Saturday, 29 December 2012

Flamingoes Instead Of Turkey.

When Christmas morning starts with a sky this blue, it would be sacrilege to waste the day getting hot and bothered in a kitchen.  Tradition was thrown to one side and we headed off to Tuzla to walk  the dog and watch the flamingoes. Lunch was fish and salad beside the sea. Not a turkey in sight. 

The first Christmas lunch I cooked in Turkey was in 1983. My parents had arrived a few days before to celebrate with us and we soon twigged that finding a turkey in the butchers was not going to happen.  My soon-to-be husband hadn't met my family before and my folks hadn't ever been to Turkey but my father still remembers the day we went on the "turkey hunt" as a surreal experience and it proved a good ice-breaker.   We heard that a farmer in Turgutreis  had raised a few birds and was willing to sell them.  In those days Turgutreis was a one road town and we had to head inland among the orange grove paths to find the farm. After much meandering we did track down the small holding and the farmer was willing to part with a bird. He lead us through his gardens, showed us where the turkeys were grazing and said we could take our pick. We did and then had to catch it.  I think the farmer should have paid us for the hilarity we obviously caused him but we did eventually get our prize.  I'd only been cooking for a couple of years and plucking and gutting a turkey was not something I'd done before, but between us, we managed it.  It didn't much resemble the traditional roast we were used to. It must have done a lot of running in its short life because apart from two large legs, there wasn't much meat on the carcass and it only just fed the 4 of us.  Since that lunch, I've never been that keen on turkey meat so I am always happy to give tradition a miss on Christmas day.  

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Greetings.

The mince pies are made, the truffles are in the fridge and the gingerbread was finished off days ago.  Christmas day is a normal working day in Turkey but the expats have been busy with Christmas fairs and markets.  The annual Carol Singing was held on Friday night which got everyone in the festive mood.  I've asked several people and no one can be quite sure when the first carol singing event started in Bodrum, but it's been going for at least 20 to 25 years. I've missed the last 13 years but I don't think the song sheet has changed while I've been away.  It began to raise money for the Orphanage in Muğla but for the last few years, the proceeds have stayed on the Bodrum peninsula and been donated to the Special Needs school in Yahşi.
This year's format was a bit different with a junior choir starting the proceedings, then the rest of us got a chance to waggle our vocal chords, lubricated with ample mulled wine.

The Junior Chorus

Priscilla and Geoff
Stalwarts of Carol Concert organization

Christmas Greetings. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Syangela - Alazeytin Castle.

At the weekend the rain clouds retreated and the sun came out again.  After a week of urban walking it was a chance to get back to the countryside and resume Jake the dog's archaeological education. 
We headed out towards Çiftlik with the aim of visiting Syangela.  As usual we got lost, argued about whose fault it was that we'd got lost, back-tracked to the Town Council building in Yalı where a very helpful Osman showed me the route on Google earth, printed out a map and smilingly sent me on my way.  

Syangela is one of eight Lelegian towns around Bodrum. Not much is known about the history of these sites, but they pre-date the Carian cities and were probably at their most populous from the 7th to 4th centuries BC.  We know from Strabo that Mausolus, the Carian ruler, forced the citizens of all the Lelegian towns except Myndos and Syangela to move to Halikarnasus (Bodrum) in the 4th century BC.  It is also on record that Syangela  had a governor called Pigres, paid a tribute of a talent as a member of the Delian League and minted silver coins with griffin heads in 500BC.   All the Lelegian sites are found on hills with panoramic views and sturdy defensive walls with frequent look-out towers surrounding their houses. This didn't however prevent the city being sacked by the Persians.  The wall that Jake is standing beside below is  a typical Lelegian wall:  built using roughly dressed smallish stones. 

This is a good site to compare the Lelegian and Carian building styles. In the centre of Syangela there is a single tower (below) obviously Carian in style with its much larger well dressed stones.

