Milas (MEE-lahs,) is a very old town. As Mylasa, it was capital of the Kingdom of Caria, except during the period when Mausolus ruled the kingdom from Halicarnassus (now Bodrum). Today
it's a fairly sleepy agricultural town, with many homes where carpets are handwoven. Since Milas is actually closer to the new Bodrum international airport than Bodrum itself, you could stay the night in Milas if you arrive late in high season when Bodrum is likely to be full.
Approaching Milas from Söke, you pass the new otogar on 19 Mayıs Bulvan lkm before coming to Labranda Bulvan to the left. To the right inönü Caddesi is marked for 'Şehir Merkezi' (City Centre). It's another l km to the centre of town at the Milas Belediye Parkı.
Milas' postal code is 48200.
Things to See
Coming into town from the otogar along inönü Caddesi, watch for signs pointing to the right for the Belediye and, opposite, turn left for the Baltalı Kapı, or 'Gate with an Axe'. Cross a small bridge and look left to see the well-preserved Roman gate, which has marble posts and lintel and Corinthian capitals. The eponymous double-headed axe is carved into the keystone on the northern side.
Return to the road and continue south past the forgettable museum, bearing right to the traffic roundabout, in the centre of which is a marble scale model of the Gümüşkesen monumental tomb next to the shady Milas Belediye Parkı.
Continue straight on for three blocks, turn right, then turn again at Gümüşkesen Caddesi to reach the tomb, 1.4km from the roundabout on a hill west of the centre.
The Gümüşkesen ('That which cuts silver' or, construed as Gümüşkese, 'silver purse') is a Roman monumental tomb dating from the İst century, thought to have been modelled on the great Tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus. As in the Mausoleum, Corinthian columns here support a pyramidal roof, beneath which is a tomb chamber, which you can enter. A hole in the platform floor allovved devotees to pour libations into the tomb to quench the dead soul's thirst.
You might also want to see some of Milas fine mosques, especially the Ulu Cami (1378) and Orhan Bey Camii (1330), built when Milas was the capital of the Turkish principality of Menteşe. The larger, more impressive Firuz Bey Camii (1394) was built shortly after Menteşe became part of the new and growing Ottoman Empire.
Like Muğla, Milas has held on to some of its older houses, and especially along Atatürk Bulvarı is some very impressive architecture dating back to the start of this century.
Places to Stay, Milas Hotels
Otel Arıcan (252-512 1215), next to the Hacı İlyas Camii (and, alas, its minaret)
Akdeniz (252-512 8661), across the street, is a distant second choice. The Yeni Hamamı, across Hacı tlyas Sokak from the Otel Ancan, fills the need for a Turkish bath.
A better option is Hotel Çınar (fax 252-512 2102, Kadıağa Caddesi 52), which offers much more congenial accommodation, with a lobby one flight up. Take a room at the back to avoid street noise
The plastic-looking Otel Sürücü (252-512 4001, fax 512 4000), on Atatürk Bulvarı opposite the statue of Atatürk, is slightly more comfortable, with bigger rooms than the Çınar or Turan
Places to Eat
The town's culinary offerings don't run much beyond pide. The market area has several pidecis where a pide and soft drink sell for US$2, including the locally es-teemed Pamukkale Pide Salonu. Otel Ancan has its own Arıcan Bolu Lokantası with soups, stews and kebaps. Beyaz Saray Pastahanesi overlooking the main junction looks promising but seems surprised to see foreign visitors. Eat early (before 7 pm), as these few places don't stay open late.
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.
Söke to Milas Turkey - Things to See
As you enter the village in summer, you may be asked to pay an admis sion fee of US$ 4. Bear right at the ticket booth, pass the Pelikan Restaurant, and you'll come to the Agora Restaurant. Park here and explore on foot.
A path behind the car park leads westward up to the Temple of Athena, on a promon-tory overlooking the lake. Also from the car park, paths lead eastward to the agora, the bouleuterion and then several hundred metres through stone-walled pastures and across a valley to the unrestored theatre. The badly ruined theatre is oddly sited, with no spectacular view. Its most interesting feature is the several rows of seats and flights of steps cut into the rock. You will also see many remnants of the city vvalls dating from 300 BC.
Much of the fun of a visit to Latmos is to observe Turkish village life. Beehives dot the fields, and camomile flowers (papatya) grow wild by the roadsides in spring and summer. During the day vvomen sit by the road, making lace which they then attempt to seli to passers-by. in the evenings villagers herd their animals along the main street.
When you're finished in the village, follow the road down to the lake, past the Endymion Temple built partly into the rock, the ruins of a Byzantine castle and the city's necropolis.
Down at the lakeside, near the ruins of a Byzantine church, are several small restau-rants for fısh (if they' ve caught any that day), including the Zeybek, Kaya and Selene. All offer camping and boat tours of the lake.
There's a small beach of white coarse sand. Just offshore is an 'island' which may be reached from the shore on foot as the level of the lake sometimes falls. Around its base are foundations of ancient buildings.
Places to Stay & Eat
Of the several pen-sions in the village the best is certainly the 14 room Agora Pansiyon (fax 252-543 5445),The pension and its restaurant are surrounded by flowers, and the owners have lots of information available for lovers of ruins or birds.
Söke to Milas, Söke Turkey
The 86km ride from Söke, near Selçuk and Kuşadası, to Milas takes only 1/4 hours if you go nonstop, but so many interesting detours are possible that it may take you several days.
About 29km south of Söke there is a road on the right for Akköy (7km), Miletus and Didyma, described above. Soon aftenvards, the highway skirts the southern shore of the huge Bafa Gölü (Bafa Lake). This was once a gulf of the Aegean Sea, but became a lake as the sea retreated. About 13km beyond the Akköy turn-off are several restaurants, motels and camping areas, most prominently the Turgut.
About 4km further south-east is a small island bearing traces of a ruined Byzantine monastery, and just beyond this is Ceri'nin Yeri, a restaurant serving sea bass, eel, çarp and grey mullet which find their way into the lake to spawn. Ceri's has a few pension and motel rooms, and a camp site as well. Sometimes you can arrange a boat trip to Herakleia.
Herakleia/Kapıkırı (Latmos - herakleia salbace)
At the south-eastern end of the lake is a village called Çamiçi, from which a paved road on the left is marked for Kapıkırı, 10 km to the north, though it's actually less than 9km; watch carefully for the sign which is easily missed. Minibuses from Söke or Milas will drop you at the road junction but you'll have to hike or hitch along the side road unless you manage to catch one of the very infrequent dolmuşes. At the end of the wonderful, twisting, rock-dominated road, you'll come to the ruins of Herakleia ad Latmos in and around the village of Kapıkın. Behind the village looms the dramatic, fıve peaked Beşparmak Dağı, the Five-fıngered Mountain (1500m). This was the ancient Mt Latmos.
History Latmos is famous because of Endymion, the legendary shepherd boy. The story relates how the handsome Endymion was asleep on Mt Latmos when Selene, the moon goddess, fell in love with him. Myths differ as to what happened next.
it seems that Endymion slept forever, and Selene (also called Diana) got to come down and sleep with him every night. She also saw to the care of his flocks, while he slept on. And that's about it.
Ringed by mountains, this area was one of refuge for Christian hermits during the Arab invasions of the 8th century AD, hence the ruined churches and monasteries. The monks reputedly thought Endymion a Christian saint because they admired his powers of self-denial, though catatonia seems a more appropriate word.