid Corinthian capitals. The three columns on the south side and the one at the south-western corner are unfluted, probably because the decoration work was left unfinished. Dedicatory inscriptions can be seen on most of the columns facing north and west. Five of them were presented by physican and magistrate Menecrates and his daughter, and seven by Leo Quintus, another magistrate.
On the hillside to the east and a little above the plain lay the ruins of the theatre. The agora on the flat ground is surrounded by a stoa with some of the columns still standing. Further west there is another stoa. On one of its pillars there is a long inscription recording the financial assistance of a certain Callisthenes to the city and his alliance with Iassos.

Labranda is located in the Çomak Mountains 14 km/ 9 miles northeast of Milas. The winding road leading to Labranda is in a very bad state because of the trucks coming and going to the surrounding quarries, so it is recommended to drive cautiously. A normal car is okey, but a 4x4 is far better to get there. Anyway the great scenic beauty of the site compensates for the bad road.

In the 6C and 5C BC, Labranda was already renowned for its sanctuary dedicated to Zeus Stradios Zeus Labraundos), a deity worshipped only by the Carians, who seems to have been their war-god as Carian coins show him carrying a double axe (labrys) and a spear. At the time, the temenos (the sacred area of the sanctuary) consisted of a temple on an artificial terrace. In 497 BC the Carian army, defeated by Persian Darius I, together with their Miletian allies retreated through the 8 m/ 26 ft wide Sacred Road (whose pavements are still discernible) which connected Mylasa to the sanctuary, and collected together at Labranda in order to get reorganized. However, pursued by the Persians, during the battle which took place in the holy area, the Carians were definitively defeated. In 355 BC, during one of the festivals held in honor of Zeus Labraundos, Mausolus (377-353 BC) was saved from an assassination attempt at the last minute. To show his gratitude towards the god, he had the sanctuary enlarged and enhanced with a number of artificial terraces and monuments.

Zeus Labrandos
Coin minted in the time of Mausolus

Mausolus’ brother Idrieus (351-344 BC) carried on the building work which was interrupted upon his death. A few years later, following a great fire, the sanctuary was no longer used as a cult center.
The buildings of main significance are:
The small Doric house located east of the southern propylon (entrance building). During the Roman period, this building was added to the bath complex.
The monumental stairway that gives access to the central terrace.
Two large dining halls called “Andron”: the Andron of Mausolus (Andron B) with the square cella and the wide, rectangular niche, resembles a temple. The Andron of Idrieus (Andron A) is the best preserved building within the temenos. They are both built on the same plan.
The Temple of Zeus is located on the uppermost terrace. It was built in two phases in the 4C BC. The second phase transformed it into a peripteral temple in the Ionic order: a row of columns, 6 in front and 8 on the sides, as well as an opisthodomos were added to the cella. An inscription informs us that this temple was sanctified by Idrieus.
The Oikoi are two rectangular rooms located behind the porch with 4 Doric columns between the Androns. They may have been used as an archive building.
The rock-cut tomb, located on the slope above the temple, has two vaulted rooms.
200 m/ 656 ft to the west of the sanctuary, lies the 176 m/ 192.5 yards long stadium whose back side is reinforced with a retaining wall. The starting and end stones used for the races are still discernible at both ends. It seems that various sport events and competitions were organized in the stadium during the five-day festivals at the sanctuary.

This bearded sphinx is one of the
corner acroters which ornemented the
pediment of the Andron of Mausolus
(St Peter Castle - Bodrum)

Iassos is located 28 km/ 17.5 miles west of Milas within the village of Kiyikislacik. Archaeological evidences like Minoan type houses and Mycenaen pottery show that previous settlements already existed long before colonists from Argos founded Iassos in the 9C BC. It was later inhabited by emigrants from Miletus . Originally Iassos was located on an island which, with the silting up of the isthmus, became a small peninsula. Fishing played an important role in the life of the local population who also seemed to be very attached to the dolphins. A tale relates that a young boy used to swim with a dolphin who carried him away and then returned him safely. According to Plinius, Alexander the Great, so charmed with this story, took the youth along with him and made him a priest of Poseidon, the Sea God. Some of the coins discovered at Iassos show a boy swimming beside a dolphin, with an arm over its back. The chief divinities were Artemis Astias (an old Carian goddess merged with Artemis) and Apollo, however Dionysus was also held in great importance: the theatre was dedicated to him and a festival was held in his honor.

The major buildings of the ancient city are located on the peninsula and consist of:
The arched gate opens on the agora. The stoas around the agora date back to the Roman period (130 BC)
The bouleuterion has, at its eastern corner, a rectangular building with columns in the front called Caesareon.
The Temple of Artemis Astias is located in the south-western corner of the agora.
The Hellenistic theater to which additions were made during the Roman period.
The medieval tower, located on the highest point, has 2 m/ 7.8 inches thick walls. There is a water cistern inside.
The harbour lies between the peninsula and the mainland. Of the two towers built at the mouth of the harbour in medieval times, only one has subsisted. A chain was stretched across these two towers to control the entrance of the harbour.