Having said all this, there is also the possibility that this isn't the site of Syangela at all. In recent years, a new discovery has cast doubt on the identification of the remains. Either way it's a pleasant walk to a Lelegian fortress.

Update - 20/2/15  - I've just been to wonderful lecture on  The Lelegians by Dr. Adnan Diler and was able to ask my question about Syangela directly.  It seems that Syangela was originally founded on Kaplan Dağ, close to but not at Alazeytin and was moved by Mausolus to the site now called Theangela.   

The route:  From Bodrum follow the signs to Yalı-Çiftlik.  After Kızılağac village look out for a left turning sign-posted to Alazeytin. Follow this road up through the trees and the first houses of Alazeytin and you come to a junction - the road divides into three. You can't miss it as there is a stone quarry and a flag pole in front of you.  Take the right hand road. It's quite rough so you may want to leave your car just after this turning. Follow this  track passing a house on the left, then a white building on the right and you will come to a track leading to a few houses on the right. You can park here if your car has made it this far.  Walk towards these houses and at the large covered well on the right, turn left and follow the garden wall. By the time you get to the end of the wall and turn right you will see a tractor track leading up the hill to the site. 

Monday, 17 December 2012

Strawberry Tree - The Song

Thanks to Helen and Alan for pointing out that there is an Irish folk song with the Mountain Strawberry (arbutus) tree in the title. I hadn't heard it before and in case you haven't either - here it is.

Watch "Traditional - My Love's an Arbutus" on YouTube 

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Mountain Strawberry for Christmas

We are coming up to our first Christmas in Turkey for 13 years and I'm in a quandary over what kind of tree to put up.  In the past we cut large branches from the pines or dug up one of the seedlings in the garden. This December, after the great clearance, both are in short supply.  At this time of year, nature does provide a beautifully decorated evergreen tree that would be perfect as a Noel decoration. The Strawberry tree (Arbutus Unedo) grows to 10 meters tall but in this part of the world is rarely more than 3 metres high.  Its pale green or white bell-like flowers take a year to mature so are on the tree at the same time as the fruit. Bright yellow when unripe, the fruit turns a vivid red when ready to eat.  I wouldn't cut a whole tree but a few branches in a large vase would look stunning. 

Opinion is divided over whether these fruits are edible or not.  Pliny the Elder called them "unum edo" i.e. you only eat one of them and they are described in Wikipedia as being "mealy and bland" but if you pick them just before they are very ripe, they have quite an exotic taste - a cross between a guava and a nectarine.  When not eaten fresh they are used in Bodrum to make jam, but in Spain and Portugal they are turned into a fiery spirit.  Once ripe, these fruit quickly ferment  and the mountain strawberry has gained the reputation of making the over-consumer drunk.  Hubby and I polished off the berries below but unfortunately experienced no signs of inebriation.  Shame - we'll have to pick a few more next time. 

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Bodrum Fridays

Looking back over the last few months' posts, a stranger to Bodrum would assume that apart from walking, there wasn't much to do in South West Turkey in the winter. Here is a quick round up in an attempt to correct  this misleading impression.

Four Fridays ago, I was at the Ramada Resort Hotel in Gümbet for the annual Ladies' Lunch. Initiated  in the year 2000 by Jane Baxter Gerçeksöz and Priscilla Windsor-Brown, this event gives women on the peninsula a chance to get together at the end of the season and either see old friends or meet new ones. (A double barrelled surname is not a prerequisite). Their aim is for everyone to go away having made one new acquaintance. It started the year I left Bodrum so as this was my first time, I made sure I met several new faces to make up for the years I couldn't attend. 

Three Fridays ago, I was at Muğla University's new Fine Arts Faculty on the Bodrum Peninsula, attending an archaeological lecture  by Mr Aykut Özet entitled "The Seven Gods of Bodrum". The first of a series of talks organised by H3A, the Bodrum equivalent of the University of the Third Age. Click on the link to get an idea of the range of activities available through this group.

