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Situated at the head of Latmian Gulf, Heracleia was called Latmus at the beginning taking its name from the impressive mountain reaching the height of 1300 meters above the sea level. Hearclia, which was located at the head of the gulf never, became an important city it was far from the popular trade road running form Ephesus to Miletus. Miletos captured most of the sea borne trade.

Although it was located in Ionia, Heralia was a Carian city in character and its history was formed by the events of Caria. King Mausolos used a stratagem to capture the city and he changed the name of the city during his efforts of Hellenisation of the Caria region. To differ it from many other Heracleias, it was called Heracleia under Latmus. In 287 BC Lysimachus, one of the generals of Alexander the Great captured the city.
He also built great defense walls for the city that still surrounds the town and most impressive remains in the city. These walls, which started at the lakeshore level climb up to 500 meters altitude, extended nearly four miles and fortified with 65 towers. Towards the end of the 1 century BC, the prosperity of Heracleia began to decline due to loss of the trade when river Meandros silted up the area and closed the Heracleia's link with the sea.

Second noteworthy monument in Heracleia is the Temple of Athena, situated on a promontory over the beach. This beautiful temple in tem plum in antis dates to Hellenistic period. Heracleia follows Hippodamic style town planning created by the Hippodamus of Miletus.

During the Byzantine era, Latmos region attracted great number of monks seeking for the monastic life. During the 7th century, monks and anchorites from Arabic lands settled in the caves of Latmus Mountain. Some of these monks became so famous and attracted great number of pilgrims and people to the area. Monastic life at Latmus region lasted for 400 years but ended with the arrival of Turks at the 14th century.

The monks returned to the region when Crusaders defeated the Turk at Doryleon 1069. According to a tradition, a monk discovered a cave sanctuary on Mt. Patmos. Discovering also a tomb in it, the monks accepted as the tomb of Endymion and converted the shrine to a Christian holy place.
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