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  • Writer's pictureJason Borges

Itinerary for (Short) Caria Trip

I completed a quick, two-day trip through Caria, which is the region along the Aegean coast between the Meander River and Lycia. Here is a summary of the highlights. 

Caria route

Setting out from Izmir (ancient Smyrna), I stopped at Magnesia (here) to reexamine the Artemis temple, especially its library in the NW corner. For the first time, I explored the bath complex on the east side of the street, over the railroad tracks. If you have time, drive to the well-preserved theater. I have visited Priene, Miletus, and Didymus, so drove past them.


The next stop was Latmos (ad Herakleia) on the eastern shore of Bafa Lake. After lunch overlooking the lake, I visited the agora and Athena temple (in Kapıkırı village, here), then the apsidal temple (here) and the nearby castle. A two-hour hike to Yediler Monastery was the highlight of my trip. The trail was nicely groomed and well-marked. Many flowers were had bloomed in late February and the trail affords great views of the Beşparmak mountain range. The trail starts at the top of Gölkaya village (here) and concludes at the monastery.


Yediler Monastery, near Latmos

I didn’t have time to stop in Euromos (here) because I wanted to make it to Milyas (modern Milas) by 5 pm. There I visited the monumental tomb of Hekatomnos and the accompanying museum (here). The Carian ruler was the father of Mauslus, who built the famous Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. The site is newly developed with nice historical displays, but the central chamber and sarcophagus are not open to the public. I stopped by the Gümüskesen Aniti (here) on the west side of town, but it was closed and boarded up. Long story, but a botched construction project below the Roman-era chamber tomb creates a real eyesore. I suspect the area will be off-limits for a while, though you can peek over the fencing.


As the sun was setting, I drove to Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassus) and stayed at the Zümrüt Boutique Hotel (here), which I would highly recommend—central, quiet, clean, affordable, and a great breakfast!


In the morning, I visited the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum situated in the Crusader-era castle. The museum is one of Turkey’s finest, featuring exhibits of local archaeology sites, the castle itself, era, and, most uniquely, the finds from underwater excavations of sunken trade boats. A minimum of two hours is required here. Unfortunately, the site of the ancient mausoleum was closed on Mondays, though not much remains. The Crusaders took all the stones to build their castle.


Between Milas and Mugla, I stopped quickly at Stratonikeia to visit its east gates and street.


Stratonikeia, east gates

Passing by Caunos and Telmessos (modern Fetiye), I visited the Lycian city of Tlos (here). The acropolis has picturesque Roman-era rock-cut tombs. Other civic structures extend to the southeast, including a large stadium (closed off to visitors), theater (closed during reconstruction), and baths (worth exploring).


Tlos, stadium and theater, from acropolis

My final stop on the long day of driving was Oenoanda, a Hellenistic site noted for having the longest ancient inscription, a text of its hometown philosopher Diogenes. The site is located on the forested hill on the west side of the village of Incealiler (here). Finding the remains is difficult, so I would advise finding/hiring a villager to show you. If you can’t do that, walk to this point and you should see a path heading uphill through the trees. The site is impressively large, especially if you follow the aqueduct wall from the civic center (with agora and stadium) southward.

Oenoanda agora


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