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
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.
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 regions
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:
standing west of the town, is a memorial
tomb thought to be a small replica of the
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
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
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
Uzunyuva, "the long nest"
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
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
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.
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,
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
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
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.
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
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
The major buildings of the ancient city are located
on the peninsula and consist of: Thearched gate
opens on the agora.
The stoas around the agora date back
to the Roman period (130 BC) Thebouleuterion
has, at its eastern corner, a rectangular building
with columns in the front called Caesareon. TheTemple
of Artemis Astias is located in the south-western
corner of the agora. TheHellenistic
theater to which additions were made
during the Roman period. Themedieval tower,
located on the highest point, has 2 m/ 7.8 inches
thick walls. There is a water cistern inside. Theharbour
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,
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 fishermens
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
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
Theatre is located on the hillside
overlooking Bodrum. Built in the time of
Mausolus, it is one of the very few surviving
in Asia Minor and thus one of the oldest.
It had a seating capacity of about 13.000
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
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.