Non-touristy Muğla? Visit Hekate in Lagina!

When exploring non-touristy Muğla, most people eventually end up visiting beautiful Stratonikeia, but did you know that there’s another great place to visit just around the corner? Less than 15 km away you’ll find Lagina, which – back in the days – was connected to Stratonikeia by a sacred road. Why sacred, you may ask? Because Lagina ancient site was the cult center (or religious center) of its political counterpart, Stratonikeia. This is a sanctuary dedicated to Hekate, a mysterious cult devoted to the goddess of magic & witchcraft, the moon & the night, and ghosts. If that isn’t enough to consider a visit, the photos in this post may be a better way to convince you!

Lagina's Stoa With The Steps For The Spectators In The Background

Lagina’s Stoa With The Steps For The Spectators In The Background

The history of Lagina

Lagina dates back to the Bronze Age, but it wasn’t until the Kings of Caria rebuilt the sanctuary that it became a significant religious center. During our Stratonikeia visit, we’d noticed the elaborate inscriptions on the Bouleuterions’ wall. Little did we know that these inscriptions describe the religious festivals held at Lagina. These festivals in honor of Hekate took place every year, and since 81 BC – every four years – the key of the Hekate Temple was carried from Stratonikeia to Lagina during a procession along the sacred road. Worshippers entered the sanctuary through the Propylon from where they could access the Stoa and its steps where they could watch the ceremonies.

Lagina In Black And White For A Bit Of Extra Drama

Lagina In Black And White For A Bit Of Extra Drama

Propylon With Its Semi Circular Shape

Propylon With Its Semi-Circular Shape

Welcome To Lagina Ancient Site

Welcome To Lagina Ancient Site

From an archaeological perspective, Lagina ancient site is also important as this is the spot where the first Turkish archaeological crew began their research led by a pioneer in Turkish archaeology, Osman Hamdi Bey in 1891-1892. The excavations works resumed in 1993 and continued till 2011 after which a 6-year break followed. A new team is now carrying out further research since 2017.

Excavations At The Cella In The Temple Of Hekate

Excavations At The Cella In The Temple Of Hekate

Exquisite Collection Of Artifacts In Lagina

Exquisite Collection Of Artifacts In Lagina

Who was Hekate?

Hekate (or Hecate) was a Goddess according to Pagan beliefs and she was said to have the keys to the underworld, hence the key ceremonies mentioned earlier. The oldest records of Hekate in Greek literature date back an 8th century BC poem. She was a pre-Olympian goddess who stood by Zeus in the battle of gods and Titans, after which she gained certain privileges. She was seen as a powerful helper and guardian of mankind, but also as a patron of magic and witchcraft connected to the underworld. Statues often depict her as three persons holding a torch, a key, knife and sometimes a snake in her hands.

Unique Hekate Temple

Unique Hekate Temple

Overview Of The Hekate Temple At Lagina

Overview Of The Hekate Temple At Lagina

The Temple of Hekate stands in the center of the sanctuary and has 11 Corinth columns on one side, and 8 on the other. It is recognized as one of the most significant pseudo-dipteroi in Anatolia. The current temple dates back to the 2nd century BC, but researchers found evidence of an older cult structure from the 4th century BC. The sculptures found at Lagina ancient site are now part of the permanent exhibition of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

Part Of The Temple's Facade With The Temple Behind

Part Of The Temple’s Facade With The Temple Behind

Temple Of Hekate At Lagina Ancient Site

Temple Of Hekate At Lagina Ancient Site

What to expect from Lagina?

The most prominent structures at Lagina are the Propylon, the Stoa, and the Hekate Temple. The Hekate Altar and the remains of a Byzantine Basilica are the other main ruins. Lagina is still very much under people’s radar. So you have a great chance of having the site all to yourselves. This makes your visit even more pleasant. If you’re looking for the non-touristy Muğla, that still has a lot to offer, then this is it. You’ll get a great dose of culture and history, topped off with a stunning natural setting. (despite the fact that you’ve probably just driven past the impressive industrial looks of the thermal power plant in Yatağan) This is the kind of place that makes the individual traveler and value seekers’ heart jump.