In addition to the city walls is an another approximately 3.5 km/ 2.2 miles long ramparts in the north-west of the city.
The aqueducts, necropolis and the building called the fish market (Fish Market Open-Air Museum) are located outside the walls. To the west of the Roman necropolis, on the slopes, there are rock and house tombs. The most famous tomb is a Corinthian mausoleum in the fish market.

The excavations at Iassos were started in 1960 by an Italian archaeological team headed by Prof. Dr. Doro Levi, and are presently carried out by Dr. Fede Berti.


According to the famous traveler-historian-philosopher Herodotus*, ancient Halicarnassus was founded in an area called Caria by Dorians who mixed with the native populations called Lelegians and Carians. With Cnidus, Cos on the island of the same name, Camirus, Lalysus and Lindus on Rhodes Island, Halicarnassus belonged to the Dorian confederacy. In the middle of the 6C BC, Halicarnassus came under Persian domination but was ruled through native tyrants (the first one was Lygdamos) centered in Mylasa. His daughter, Queen Artemisia I, backed Xerxes during his expedition against Greece but they were defeated in the Salamis Naval Battle (480 BC) and as a result, Halicarnassus came under the domination of the Athenians. In 386 BC, following a peace agreement, Caria came again under Persian control and was put under the administration of an old Carian dynasty, who lived in Mylasa. Hecatomanus, who ruled with the Persian title of satrap, had three sons, Mausolus, Idrieus and Pixodarus, and two daughters, Artemisia II and Ada. After his father's death in 377 BC, satrap Mausolus transfered the capital of Caria to Halicarnassus. When Mausolus became so powerful that he regained his title of king and achieved a virtual independence, the city enjoyed its greatest prosperity. In 353 BC, upon his death, his sister and wife queen Artemisia II who was famous for her naval victory over the Rhodians, erected a monument to her husband's memory, the Mausoleum, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Upon the death of Idrieus, his sister and wife Ada ruled until Pixodarus, a faithful ally of the Persians, sent her to exile in Alinda. In 334 BC when Alexander the Great seized the city helped by Ada, the latter was restored on the throne. Halicarnassus was successively incorporated to the Roman, Byzantine and Seljuk Empires, to the Turkish Mentese Emirate and to the Ottoman Empire under Bayezit I. In 1404 Halicarnassus, now called Bodrum by the Turks, was seized by the Knights of Rhodes who built the St Peter Castle. In 1523 Süleyman the Magnificent expelled the Knights from Bodrum and later from Rhodes.

* Herodotus (about 490/485 - 425/420 BC), after taking part in an uprising against the ruling tyrant Lygdamis, was forced to leave his native city Halicarnassus (about 457 BC), for the island of Samos. From there, he undertook journeys to Egypt, Lybia, Phoenicia, Babylon, Asia Minor, Scythia and Colchis (Black Sea Region) , Sparta, Athens, the Athenian colony of Thourioi (Thurii in southern Italy) where he probably spent the rest of his life. Herodotus, known as the Father of History, wrote the “Histories”, published between 430 and 424 BC and divided later into nine books named after the Muses. The book, which describes the expansion of the Persian Achaemenid Empire and the Persian Wars ending with the Greek victories, includes valuable ethnographical and ethnological information.

Bodrum, which has been declared a historic preservation zone, has a special architecture (houses are generally white-washed and cannot exceed two stories to harmonize with the traditional environment). Today Bodrum has become an extremely fashionable holiday resort. It is a starting point for cruises in the Gökova Gulf, and to discover the numerous beautiful bays of the peninsula. A car ride helps visit the region, see the disused old windmills lining the ridge of hills, and enjoy the atmosphere of seaside and fishing villages: Gümüslük, Gündogan, Gölköy, Türkbükü with their friendly taverns and seafood restaurants, Yalikavak with its typical streets...

When Cevat Sakir Kabaagaçli, the son of an Ottoman diplomat graduate from Oxford, was exiled to Bodrum in 1924 for a period of three years (in fact reduced to one and a half years) because he had written a story setting people against war, he fell in love with the place and elected to remain there for most of the rest of his life. Bodrum was then a simple and remote place where people lived on fishing and sponge-diving. Under the name "Fisherman of Halicarnassus” using a poetic language, in his numerous novels, stories or articles that reflect his deap culture, he wrote about the Anatolian Civilizations, the beauty and richness of western Anatolia, the humanism of the Aegean people. He introduced new fishing techniques, planted trees and worked hard to embellish and make Bodrum known. In the early 1960s a group of intellectuals from Istanbul, in search of aesthetic ecstasy and spiritual purification, began to visit him in Bodrum. He initiated them to the "Blue Voyage" sailing on a simple boat, where they discovered the natural beauty and the historic richness of south-western Aegean. Later they experienced staying in fishermen’s houses, paying for their room and board (Turkish pansyon). A new fashion was launched. The middle Turkish class elected Bodrum to spend their holiday and Bodrum rapidly became the principal vacation haven of western Turkey.

