Söke, Milas, Euromos Turkey
About 15km past Bafa Lake and 1 km south of the village of Selimiye, keep your eyes open for the picturesque Temple of Zeus, on the left-hand (eastern) side of the road in the midst of the ancient city of Euromos. Of the town, only the temple and a few scattered ruins now remain. The Corinthian columns set in an olive grove seem too good to be true, like a Hollywood set of a classical scene.
First settled in the 6th century BC, Euromos held a sanctuary to a local deity. With the coming of Greek, then Roman, culture, the local god's place was taken by Zeus. Euromos reached the height of its prosperity betvveen 200 BC and 200 AD. Emperor Hadrian (117-38 AD), who built so many monuments in Anatolia, is thought to have built this one as well. The several unfluted columns which remain suggest that the work was never finished.
If you're interested in ruins, you can clamber up the slopes to find other bits of the town. Look up behind the ticket booth at the big stone fortification wall on the hill-side. Climb up through the olive groves, go over the wall, and continue at the same alti-tude (the path dips a bit, which is OK, but don't climb higher). After 100 m you'll cross another stone wall and find yourself on flat ground which was the stage of the ancient theatre. It's badly ruined now, with olive trees growing among the few remaining rows of seats. Besides the theatre, the town's agora is down by the highvvay, with only a few toppled column drums to mark it.
The site is open from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm (7 pm in summer) for US$3. There are no services except soft drinks sales in summer only. To get here, take a bus or dolmuş between Söke and Milas and ask to get out at the ruins. Alternatively, take a dolmuş from Milas to Iasos, get out at the road junc-tion for Iasos and walk the short distance north along the highway until you see the Euromos ruins on the right.
Milas is about 12km south of Euromos, but before you arrive there you could divert to visit Iasos and Labranda.
About 4km south-east of Euromos (8km north-west of Milas) is a road on the right (west) marked for Kıyıkışlacık (Iasos), about 18km along a twisting road. The Turkish name means 'Little Barracks on the Coast', but Iasos was in fact a fine city set on its dramatic perch several centuries before Christ. Earliest settlement may date from the Old Bronze Age, and may have in-cluded a civilisation much like the Minoan one on Crete.
Today Iasos is a sleepy Aegean fıshing village set amid the tumbled ruins of an ancient city. As you approach it, past a cluster of visually unfortunate, half-built concrete villas, the road forks. The right fork leads to the Balıkpazarı Iasos Müzesi holding the village's most interesting ruin, a monumental Roman tomb; the left fork leads to the port, up över the hill and along the coast.
Iasos was built on a hill at the tip of a peninsula framed by two picture-perfect bay s. Excavations have revealed the city's bouleuterion and agora, a gymnasium, a basilica, a Roman temple of Artemis Astias (190 AD) and numerous other buildings besides the prominent Byzantine fortress.
Today the hill above the port is covered with ruins, including a walled acropolis-fortress (admission costs US$1 if there's anyone there to collect it). Olive groves sur-round the town, somehow taking purchase in the rocky soil, and reach nearly to its centre. South-west of the hill on the bay is a small yacht harbour. Fishing boats crowd the quay, and a handful of small pensions and restau-rants cater to travellers who want to get away from it ali for a few days. Have çipura (gilt head bream), if it's in season, at Iasos Deniz Restaurant, right down on the water, or at the less interesting Yıldız, behind it.
Climb the hill behind the restaurants to find the delightful Cengiz 252-537 7181) and Zeytin 252-537 7008) pensions, both clean and modern with simple rooms for US$50 a double, including breakfast. Their biggest pluses are the views down over Iasos to the sea. in the unlikely event that both these places are full, others were about to open at the time of writing. There were even rumours that the half-built concrete mon-strosities on the outskirts would soon be completed. Don't hold your breath.
Labranda - corinthia labranda
Labranda was a sanctuary to Zeus Stratius, controlled for a long time by Milas. There may have been an oracle here; it's certain-ly known that festivals and Olympic games were held at the site. Set into a steep hillside at 600m elevation in an area from which the ancient city of Mylasa and the modern town of Milas took their water supplies, Labranda today is surrounded by fragrant pine forests peopled by beekeepers. Late in the season (October) you can see their tents
pitched in cool groves as they go about their business of extracting the honey and ren-dering the wax from the honeycombs. It's a beautiful site, worth seeing partly because so few peopie come here.
The junction for the road to Labranda is 12km south of Euromos, just before Milas. It's 14km to the site: the first 6km are paved and easy to travel on, the remaining 8km are along a rough but scenic road deep in dust which winds tortuously up into the moun-tains. in rainy weather (October to April) the road turns to a slurry of mud that may require a 4WD. The village of Kargıcak is 8km along the way, and though you may be able to get a dolmuş from Milas to Kargıcak, that stili leaves 6km to walk. Hitching is possible but not at all reliable, particularly later in the day.
Labranda was a holy place, not a settle-ment, where worship of a god was going on by the 7th century BC, and perhaps long before. The site seems to have been aban-doned circa 1000 AD. Today a caretaker will welcome you, have you sign the guest book and show you around the site; he speaks only Turkish, with a few words of other languages, but the site is well marked.
The great Temple of Zeus honours the god's warlike aspect (Stratius, or Labrayn-dus, 'Axe-bearing'). Two men's religious gathering places, the First Andron and the Second Andron, are in surprisingly good condition, as is a large 4th century tomb of fine construction, and other buildings. The nıins, excavated by a Swedish team in the early part of this century, are interesting, but it's the site itself, with its spectacular view over the valley, which is most impressive.