Stoa At Lagina

Stoa At Lagina

Beautiful Still Life

Beautiful Still Life

Getting off the beaten track usually involves putting in a bit more effort. In this case, you won’t easily find an organized tour to join, nor will you see a lot of information boards in English on site. Still, with the information from this post, and a visit to your friend Google for more historical or mythological background information, you’ll be well-armed to make your visit to Lagina a success.

The Propylon Gate Is Monumental

The Propylon Gate Is Monumental

Fig Trees And A Temple For Hekate

Fig Trees And A Temple For Hekate

Sun Kissed Poppy Meets Antiquity

Sun-Kissed Poppy Meets Antiquity

For more practical information for your Lagina ancient site visit, check out the tabs below.

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Sources: academia.edu, Turkish Archaeological News & Hermes Institut

Do you want to know what others think of this place? Read the reviews on TripAdvisor! Please note we’ve visited each place personally and all photos are our own. So, basically, what you see is what you get. If you have any questions about a place, feel free to ask. You can send us a message through our contact page, or join our closed Facebook group where other Turkey travelers and aficionados are ready and eager to help.

Lagina is easy to reach by car as it lies just off the D330 connecting Yatağan to Milas. The route to the site is well waymarked. If you’re depending on public transport, take the dolmuş from Yatağan to Turgut and tell the driver to let you off at Lagina.

Entrance at Lagina is free of charge. There are toilets on site.

Turkey is a perfectly safe country to travel, except for these risks. Still, you should never travel without proper insurance. We love World Nomads’ travel insurance. We love their philosophy and their take on responsible travel, but also the fact that they cover popular activities in Turkey such as paragliding or balloon rides.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

Consider visiting Lagina on the same day as a visit to Stratonikeia. Both places are lovely and very close to each other.

If you’re more into a personalized experience while enjoying the services of a guide, Tours by Locals may be what you’re looking for! We just love them! You get the knowledge and assistance of a local, and the experience of independent traveling. Best of both worlds, really.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

We still love to use Booking.com when searching for the perfect hotel or vacation rental in Turkey. Unfortunately, the website isn’t accessible from within Turkey without the use of a VPN. If you don’t have a VPN, and you’re already in Turkey, Hotels.com is a good alternative.

There are not a lot of accommodation options near Lagina or Yatağan. If you ask us, it is best to visit this place as a day trip and stay the night in places like Bodrum or Akyaka.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

We often use Skyscanner because it’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Bodrum-Milas or anywhere else in Turkey here..

Do you prefer some good old road tripping? Once you get used to the unconventional driving style in Turkey, you’ll love to hit the road. After all, it’s all about the journey, and you may expect some very scenic rides! Renting a car in Turkey is easy. If you’re looking for an established car rental company that allows pick-up and drop-off at different airports, check out Europcar. They have offices all over Turkey.

Clicking these links will take you to pages of places and products we love and we’ve tested. If you happen to book or buy something, we may earn a small commission from it, at no extra cost to you. So here’s a thank you for adding some coins to the tip-box! 😉

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Check the weather

Never wonder about the weather in Turkey again. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions.

This page contains the current weather and weather statistics for all regions in Turkey.

Prepare your trip

How to order a tourist visa for Turkey?

What about public transport?
Can you skip the line at Istanbul Airports?

General Turkey travel information, essential to help prepare your trip, on one page!

Work with us

Get direct access to your target audience with a proven interest in Turkey. People call us their Turkey Bible!

Contact us for a feature on our map, a destination guide, a photo shoot, or any form of professional Turkey-related content.

Ask a traveler

Are you unsure about a destination, activity or hotel? Why don’t you ask other travelers about their experience?

We have a closed Facebook group where you can ask all Turkey-related questions. You’ll get solid advice and travel inspiration.

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Are you looking to discover the non-touristy #Muğla? #Lagina ancient site and its #Hekate Temple are under the radar places waiting to be seen! - #Turkey