Two Fridays ago, I was back at the Ramada Resort Spa. The entrance ticket to the Ladies lunch included a free day's use of the hotel spa. We had the pool, steam room, Turkish bath and sauna to ourselves. There is also a very up-market gym, which I didn't try out as I was too busy flopping about in the warm pool.

Last Friday, I started the day having my back massaged by Tülay at Zen Natural Therapies, thanks to winning a free treatment in the ticket tombola  at the Ladies' Lunch ( that really was 50TL well spent) and the afternoon to the university again for a talk on the development of the Ottoman empire. I could have gone to the monthly Internations drinks party in the evening, but this county mouse had had enough activity by then.

(Tulay doesn't have a web page but is an expert in Reiki Healing, Reflexology and aromatherapy massage. Her number is 0533 713 44 73)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

A Promise Kept.

In  October I wrote that despite tree clearance and a new road being driven through the ex-forest next to our house, the forestry workers had promised that the land would be replanted. Having lived long enough to have developed a healthy sceptical disregard for official promises, I have been expecting builders to turn up and develop the land into either housing or worse-still, a factory.  I'm extremely happy therefore to swallow my cynicism, chuck out my pessimism and re-embrace my inner Pollyanna. About 3 weeks ago a mysterious white line appeared dividing the cleared land in half, then an announcement  boomed discordantly from the village loudspeaker system telling us that the forestry commission wanted to recruit temporary workers  (35TL a day - about £12.50 - roughly the minimum wage in Turkey). A week later the saplings started being delivered and ever since an ever-changing group of men, women and children have been planting fir trees on the southern side of the white line.  

Two days ago, a more professional-looking, hard-hatted, florescent-tabarded crew of men arrived and started planting carob trees on the north side of the line.  I can't find out how long it takes a carob tree to mature but in a few years our bare expanse of mud is going to look very different.  I withdraw all my brickbats and send laudations and much gratitude to the Forestry Commission. 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Walking into December

Walking behind this couple today, I reflected that we might look like this in 5 years time if fate is kind to us.  I wouldn't mind, I'm almost ready to give up the fight and resort to an elasticated waistband and grey ankle socks with everything.  After all, who's watching?

After driving our daughter to the airport for her Christmas "treat" - a trip to England to see her old pals - Husband and I set off on our favourite walk.  The route never gets monotonous. Last month, the fields were still brown and frazzled, last week they were busy with tractors ploughing and bee hives being unloaded and this week, everyone is out picking olives.  It's been so windy this weekend that most of the olives are on the ground so the familiar sound of long sticks beating the top branches was absent today. 

The 2.5 hour round trip takes us down backroads and pathways through to Etrim, a carpet-making village, which is busy with tourists during the summer but quiet and peaceful at this time of year. 
It's our only local walk to include a tea-house and as we stopped for a breather we were joined by Mehmet Top who insisted on buying our teas.  Mehmet makes baskets, traditionally used for olive picking but he says he now makes them just to keep himself busy.  

Etrim is also one of the few places with a village fountain, so we don't have to carry water with us for Jake.  He tried to share it with the locals but eventually they chased him off and he had to wait his turn.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Itchy Trowel Syndrome

I wasn't a very good archaeologist. I preferred the theory as most of the practice involved getting wet, muddy and cold with little chance of warming up in the old caravans or disused schools and farm houses that we went back to after a day pickaxing and wheelbarrowing.   I didn't really start to enjoy the digging until I worked on summer digs in  Greece and Italy. When there is the choice of a post-hole in pissing rain and a Corinthian column in the sunshine, you can understand why I decided to stay in the Mediterranean for 20 years.  In the last two weeks though, I have started to develop a strange affliction I call "itchy trowel syndrome". We have been exploring Theangela and Bargylia, both un-excavated sites and there are so many tempting corners of dressed stone sticking out at odd angles,  I'm beginning to wonder where my trusty trowel is hiding. ( I remember seeing it in the workshop about 20 years ago!) I wouldn't dream of giving into the temptation as unofficial "excavation" in Turkey is a serious offence but I'm thinking of finding out if Turkey has a similar archaeological volunteer program to Europe and seeing if I can spend a couple of weeks on a dig.

