Where to Visit in Mugla

Mugla Province is a province of Turkey, at the country’s south-western corner, on the Aegean Sea. Its seat is Mugla, about 20 km (12 mi) inland, while some of Turkey’s largest holiday resorts, such as Bodrum, Ölüdeniz, Marmaris and Fethiye, are on the coast in Mugla. The original name of Mugla is open to debate. Various sources refer to the city as Mogola, Mobella or Mobolia.

At 1,100 km (680 mi), Muğla’s coastline is the longest among the Provinces of Turkey and longer than many countries’ coastlines, (even without taking any small islands into account). Important is the Datça Peninsula. As well as the sea, Muğla has two large lakes, Lake Bafa in the district of Milas and Lake Köyceğiz. The landscape consists of pot-shaped small plains surrounded by mountains, formed by depressions in the Neogene. These include the plain of the city of Muğla itself,  Yeşilyurt, Ula, Gülağzı, Yerkesik, Akkaya, Çamköy [tr] and Yenice). Until the recent building of highways, transport from these plains to either the coast or inland was quite arduous, and thus each locality remained an isolated culture of its own. Contact with the outside world was through one of the three difficult passes: northwest to Milas, north to the Menderes  plain through Gökbel, or northeast to Tavas.

The economy of Mugla relies mainly on tourism (on the coast), and agriculture, forestry and marble quarries inland. Agriculture in Mugla is rich and varied; the province is one of Turkey’s largest producers of honey, pine-forest honey in particular and citrus fruits are grown in Ortaca, Fethiye, Dalaman and Dalyan.

The province is the second center of marble industry in Turkey after Afyonkarahisar in terms of quantity, variety and quality. Other mineral exploitation includes coal-mining in Yatağan and chrome in Fethiye. Other industry in the province includes the SEKA paper mill in Dalaman, However Muğla is by no means an industrialised province.

Despite court decisions upheld by the ECHR, as of 2020, Yatağan, Yeniköy and Kemerköy coal-fired power stations continue to pollute. The following are aspects about transportation in Muğla province: There are two airports in Dalaman and Milas-Bodrum, serving domestic and international flights and catering to the tourism industry. There are yacht marinas in Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye and Güllük. There are many privately run bus connections to İzmir, Antalya, Ankara, Istanbul and other major cities in Turkey from Muğla and directly from the coastal resorts.

In ancient times in Anatolia, the region between the Menderes (Meander) and Dalaman (Indus) rivers in the south was called Caria. The inhabitants were Carians and Leleges. In his Iliad, Homer describes the Carians as natives of Anatolia, defending their country against Greeks in joint campaigns in collaboration with the Trojans.

A major city of ancient Caria, Muğla is known to have been occupied by raiding parties of Egyptians, Assyrians and Scythians, until eventually the area was settled by Ancient Greek colonists. The Greeks inhabited this coast for a long time building prominent cities, such as Knidos (at the end of the Datça Peninsula) and Bodrum (Halicarnassos), as well as many smaller towns along the coast, on the Bodrum Peninsula and inland, including in the district of Fethiye the cities of Telmessos, Xanthos, Patara and Tlos. Eventually the coast was conquered by Persians who were in turn removed by Alexander the Great, bringing an end to the satrapy of Caria.

In 1261, Menteshe Bey, founder of the Beylik (principality) that carried his name, with its capital in Milas and nearby Beçin, established his rule over the region of Muğla as well. The beys of Menteshe held the city until 1390 and this, the first Turkish state in the region, achieved a high level of cultural development, its buildings remaining to this day. The province also became a significant naval power, trading with the Aegean Islands, Crete and as far as Venice and Egypt. Turkish  settlement during the Menteshe period usually took place through migrations along the Kütahya-Tavas axis.

In 1390, Muğla was taken over by the Ottoman Empire. However, just twelve years later, Tamerlane and his forces defeated the Ottomans in the Battle of Ankara, and returned control of the region to its former rulers, the Menteshe Beys, as he did for other Anatolian beyliks. Muğla was brought back under Ottoman control by Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror, in 1451. One of the most important events in the area during the Ottoman period was the well-recorded campaign of Suleiman the Magnificent against Rhodes, which was launched from Marmaris.

ith this long history Muğla is rich in ancient ruins, with over 100 excavated sites including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Letoon, near Fethiye. In 2018, archaeologists unearthed a 2,300-year-old rock sepulchre of an ancient Greek boxer called Diagoras of Rhodes on a hill in the Turgut village, Muğla province, Marmaris. This unusual pyramid tomb was considered to belong to a holy person by the local people. The shrine, used as a pilgrimage by locals until the 1970s, also has the potential to be the only pyramid grave in Turkey. Excavation team also discovered an inscription with these words: “I will be vigilant at the very top so as to ensure that no coward can come and destroy this grave”.

In July 2021, archaeologists led by Abuzer Kızıl have announced the discovery of two 2,500-year-old marble statues and an inscription during excavations at the Temple of Zeus Lepsynos in Euromus. According to Abuzer Kızıl, one of the statues was naked while other was wearing armor made of leather and a short skirt. Both of the statues were depicted with a lion in their hands.

Although it is close to major resorts, Muğla has only recently begun to attract visitors. Sights of interest in the city include: Great Mosque of Muğla (Ulu Cami) – large mosque built in 1344 by the Beys of Menteşe. Konakaltı Han and Yağcılar Han – restored 18th century caravanserais, the first used as an art gallery and facing Muğla Museum, and the second used for more commercial purposes. Kurşunlu Cami – large mosque built in 1495. Muğla City Museum has a good collection of archaeological and ethnographical artefacts, and 9 million year-old animal and plant fossils, recently discovered in nearby Kaklıcatepe. the Ottoman Empire-era bazaar (Arasta) – marked by a clock tower built by a Greek craftsman named Filivari Usta in 1895. Vakıflar Hamam – a still operating Turkish bath which dates back to 1258. The old quarter of Muğla – on the slopes and around Saburhane Square (Meydanı), consisting of about four hundred registered old houses dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, many of which are restored. These houses are mainly in the Turkish / Ottoman style, characterized by hayat (“courtyard”) sections accessed through double-shuttered doors called  kuzulu kapı (“lamb doors”) and dotted with chimneys typical of Muğla. But there are also a number of “Greek” houses. The differences between the two types of houses may have as much to do with the extent to which wood or stone were used in their architecture, and whether they were arranged in introverted or extraverted styles, as with who inhabited them previously. .Local students tend to hang out in open air cafés along the İzmir highway, or in the caravanserai, or in Sanat Evi (“Art House”) – an Ottoman-style residence that has been turned into a café / art gallery exhibiting principally wood carvings.

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