A presumptive drawing of Maussoleon

A presumptive drawing of Maussoleon

Moor at Palmarina Bodrum, hop in the car and lose yourself in the history of the ancient cities of Caria region, once ruled by the Hecatomnid dynasty and protected by Zeus. Below are seven of those cities; whether to explore the complete history of Bodrum is up to you.


Distance to Palmarina Bodrum 18 km (25 min)

Most people are familiar with Bodrum; they are familiar with its nights, as well as its days, castle, coast and its sea… Let’s take a look at what is deep in its heart this time, as beneath it lies a 2400-year-old city: Halicarnassus. The person who planned the city from scratch was Maussollos of Hecatomnid dynasty. He was a Mylasian visionary who flourished following the arrival of the Persians in the Western Anatolia in the 5th century BC. The temples, city walls, proverbial agora and the palace (where the Bodrum castle is now) -built during his time- in the city that became the gate between Anatolia and the Aegean Sea are quite well-known. Yet, the piece that put his name among “the gods” and made the city a legend is the Mausolleion that is regarded as one of the seven antique wonders. Once standing on the cart (quadria) drawn by four horses on top of the giant composition, the statues of Maussollos and his wife Artemisia are in the British Museum today. The rocks of it were used by the Knights Hospitaller in the making of Bodrum Castle. Even though what remains now is just a hole in the middle of the city, one can feel the influence of the great king of Caria in their bones, visiting the region.


Distance to Palmarina Bodrum 67 km (1 hour)

“[When the Persians entered Menderes Plains,] the treads of the army could be heard from Tralleis,” wrote Herodotus the historian. Mylasa is located at the point where such an army got together after having treaded from three separate wings. Today, on coming to Mylasa, you are greeted by a powerful city that survived the raids of the greatest army of the time and had the proud of being the capital of both Caria and Menteşe Principality. Temple of Zeus, the vaulted Baltalıkapı (northern gate of Mylasa) in the city walls, Gümüşkesen mausoleum, the Great Mosque built during the ruling of Menteşe Principality, Firuzbey Mosque, Ottoman bridges, Mylasian houses from the 19th century and proverbial carpets will be more than enough to earn your admiration.

Mylasa Labranda

Andron A and the temple o Zeus at Mylasa Labranda

Distance to Palmarina Bodrum 76 km (1 h 10 min)

Though the Hecatomnids left their homes to settle in Halicarnassus, they never gave up on Labraunda, their sacred site near Mylasa. Overlooking Mylasa from a hill 5 km away, this majestic site is composed of three terraces. On the second terrace is the chamber (Andron B) where Maussolos hosted the esteemed guests of his. On the third terrace is his brother Idrieus’ chamber (Andron A), right next to Zeus Temple made by Mausselleion’s architects Satyros and Pytheos. Zeus had been around the site before the Hecatomnids; there’s another temple of his, dating back to 600 BC in the same place. The unusual synthesis of Dor (Greek) and Ion (Western Anatolian) architecture In this site of a god, who was graced in the eastern world despite his western origins, gives us a clue of the dynasty’s wish for “bonding the coasts of the Aegean Sea”.


Distance to Palmarina Bodrum 84 km (1 h 15 min)

Although not much is known about it, as not many excavations have been made, Euromos, which was one of the well-known cities of Caria, is well worth exploring. Its theatre with an agora in front is beneath the ground level. The Zeus temple within, dating back to the archaic ages, has a Corinthian architecture which is rare in Anatolia. The cesspool of the temple, on the other hand, is a real treasure in the eyes of the experts, as in it were found 860 pieces of embossed terra-cota friezes belonging to the oldest wooden temple. “Diamonds in the garbage” would fall short to describe these friezes.

Romantic theater of Alinda

Romantic theater of Alinda


Distance to Palmarina Bodrum 106 km (1 h 50 min)

Located in Karpuzlu district of Aydın, Alinda is a magical site where the old and modern lives co-exist. It has been a center of attention and care as it was once an exile for Ada I, one of the queens of the Hecatomnid dynasty. Around 300 BC, the city was surrounded with walls to protect the queen and towers were built, on which catapults, a new defense weapon then, would be mounted. Alinda’s three-storey agora on the hillside is the only one of its kind in Anatolia. The theatre in Alinda, with no Roman touch, is a true Hellenic beauty, a tremendous romantic structure covered in olive trees today. Who knows, maybe Ada I persuaded Alexander The Great right here to give Halicarnassus back to her.


Distance to Palmarina Bodrum 121 km (2h 12 min)

Head towards Doğanyurt Village from Karpuzlu. Then, find the Çine creek, which was originally called Marsyas, named after the ill-fated satyr who died while teaching Athena how to play the flute. In this fertile land nourished by this creek since around 400 BC, you will reach Alabanda, the city that controlled the river trasportation and trade. Alabanda was brought to daylight from oblivion in 1904 by Halil Edhem Bey, the brother of Osman Hamdi Bey, both of whom are accomplished archeologists besides many other things. Halil Edhem initially found Apollon Isothimos temple. Isothimos means “the one that destroys insect pests with light.” There must be a reason why Strabon, the famous geographer, wrote about Alabanda in his book as “the donkey carrying a scorpion in its crate”. The public apparently appealed to Apollon to help them with the scorpion issue. The second temple is the proof that Zeus ruled in region when he set foot in Anatolia with the Dorians. There isn’t much left from its theatre as the Byzantine melted much of the marbles in the hole on the stage to use them when they faced economic difficulties. Yet, don’t forget to see the only known parliament building (bouleterion) in Caria region; its walls were put up with a special technique making them resistant to attacks from the catapults, which were newly invented around 300 BC.


Distance to Palmarina Bodrum 179 km (2 h 30 min)

Let’s make Tralleis, one of the oldest cities of Western Anatolia in the ancient ages, our last stop; you must be tired already. This was one of the most important seven metropolises of the Roman Age. It used to have one of the biggest baths of Anatolia; we can only see the 26-meter wall of the structure today. Yet, the city is actually famous for its two-storey, 600-meter tunnels, called Tralleis Arsenal. Numerous military equipments found in the tunnels show these tunnels were either a military warehouse or a safe transportation system. Besides, having had a sculpture school and a ceramic workshop, where the lurid plates used by the emperors were made, dating back to the 2nd century BC, Tralleis is claimed by many to possibly be even more important than Efes in western Anatolia.

PM Plus, Issue 7, June-July-August 2015

Translated by Bağış Bilir