Tabae: unusual stop & cave-hunting on the Denizli-Muğla road

Every road trip deserves a few stops, right? We’re all for the ‘always take the scenic road’ and ‘all about the journey’ approach. So, while on the road between Muğla and Denizli, we planned a road stop at Tabae, also known as the Fortress of Tavas.

Tabae was declared an archaeological site in 1985, but even today, most of the ancient cities’ structures and buildings are still hidden underground. Still, the natural fortress that dominates the landscape is home to some cave houses, and those who loved our post on the painted mosques near Pamukkale will love that there’s also one of those at Tabae.

Tabae In A Nutshell With The Cevher Paşa Mosque And The Kale

Tabae In A Nutshell With The Cevher Paşa Mosque And The Kale

The story of Tabae or the Fortress of Tavas

Tabae lies on the border between Caria and Phrygia and was inhabited since the Bronze age until the town was evacuated in the 1960s when the risk of a dangerous landslide became too high. Walking around the site today, it is almost impossible to imagine people lived here a little over half a century ago. In its heydays, the town was a leading weaving center, with weaving workshops dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods.

Click here to read about another important weaver’s town and beautiful authentic place to visit: Buldan.

Tabae Still Life With Scenic Snowy Mountain Tops In The Background

Tabae Still Life With Scenic Snowy Mountain Tops In The Background

Tabae consists of an inner fortress surrounded by defensive walls and an outer fortress. The outer fortress encircles the inner one and houses lots of rock chapels, rock-cut water tunnels, cisterns, wells, and rock tombs. There were about 50 houses in the inner fortress, while the outer fortress used to have 5 mosques, a Turkish bath, 3 schools, around 300 houses, several public fountains, an inn, and 6 zawiyas or religious schools.

Pazar Yeri Mosque And Cevher Paşa Mosque In Tabae

Pazar Yeri Mosque And Cevher Paşa Mosque In Tabae

Little of that is still visible today, but this doesn’t mean that Tabae isn’t worth a stop if you find yourself on the Muğla-Denizli road. Here’s what to expect when you visit.

Cevher Paşa Mosque Wall And Minaret

Cevher Paşa Mosque Wall And Minaret

 

Tabae’s crown jewel: the restored Cevher Paşa mosque

One of the highlights of a Tabae visit is undoubtedly the restored mosque almost at the top of the fortress. The Cevher Paşa mosque is a restored mosque with a rectangular prayer hall and a portico for latecomers in the north. The mosque has a wooden roof that rests on wooden pillars with beautifully carved capitals testifying to the craftsmanship of its builders.

Cevher Paşa Mosque Portico For Latecomers

Cevher Paşa Mosque Portico For Latecomers

Detail Of One Of The Painted Inscriptions Inside The Cevher Paşa Mosque

Detail Of One Of The Painted Inscriptions Inside The Cevher Paşa Mosque

Little is known about when the mosque was built, but researchers assume that it dates back to the 14th or 15th century, which is when Cevher Paşa lived. The date painted above the entrance (1235/1819-20) is believed to refer to an extensive repair. Inside, the mosque is a sea of color. The wooden pillars and walls have vibrant decorations, and the patchwork of kilims and carpets covering the wooden floor adds the finishing touch.

The Colorful Interior Of The Cevher Paşa Mosque

The Colorful Interior Of The Cevher Paşa Mosque

Tombstones At Tabae With Cevher Paşa Mosque In The Background

Tombstones At Tabae With Cevher Paşa Mosque In The Background

A word of warning: despite being restored, the mosque in Tabae is usually closed. We believe a lack of visitors to the site resulted in it being abandoned, slowly sliding back into disrepair. This means you’ll have to be really lucky to get inside, or you’ll have to settle for appreciating the exterior and the portico.

Cevher Paşa Mosque In Tabae

Cevher Paşa Mosque In Tabae

Cevher Paşa Mosque Seen From One Of The Caves

Cevher Paşa Mosque Seen From One Of The Caves

A walk with a view & some surprises

Walking around Tabae, you’ll get to enjoy the lovely views as well as the satisfaction of feeling like you’re exploring a relatively untouched site. Some excavation and restoration works were carried out, leading to the discovery of a 114-meter long canal (which was dry when we explored it) or a very well-preserved Roman Era cistern, which is not accessible. Click here to see a picture of it on page 8 of this publication. But Tabae has more to offer than the views and the Cevher Paşa mosque. The Ruins of the Pazar Yeri mosque, and especially the still standing minaret are guaranteed to charm you.

