The road less traveled: discover ancient Miletus in Turkey
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The beauty of ancient sites is a strange thing. Obviously, it helps when a big part of the constructions has survived nature’s forces and the invasions of conquerors at times. A well-kept building has an immediate impact as to where a few pillars scattered around might ask for a more significant effort of our imagination. But the scenery and your state of mind are also a playing factor, not to forget the weather. In Turkey, for most of the year, the weather is something you won’t need to worry about. What could be a spoiler, are the crowds at certain times of the year, especially if you decide to visit famous sites like Ephesus. At Slow Travel Guide, we love the road less traveled. In that perspective, a place like Miletus (or Milete, or Miletos depending on the language) is a charming alternative for those who like their travels seasoned with some history and culture, without having to deal with herds of tourists trying to share ‘the experience.’ Of course, Miletus doesn’t have the ‘grandeur’ that Ephesus has, but it has a lot that Ephesus has no longer…
What to expect when visiting Miletus, Turkey?
This ancient Greek city is situated not too far from Lake Bafa, and very close to Didim and beautiful Didyma. Miletus dates back to 500 BC when it was the most significant Greek city in the east. There used to be two harbors, which made Miletus a gate to and from Anatolia. After the Greeks, it went under Persian rule, back to the Greeks to receive even Roman attention in later times. It was abandoned after the harbors had silted up, leaving an impressive site to visit when in Turkey. The first thing that strikes you is the theater. Walking around in the theater is a step by step discovery of beauty and history. Especially the broad stairs that lead to a next level or the arched ‘hallways’ behind the seats are well worth seeing. Make your way up to the top level and take the top exit, only to discover a picturesque landscape at the back and the side of the theater.
Take in the image of different times and Rulers with the remains of a Greek stoa (a long and covered hallway with pillars on one side and a wall on the other), the remains of the baths, also from the Greek period and a beautiful mosque from the Turkish Rulers all in one picture. The baths carry a pleasant surprise when you have a closer look, as the ‘cold bath’ still has two statues standing alongside it. It certainly adds to the experience, and one can almost picture how people must have been bathing in this beautiful environment.
A small detour to Euromos
If your cultural hunger hasn’t been satisfied just yet, then consider going a little further afield to visit Euromos. You will find it along the road to Milas when driving from Miletus or Bafa. Most of this site still has to be uncovered, but the Temple that awaits you amidst pine trees generously makes up for that. It makes a profound impression. But then again, that is most probably what a ‘Temple of Zeus’ is supposed to do. After all, we are not talking about your next door neighbor here. Zeus was the king of the gods and the god of the sky, lightning, thunder, law, order, and justice; or more simply put the god of just about everything. That surely deserves a temple worth this status. With less than half an hour drive from Miletus, treat yourself to this piece of history. Chances are you will be the only ones visiting, which makes it all the more surreal.
How do you like your culture trips served? Bite-size pieces? Or rather all included? Why not combine your visit to Miletus with a trip to Priene, Eski Doğanbey, or Güllübahçe? If you prefer to use a guide, we wholeheartedly recommend using a local guide. Find local guides for tours to Priene and Miletus here.
Miletus is very near Bafa Lake which offers a far more relaxed experience than many accommodations in Didim may. That is why we suggest places to stay at Bafa when visiting Miletus.
If you need a hotel, make sure they are in the Kapıkırı area. You will find hotels on the other side of the lake as well. Those are situated along the main road and may offer a splendid view, but you will be isolated from anything else Bafa Lake has to offer.
These are our top picks:
The nearest airport is Bodrum Milas which has easy connections with Istanbul airports if required. You’ll find cheap flight options here.