A successful trip can be measured in many ways but an early start to an unspoilt temple enclosure with no entry fee and a very friendly guardian ticks most of the boxes.Yesterday we left home at 7:15am in the camper van and by 8:30 we were parked at the entrance to Lagina, breakfasting on simits and tea.
The route is an easy one as the site is off the main road between Milas and Muğla. I've passed the brown sign to Lagina hundreds of times which is lucky as the signpost is no more, so you have to follow the sign to Turgut beside the power station in Yatağan.
Lagina is a temple sanctuary dedicated to Hecate, a goddess reigning over land, sea and air and usually depicted with 3 heads. She is a very busy lady as she also presides over fire, light, the moon, witchcraft, magic, herbs and poisonous plants, childbirth, soldiers at war and sailors on rough seas. A shrine to Hecate was often found at entrance doors to protect a building from restless spirits.
The dog is the animal most associated with Hecate. I'm sure Jake wouldn't have roamed so freely over fallen columns if he'd know that his ancestors had been sacrificed here.
Lagina was connected to the city of Stratonikea by a sacred way and Strabo writes that in the 1st century BC during the festivities celebrating Hecate, a key was carried from the temple to the city. The sacred road still exists in places but has been mostly destroyed by the large lignite mine supplying fuel to the Yatağan power station. This May, a symbolic reconstruction of the key carrying ceremony took place with young girls dressed in white Grecian garb carrying a key as far as the main road where presumably they hopped onto a minibus.
We were the only visitors and spent an uninterrupted couple of hours wandering around the minimally reconstructed site. The monumental friezes were long ago taken to Istanbul but the grandeur of the site is still evident in the complex decoration of the altar ceiling and the distance between the monumental gate and the temple gives an idea how large the walled complex was.
Back at the car park, the guardian of the site, Abdullah Demirel had come on duty and invited us to join him for a glass of tea and a chat about the site. We found out that excavation was currently on hold as the director of the dig was fighting a court case (a bit of non-archaeological digging on google turned up plenty of Turkish archaeologists and museum workers subject to legal investigation so I'm glad I don't ply this trade in Turkey). He also told us that the site is very popular with pagans and showed us a couple of the flags they had left behind. He recommended we come back at full moon and wait to catch a glimpse of Hecate herself. I think we would more likely be arrested by the Jandarmes.