Minaret Of The Pazar Yeri Mosque

Minaret Of The Pazar Yeri Mosque

Detail Of The Pazar Yeri Minaret With The Steps Of The Stone Staircase Clearly Visible

Detail Of The Pazar Yeri Minaret With The Steps Of The Stone Staircase Clearly Visible

En-route, you’ll also see several caves and the remains of two Bath complexes, one near the Cevher Paşa mosque, and another, the Roman Baths, more towards the east of the site.

Inside One Of The Fortress' Caves

Inside One Of The Fortress’ Caves

Cevher Paşa Baths

Cevher Paşa Baths

In short, don’t expect a spectacularly restored ancient city or a collection of distinctly visible ruins when visiting Tabae. Instead, enjoy this place for what it is, a promising but yet to be excavated ancient site which is currently best appreciated as a road stop with a plus. If excavations continue here, they may hold a few pleasant surprises in the future. After all, Tabae was a rather important city that minted its own coins.

For now, it’s a great spot to stretch your legs although there are no facilities on site. For that, you will have to rely on the nearby town of Kale, a place well-known for its peppers. If you’re traveling in August, you may want to check out their Anual Biber Festivali (or pepper festival).

Pazar Yeri Mosque Minaret

Pazar Yeri Mosque Minaret

Did you know that we also feature road stops or landmarks on our interactive tourist map of Turkey without turning them into a post? You’ll find them listed under ‘One for the Road’. Check out the tabs below for more practical information about traveling to Tabae.

✔️ Have you been to Tabae? Then please head over to our Turkey Trip Planner to leave a review. Alternatively, if you plan on visiting, you can add the ancient site to your bucket list.
Cevher Paşa Mosque In Black And White

Cevher Paşa Mosque In Black And White

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There is no entrance fee for Tabae, but there is a gate. So, it is fair to assume the site is not accessible between sunset and sunrise. There are no facilities on site, and there’s little to no protection from sun or wind. In short, dress appropriately and wear sturdy shoes.

This place didn’t get any reviews on TripAdvisor, so we’re hoping that readers who have visited already will be kind enough to leave a review on our Turkey Trip Planner. If you have a question, send us a message through our contact page, or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

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! 😉

Do look for the tunnels. It’s fun and intriguing to go inside.

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! 😉

While there are a few smaller hotels in and near Kale, we assume that this won’t be your final destination for the day. When searching for hotels, 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.

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! 😉

Tabae is easy to reach as it lies right next to the Denizli-Muğla road. When coming from Denizli, it’s just past Kale, opposite the graveyard. The site is signposted, and you need to cross the old Roman Era bridge to access it.

If you are relying on public transport, it’s possible to walk up to the site from Kale Otogar. There’s a bus leaving from Denizli every hour.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country 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! 😉

There is no entrance fee for Tabae, but there is a gate. So, it is fair to assume the site is not accessible between sunset and sunrise. There are no facilities on site, and there’s little to no protection from sun or wind. In short, dress appropriately and wear sturdy shoes.

This place didn’t get any reviews on TripAdvisor, so we’re hoping that readers who have visited already will be kind enough to leave a review on our Turkey Trip Planner. If you have a question, send us a message through our contact page, or leave a comment on our Facebook page.

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! 😉

Do look for the tunnels. It’s fun and intriguing to go inside.

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! 😉

While there are a few smaller hotels in and near Kale, we assume that this won’t be your final destination for the day. When searching for hotels, 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.

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! 😉

Tabae is easy to reach as it lies right next to the Denizli-Muğla road. When coming from Denizli, it’s just past Kale, opposite the graveyard. The site is signposted, and you need to cross the old Roman Era bridge to access it.

If you are relying on public transport, it’s possible to walk up to the site from Kale Otogar. There’s a bus leaving from Denizli every hour.

When searching for flights, we like to use Skyscanner. It’s easy to use, and reliable. Find the best flights to Turkey and domestic flights that will take you all around the country 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!

LISTS & REVIEWS

Bookmark your favorite places, find other destinations nearby, get directions from your location, and read or leave reviews.

Our Turkey Trip Planner wad designed to do just that. You'll find all our favorite spots in one place, including scenic road stops.

Map of Turkey

Do you like to see things on a map? On our interactive tourist map of Turkey, you'll spot nearby points of interest right away. We've done the heavy lifting for you. Just click on the icons to go to each post.

Enjoy our practical and inspirational map of Turkey!

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Tabae: unusual stop & cave-hunting on the Denizli-Muğla road