Once we arrived at Lake Bafa in southwestern Turkey, we realized that the lake faces ecological catastrophe due to untreated industrial wastewater coming from factories in Muğla’s Bafa. However, We did not come for beach holidays, but to explore the village and nearby ruins of Herakleia. The lake used to be a gulf of the Aegean Sea until the sea passage was gradually closed by the alluvial mass brought by the Büyük Menderes River. At the innermost northeast tip of the lake on the slopes around the village of Kapıkırı are scattered the ruins of the ancient Carian port city Herakleia. In the upper village, the enormous Temple of Athena, just west of the central agora, occupies a promontory overlooking the lake. Only three of its walls remain, but the perfectly cut blocks (no mortar) are impressive. Other signposted paths lead to the council chamber in a private garden, a uniquely Roman bathhouse, and the unrestored theatre. There is also a ruined Byzantine castle, which overlooks the rock tombs of the necropolis.

Parking location – Kapikiri: 37.501311N 27.522820E