Herakleia

Distance 107 km - Time one way: 1 hour 35 min

You reach Herakleia via Bodrum and Milas. There you turn to north in direction of Söke/Izmir. This street will be extended to 4 lanes, too, so that the time to go there will be shorter soon. On the way it will be worthwile to see the excavations of Euromos. In about 32 km after Milas you turn right. The signpost to Herakleia is brown. Today the place is named Kapikiri.

 It`s a pity to pay only a short visit to Herakleia. This touristically to a far extended undeveloped place of great historical importance admidst a wild and fascinating landscape is singular and only to explore with a great sacrifice of time. Nowhere you will feel the past, the nature and the origins of the Western Turkey so intensively as here. Nowhere you can duplicate the antique belief in gods as intensively as here.

Originally Herakleia was a bay and an important port of the Mediterranian Sea. The people of Caria, who settled down here in antique times, carried on trade with olives, wine and honey, also with marble out ofthe twi big marble quarries that existed here in antique times. This marble was used for the famous temples of Didyma and the big buildings of the nearby town of Milet. However human being had to surrender to nature in spite of his efforts to maintain the access to the sea and to Herakleia. Today the "Bafa-Lake" is an inland lake and only the little content of salt in the water reminds of the former belonging to the Mediterrian Sea. However, in 17 A.D. a heavy earthquake, which caused big dislocations of soil, changed the whole area of Latmos. The Mäander deposited a big quantity of diluvial material, so that the access to the sea was cut off completely in the end in spite of intensive efforts. Herakleia lost more and more importance during the following centuries. Today the once powerful river of Mäander , which was used for shipping, is only an unimportant streamlet.

The mountains of Latmos appear threatening and impressive. They rise from sealevel up to a height of 1375 m with their "five fingers". No wonder that the Kares and Romans supposed the residence of the Gods to be there and even the early Christians went up there in petitionary processions, f.e. a group of inhabitants of Milet after an extraordinary dryness had caused times of distress. They climbed up to an immense stone at the top of the mountain, which was venerated in the Christian times, too. It was said about the stone to have given inspiration and the talent of healing to the abbots of the Latmos monastaries.

Beneath the Agora at the foot of the mountain the sanctuary of Selene, the godess of the moon was located. She is said to have narcotized her lover to protect him from growing old. The legend relates, that he is preserving his youth and beauty sleep even today, only interrupted by the visits of the godess who is always accompanied by the erots.....

There is another legend told on behalf of this sanctuary, the Endymion, also honoured by the early Christians: The godess of the moon, Selene, discovered one night a sleeping shepard named Endymion and fell frantically in love with him. Zeus turned in jealous raging and punished the shepard under a curse never to wake up again from his sleep. Since that time Endymion is sleeping at that place and is caught in his dreams. Selene is with him every night. Like this exactly fifty children were produced!

You won't find here a concentrated area of excavation. Herakleia passed on to the very original village of Kapikiri of today. All over the place there are relics of antitique buildings  to be found, overlooked by the temple of Athena showing still three outer walls. You have a marvellous view from there. It's a simple cubic temple. The walls still exist up to the height of the roof.

 

The playground of the school is situated on the former Agora. It's mighty supporting walls are still to be seen. 

The former city hall, the Buleuterion, is situated on the other side of the street behind some houses. The theatre some way up the hill beyond the meadow is not preserved well. Too many stones were used for other buildings. So much more impressive is the city wall with its many towers, once of hundred of them. This city wall is one of the best preserved in Turkey. The construction of the citadel is nearly fully preserved in the upper part as well as a tower.

The former town of Latmos can be found before you reach Kapikiri on the right above the street. Parts of the city wall as well as foundations of towers and houses are preserved. Further up the village after a long walk you find many ruins of monasteries where eremits and later on monks lived in early Christian times (9th century). At that time Herakleia was seat of the bishop, among others the monastery of the seven brothers, the Stylos-monastary and the Kiliselik monastary.

There are also to be found numerous buildings of Byzantine times, especially on the isles of the lake. In te village are offered mountain tours as well as tours on the lake which are recommandable, but it's done in a spartanic way.

Pre-historic rock and cave paintings, which cannot be dated yet, are interesting to see in that region, for example the cave of Göktepe near Sögütözü. You can reach them via Cavdar and a long walk.

 

Reference: The Latmos - by Anneliese Peschlow-Bindokat

                  An unknown mountain landscape  at the Turkish Western Coast.

                  Most informative!