I'd love to know what's going on under here

or here. 

I hope Theangela is on someone's excavation list because we saw plenty of evidence of illicit digging, there were several pits like this one.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Brian Sewell - South from Ephesus revisited.

One of the joys of my recent "retirement" is sorting through my very dusty bookshelves and coming up with a gem I had forgotten I owned and having the time to sit down there and then and start reading.  I can remember buying Brian Sewell's "South from Ephesus" quite soon after it was published in 1988 and loving the honest impressions of South West Turkey.  At that time I hadn't seen him on the TV or read his magazine columns, but was seduced by the painting of the Gümüşkesen in Milas on the back cover.  This volume is a selective record of 10 years of Sewell's visits to Turkey from 1975 to 1985, covering the coast from Ephesus to Side.  It's not a guide as such, more a running dialogue of history, archaeology, anthropology, art, geography and sex that you might enjoy if you were lucky enough to have an extremely well informed travelling companion.  He bounces from the Carians to The Renaissance as he wanders or stumbles around befriending local dogs, cats and villagers. We are now accustomed to his dismissive, grumpy delivery, but I was quite shocked by it in the 1980s. He obviously loves the country but won't be sidetracked from describing it's  drawbacks, even when accompanied by a car and driver donated by the Turkish Tourist board. Especially when, as he can't stand the guide who seems to have no interest in the archaeology, is incapable of pre-booking a damp-free hotel, shouts at waiters and is more interested in his carpet commission.  Sewell's description of an over-weight belly dancer's contortions while submitting  her audience to extortion on a damp New Year's Eve in Bodrum is an image that is still making me cringe.   I love his description of getting lost trying to find Gerga as we did the same although, unlike Sewell, we did eventually find the site and didn't fall into the river. This book has been out of print for a while so I was extremely pleased to get an email from Amazon announcing it's  availability.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Gone Fishing

Sundays in the country usually start with a bang.  Several bangs.

Allow me to elucidate. I am referring to the sound of gun shots echoing over our house as hunter-gatherers from the town cast off their soft shoes and don stout boots and camouflage jackets and stalk anything that flies, crawls or runs through the trees. 

This morning there was silence.

I briefly wondered what had diverted the predators from their rifles then forgot about it and enjoyed the stillness. 

Having rained most of the night, it was a beautiful day today; about 22 degrees C with not a breath of wind and clear enough to see the mountains the other side of Milas. We decided to go for a walk by the sea and chose a forest path that winds along the coast to the north of Güvercinlik.    

As we reached the sea, it became obvious that everyone intent on catching food for the the table had put down their guns and picked up fishing rods.   Either in small boats or sitting on the shore, there were hoards of amateur fishermen.  I learnt a new word  "Rastgele" or "Rasgele". I'd seen it as a boat or restaurant name and now know that it is a friendly greeting wishing fishermen a good catch. 

With the light at just the right angle I managed to catch how clear the water is in front of this fisherlady. 

At the end of the path we met the professionals. Friendly as all sea-going people are, they chatted, posed for photos and insisted on giving us 2 kilos of mackerel and bream. I felt a bit guilty walking back past all the amateurs as we'd bagged a large catch without a hook or rod between us.

Thursday, 15 November 2012


pronk |prô ng k; prä ng k|verb [ intrans. ](of a springbok or other antelope) leap in the air with an arched back and stiff legstypically as a form of display or when threatened.ORIGIN late 19th cent.from Afrikaansliterally show off,’ from Dutch pronken ‘to strut.’