“Blue voyage” on board a gulet, a traditional wooden yacht with two masts
St Peter Castle is a good example of Frankish architecture in Orient. Building material partly comes from the ruins of the Mausoleum (large slabs of greenish granite). On the ramparts and above the gates the coats-of arms of the Order of the Hospitaliers, Grand Masters (like Pierre d’ Aubusson, Emery d’ Amboise) and commandants of the place can be seen. The castle has five turrets each called by the nationality of the knights: the English, French, German, Italian and Spanish Towers. In the inner moat are the Caretto and Gatineau Towers. Between 1513 and 1522 the Gatineau tower was used as a dungeon and torture chamber. Important persons were imprisoned here. One of them was Oruç Reis, the elder brother of the famous Great Admiral Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha. On his return voyage from the Trablussam victory, he was attacked by the Knights. His brother Ilyas was killed in the battle and Oruç Reis was wounded and taken prisoner. He remained in captivity from 1503 to 1506, spending the first year of his imprisonment in the castle dungeon where he was tortured. The Knights later transferred him to the island of Rhodes. When the Knights finally surrendered on the 20th of December 1522 and the castle was handed over on the 5th of January 1523, the Turks proceeded to bury the shameful room beneath a 3 meter thick stone wall in order to erase it from history. The Turkish bath, which is the only building constructed by the Turks within the castle, stands at the south of the Gothic chapel.

Coatsof arms of the knights of the Order of St John
and Ottoman naval and army flags

The Bay of Bodrum opens onto the Gulf of Gökova

The castle houses a Museum with a section displaying very interesting Underwater Archeology findings comprising treasures from a series of historic shipwrecks (wrecks, glass artifacts and a large number of amphoras of various origins).The oldest shipwreck is the Uluburun Shipwreck dating from the 14th century BC (left photo). When the ship sank, it carried 20 tons of raw material such as copper ingots, tin and glass, ebony logs, amphoras of resin, ivory, ostrich eggshells, foodstuffs, spices and valuables fit for a king...
The Carian Princess Hall : in 1989 a burial chamber was accidentally discovered near the ancient necropolis. The excavations revealed an intact sarcophagus containing the well-preserved skeleton of a woman surrounded by gold jewellery and ornaments (and the bones of a mouse trapped in the tomb). A painstaking reconstruction of the head of the deceased was carried out by the Department of Forensic Science of the University of Manchester Medical School in collaboration with the Museum of Manchester University. The age at death has been estimated approximately at 44 years. The bones were dated to 360-325 B.C.. This woman is thought to be Ada, the last Hecatomnid ruler of Caria, sister of Mausolus. The Carian Princess is exhibited in a banqueting hall, similar to the Andron of Mausolus in Labranda, greeting the guests dressed in a floating garb with the gold ornaments. Wine is served in a trefoil-mouthed jar (oinochoe). On the right of the hall, stands the tomb with the skeleton of Ada (and the bones of the mouse). The inscription over the tomb says "Rest in Peace". Incense is burned at the head of the tomb kept by sacred eels with golden earrings.
The Mausoleum, King Mausolus’ tomb, is at the origin of the funerary monuments of great dimensions and somptuous architecture. The Mausoleum had a length of about 40 m/131 ft, a width of 30 m / 99 ft, and a height of 45 m /148 ft. It consisted of a stepped base and a burial chamber topped by 36 Ionic columns. These were surmounted by a pyramid roof crowned with a marble quadriga (four forsed chariot) with the figures of Mausolos and Artemisia, work of the sculptor Phytheus who, with the architect Satyrus drew up the plans of the monument. The base was adorned with a frieze executed by four famous sculptors, one per side: Scopas, Bryaxis, Timotheus and Leochares. Classical writers were most impressed by these sculptures. The Mausoleum dominated the city at least until the 12th century. By the early 15th century it lay in ruins due to earthquakes, and the Knights of Rhodes reused the stones in the construction of the castle. In the 1850s Charles Newton discovered the site of the Mausoleum with the remains of the flight of steps and tomb chamber. The fragments of the frieze and the statues of Mausolus and Artemis he excavated, were sent to the British Museum in London. In 1966 a Danish Team started Modern studies and excavations of the site. Today a great depression marks the position of the Mausoleum. Main steps on the west side of the depression lead to the tomb of Mausolus. The huge block of grey stone which blocked the entry to the tomb can still be seen on the site.

General view of the site of the Mausoleum and Mausolus' tomb chamber (below)

Reconstruction of the Mausoleum
The Theatre is located on the hillside overlooking Bodrum. Built in the time of Mausolus, it is one of the very few surviving pre-Hellenistic theaters in Asia Minor and thus one of the oldest. It had a seating capacity of about 13.000 spectators.

The Myndos gate is located on the west side of Bodrum. It is the only surviving monumental gate of ancient Halicarnassus and was part of the 7 km / 4,35 miles long town walls built by King mausolus in the 4th century BC. The gate, made of andesite stone blocks, is named Myndos because it faces the ancient port of Myndos (today Gümüslük).

Bodrum has a domestic and international airport. Boats link Bodrum to Datça and hydrofoils link Bodrum to Marmaris and to the Greek Islands of Cos and Rhodes. The International Bodrum Sailing Cup takes place every year in October.