On the first week of this bicycle tour I went through Bodrum, anciently known as Halicarnassus, famous for the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The mausoleum was destroyed over 600 years ago by earthquakes so it wasn’t a big disappointment to find that there’s really not much left at the site — some stones and a small, somewhat neglected museum.
Two days after visiting Bodrum I arrived in Milas, where I spent a couple nights resting and trying to stay out of the rain. I was excited to visit Gümüşkesen, a Roman-era small copy of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. I had also heard good things about Milas’ archeology museum. It ought to be good, located in the center of an area densely dotted with ancient sites. Sadly, I was disappointed twice: both the museum and Gümüşkesen were closed because they’re moving the museum to a currently under-construction building at the Gümüşkesen site. I snuck my camera through the fence to get this photo:
On my cold, rainy “rest day” in Milas, I hitchhiked up to the ruined Roman city of Labranda. On the map it looks like it could make a nice bike ride, but I’d been warned of heavy, heavy truck traffic on this road for the feldspar mining. Warning: if you’re on a bike, don’t think you can use the parallel road farther east to avoid the traffic — many trucks go up the Labranda road and down the other road back to Milas. The only reasonable bicycle option would be to come from Karpuzlu and head down the road via Labranda. You’d still have heavy truck traffic, but it’d be mostly downhill, and the distances aren’t so long. However, the site really isn’t so interesting. There are many better ruins around.
I guess the highlight of my time in Milas was seeing some of the colorfully painted houses that Milas is known for.
After leaving Milas on my bicycle, the Roman ruins portion of my tour started in earnest — this week Euromos, Iasos, Didyma, and Miletus. Euromos is known for its Temple of Zeus:
perhaps not dissimilar to the Temple of Zeus at Aizanoi:
or the Temple of Zeus in Athens:
Euromos also has ruins of the theatre:
At both Iasos (a couple hours later) and Teos (next week, next blog), I learned that the theatre stones at those sites had been pilfered over the years for other construction, but check this out:
It looks like the theatre at Euromos is in great condition, just waiting for an excavation team to remove a couple meters of accretion from the last 2000 years.
After about an hour riding from Euromos I arrived in the nondescript yet familiar-looking village of Ovakışlacık. Oh wait, I pedaled through this village seven years earlier. That’s where the fish seller gave us fish!
Another hour of riding took me to Kıyıkışlacık, a village known in Turkey because so many films and television shows were and are filmed here. Knowing that, I expected more from the village. More widely, however, the village is known for Iasos, another ruined Roman city. I was definitely not disappointed here.
My favorite building was the bouleuterion, and the sun came out for the photos!
Not far down the road from Kıyıkışlacık is Didim, but it took a couple days to get there as I waited out some more rain. Didim as a beach resort looked pretty ugly to me, but it’s also known for the Didyma ruins, the Temple of Didymaion.
The classic Didyma photo is this, Medusa’s head:
Across the street is an old church (Greek-looking to me) converted into a mosque.
Didyma wasn’t actually a city in the Roman era, but a place of worship for the nearby city of Miletus. Miletus and Didyma were connected by this ~14-km “Sacred Road”:
I took the modern road and was at the Miletus Museum about an hour later. Yes, that’s right, at Miletus there’s a museum right on site which I like. The museums help put the sites in perspective and usually house some of the sculpture and other finds from the excavations. The museum at Miletus is small and well-done with information about nearby Didyma and Priene as well. It was interesting to see how the Büyük Menderes Delta silted up over the years. Miletus and Priene were both on the sea in the Roman period, and today’s large Bafa Gölü (a lake) was a bay connected to the sea 1500 years ago.
Miletus is most well-known for its theatre, but behind that is an extensive city to explore. Amazingly, except for one shepherd and his flock, I was the only one there.
By the time I had finished visiting the site, it was getting late in the day, and the guards had gone home so I put my tent up a respectable distance from the theatre and spent the night there. Another amazing week of bicycle touring in Turkey.