I was listening to the BBC Today program discussing children being taught to spell in English primary schools. As well as real words, the kids were also expected to be able to spell made-up words which had the presenters rushing over themselves to make up silly words, one of which was "pronk". Being Radio 4, it didn't take long for the tweets and texts to flood in explaining that "to pronk" was to jump up vertically, all four feet leaving the ground at the same time, a la lambs, kittens and antelopes. As I listened, I looked outside to see Jake do an amazing "pronk" almost up to the shoulders of my six foot plus husband. The image and word are now firmly imbedded in my memory for future Scrabble and crossword use. 
I'm afraid Jake is not in the mood to pronk today. To fulfill a promise I made to Karen at TAG, we took him to to be neutered on Tuesday.  It would be unforgivable to let a rescue dog be the reason for any more unwanted dogs on the street. The staff at Pethane were great, but we weren't quite quick enough with the plastic collar so the turquoise antiseptic transferred to his face.  As it's indelible I better start coming up with witty responses to explain why our dog has a blue face.  All suggestions gratefully received. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Olive leaf extract

I discovered a new health hazard yesterday while walking the dog - olive tree-bashing poles. Sundays are a popular day for heading out to ancestral olive groves and whole families pile into cars and trucks, sticking their 4 meter long poles out of the windows. The drivers then bomb along the village tracks forgetting they have a lethal weapon projecting sideways. After narrowly avoiding being swatted, we took to walking in the fields.  
I've already processed one jar of windfall olives and we're eating them now, another bucketful of green olives is brewing in the kitchen, the rest will hopefully stay on the trees another month until they turn black. Olives trees only fruit every second season and we don't have many producing trees this year so I've turned my attention to the leaves. In the early 20th century, a bitter compound called oleuropein was discovered in olive leaves and in the past 20 years this substance has undergone considerable research. Initial results show positive results in boosting the immune system against both viral and bacterial attack, promoting increased energy levels, strengthening the cardiovascular system and helping ease aching muscles. As the winter cold and flu season is approaching I've decided to try a bit of self medication and produce my own olive leaf extract. The easiest method is to collect a handful of leaves from trees that haven't been sprayed, chop and infuse in almost boiled water for 5 minutes, strain and drink. The leaves can also be dried and made into tea. I admit it's not a very pleasant taste, but it improved with a teaspoon of honey. The second way is to steep the leaves in alcohol or glycerine. I popped a few handuls of leaves into a blender then pushed them into a clean glass bottle and filled it up with vodka. I'm turning it every day and keeping it in a dark place and after 6 weeks I should have my tincture. Half a teaspoon morning and night seems to be the recommended dose, although tests at over 100 times this amount showed no harmful effects - (maybe not from the olve leaf - but the hangover from the vodka wouldn't be too pleasant). If I can avoid being knocked out by a passing olive pole, I'm hoping to have a healthy winter. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

And the winner is...

A couple of weeks ago, an obscure grammatical question was posed by Alan on his blog Archers of Okcular.  It was the sort of question that only pedants or those with too much time on their hands would be able to answer and (I'm not proud of myself) I was able to supply the solution immediately. Alan very generously offered his book or a T-shirt as a prize.  I went for the book. "Okçular Village - A Guide " turned up in my mail box yesterday and I've already read all 112 pages. Hats off to you Alan, this is a great read.  The Kocadere Valley, where Okçular is sited, was also threatened by a cement company's mine almost exactly 10 years after our village was similarly attacked and Alan, putting himself in considerable personal discomfort if not outright danger,  played the major roll in fighting off the developers and ensuring that his valley gained special protected status.  I assume the idea to write this book was generated by the huge relief one feels when one's home is saved from the teeth of commercial monsters. Divided into 4 sections, the handy pocket sized volume gives a general history of the area, the people, walks and a detailed description of the flora and fauna. I was delighted to read the life stories of oldest inhabitants, some of whom were born before the Republic of Turkey existed.  The history of the man in the field in 20th century Turkey is sadly under-recorded and this is a welcome historical resource. 

Even though I live 3 hours drive away, the lists of birds, plants and reptiles will come in very handy as I'm travelling around.  I also now have a very good incentive to get in the car and drive down Dalyan way and try out some of the walks.
The attachment Alan feels to his adoptive home and neighbours shines through in this book and Alan donates all the income from sales to projects that improve the lives of the villagers.
This Okcular Book Bazaar page gives much more information on the scope of the enterprise and has a mail order link.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Digging Deep.

