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 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.