The bulldozers have now left our bit of forest and we've had a few days of peace, but we are very aware that our quiet existence could end any time despite the promises of the forestry department.  Hopefully, any company might think twice before they try to redevelop this bit of nature: our village has a badass reputation to live up to. In late 1995, sitting on the terrace as the sun went down, we noticed that all the trees around our garden had red crosses on them. Hubby went off to the village to see what was going on and came back with gut-wrenching news.  A cement company had leased the forest behind the village and was going to cut down all the trees and strip-mine the whole area for dolomite. The access road to the mine was going to go around our house.  There had been no warning of this, no planning meetings, no surveys and not one member of the village had been consulted. The owner of the cement company had a relative in parliament and the mine was a done deal.  The first company men started to arrive in their jeeps, swaggering around as if they owned the place and got their first surprise - a volley of rocks. Jumping back into their vehicles, they sped off.  The owners turned up to negotiate. They would pave a village road - the villagers were not interested. A new school was offered - who would want to bring up their children in a mine?  The Turkish Green Party leader, Bilge Contepe,  and the most effective local environmental activist, Saynur Gelendost got involved and found us a wonderful  young lawyer Nurcan Akça who suggested we commission an environmental survey to see if we had any endangered flora or fauna. On a local level, we were busy painting banners and involving radio, TV and newspapers and collecting stashes of large rocks at each end of the village to dissuade any one heading for the forest. (I offer a belated apology on behalf of the village to the Bodrum motor cross club who, choosing the wrong day to ride through, must have wondered what they'd done to deserve a pelting of rocks by a group of very angry headscarved ladies) Semkay

A group of women wound themselves in the cloth used to wrap corpses and tied themselves to trees. The protest continued all winter until the inevitable confrontation happened in April 1996. The company enlisted the jandarme to protect them as they tried to bring their equipment into the village. The main road was blocked with petrol-soaked tree trunks and the whole village turned out to face the military police. We put the children in the mosque for safety and the women stood at the front facing the armed jandarmes. Shots were fired and arrests made, and finally the soldiers forced their way through. Six villagers spent 56 days in gaol but the rock throwing  and disruption continued. 

Eventually the environmental report found rare plants in the forest above the village which gave the lawyer a reason to open a court case to stop the mine.  Finally realising just how much they had underestimated the resolve of the villagers and tiring of the sabotage and constant difficulties in getting to the mine, the company found another village who fell for their bribes and left us in peace, although it was 4 more years before the mining licence was revoked in court.
Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures but they are firmly stuck in my album so I had to photograph them rather than scan.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Slightly old news, but Mehmet Kocadon was reinstated as Bodrum's mayor on Wednesday 24th October and was back at his desk  on Tuesday after the long Bayram Holiday.   It took him 35 minutes to get the 100 metres to his office as he had so many well-wishers to greet.  This is great news for all his supporters and hopefully he can now be allowed to continue with his plans for Bodrum.  He was also greeted by 5 goats,  all dolled up ready to be killed in honour of his return, but he is reported to have said that there had been enough blood shed and asked for them to be spared. Good man!

(From Mehmet Kocadon's Facebook page) 

Previous posts on this story:

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Bulldozer at Breakfast

The rumble of a bulldozer is quite unmistakable and it's never a welcome sound and especially not so at 7:30 am. This one appeared to be heading towards our garden wall. I watched it with mounting dread as I drank my morning tea on the terrace. Earlier in the year a whole swath of forest had been cleared next to us and a new road put in.  As I've said before in this blog, we built our house 20 years ago and still have no near neighbours, so consider ourselves very lucky to have escaped Bodrum's building boom but realise that this blissful state can't last for ever.  That said, I was already constructing a very high imaginary garden wall to keep out what ever this dozer driver's employers had in store for us.  Despite the mechanical beast's noise and the dog's hysterical barking, my husband had slept through the row and as 3 men appeared at our wall with GPS machines and maps, I decided it was time to get him involved.  I watched from a distance as hands were shaken. A cigarette break ensued. The machine stopped and the driver jumped down. The dog was introduced to the bulldozer which stopped the barking.  Peace reigned. A lot of pointing went on and maps were waved about, much pacing up and down and gesticulating followed. The digger then started up and backed off the way it had come. Hubby and dog came back both looking very pleased with themselves.
It turns out that the new road put in 9 months ago had, unintentionally, been driven through private rather than forestry land so had to be moved. The three chaps with maps had decided to direct it towards us but listened to hubby when he suggested that they could send it up to the existing forest road and keep it well away from our garden wall, and surprisingly agreed to move it again. And that was that - no hassle - they redrew the map and the bulldozer started again on a different tangent.  If that wasn't good enough news, we found out that the area is to be replanted with "fire-resistant trees" what ever they are, so our nightmares of industrial estates and factories can be put to bed for a few more years.

Saturday, 27 October 2012


As promised, a short guide dedicated to Labranda. 

We are heading for the top of the mountain in the middle of the photograph. The first time I drove to Labranda, I thought the car axle would fall off as we had to bump over a pebbly river bed and scrabble up scree, but much progress has been made in the past 3 decades and now there is a "proper" highway almost all the way to the site.

Almost...the last kilometre is a bit rough and I wouldn't want to visit in the rain. As I drive up, and look down at the fantastic view,  I have to remind myself that in the 4th century BC, once a year, pilgrims walked or rode the 14 kms from Milas along a 8m wide sacred way, to spend 5 days sacrificing, feasting, playing sports and celebrating in honour of Zeus. It's apt then that we are visiting on the first day of Kurban Bayram - Sacrifice Festival - Eid Al-Adha.

The name Labranda or Labraunda is thought to come from  the word "Labrys" a double headed axe which was the cult symbol of Zeus Labraudos and a sanctuary to him was established around 650BC on this  mountain top.  It was originally probably just a cleared plateau with spring water that drew devotees from Mylasa. The sanctuary developed immensely in the 4th century BC due to the influence of Hecatomnus and his family. 

A brief history lesson: Hecatomnus, a native Carian ruling Milas as a Persian satrap, had 3 sons; Mausolus, Idrieus and Piksodarus and 2 daughters; Artemissa and Ada. Mausolus married Artemissa, and Idrieus married Ada. Mausolus succeeded his father in 377BC and at a sacrificial feast at the sanctuary at Labranda, narrowly avoided being assassinated.  To celebrate his survival, he embarked on a building program that was continued after his death in 352BC  by his brother Idrieus until his own death in 344BC.  The Roman period is represented by two bath houses and Christianity appears in the shape of two churches and a baptistry.

The Temple to Zeus probably planned by Mausolus but constructed by his brother Idrieus. 

Above is one of the two "Andrones" or dining rooms built to hold feasts; the walls still stand to 8m high. There was one Androne for favoured guests where about 40 men would eat enjoying the view from the large windows  and one for less important visitors. The majority of visitors would camp at the site.

The word "Labranda" is synonymous with water in Milas. For years it was the only drinking water available and there are 32 spring houses between the site and Milas.  The spring under the giant split rock at the top of the site was probably the reason the sanctuary was originally developed here. 

There are over 100 tombs visible today outside the site. This is the most impressive, just above the sacred terrace, with 5 sarcophagi inside and a vaulted ceiling.

There are also rock cut tombs above the site and many individual sarcophagi covered by a massive stone gabled lids on the way up to and after the sanctuary. 

In antiquity there would have been many priests , workmen and farmers living on and around Labranda. Now there's just the guardian.  Gulsum will take your 5TL in exchange for a ticket and sell you a jar of honey for 15TL. She also gave us a large stick to keep off her dogs that took offense to Jake's visit.