Heraclea ad Latmum (Heracleia by Latmus)




On the Agora  

Today Herakleia lies in a former bay of the Mediterranean Sea, called Latmikos kolpos (Latmic Gulf) in ancient times, separated by sedimentation processes and transformed into fresh water. The village is situated at the foot of the Latmos Mountains, which are difficult to access. Among the remains of the ancient city stands the village Kapıkırı. According to legend, the burial cave of Endymion was near Heraklia. In ancient Heracleia the moon goddess Selene was particularly venerated.


Heraclia's predecessor settlement Latmos was built around 1000 B.C. by Greeks expelled from the inhospitable but safe rocky landscape of the Latmos Mountains.
The originally Carian city came under Lydian and later Persian rule in the 6th century, as did the cities of Ionia. 499-494 B.C. Latmos, like the rest of Caria, participated in the Ionian uprising against Persia. After 494 Latmos received a fortification. He became a member of the Attic-Delish sea union with a minimum contribution of 1 talent per year, which reflected his economic power.
Latmos came under Persian rule again and became part of the Satrapie Caria, ruled by a local dynasty (House of the Hekatomnids), of which Mausolos was the most famous representative. He pursued a massive Hellenization policy in Caria between 377 and 353 BC.


The Temple of Athena  

Around 300 BC the Hellenistic new foundation Herakleia replaced the old (10 minutes walk away) Latmos. The exact date and the authorship of this foundation are disputed. The Duodez-Diadoche Pleistarchos, in any case, apparently made Heracleia the capital of his empire, which included parts of Caria, and renamed the city Pleistarcheia. However, after the end of his reign, which did not last for too long, they returned to the original name of Heracleia.
Whether the renewed change of name, which condemned the alleged "founder" Pleistarchos to oblivion, is due to the fact that the old Latmos was completely destroyed by him and its inhabitants were resettled against their will, remains to be seen.


Remains of the city fortifications  

Just as controversial as the question of foundation is the question of who was responsible for the development of the massive fortifications, which were at the cutting edge of military technology, and the extensive road network (but only accessible to pack animals and pedestrians), which both opened up the city's territory and secured the connection to the regional traffic routes.


One of the city gates  

Rome gave freedom to Heracleia, who had wisely changed sides before the defeat of the Seleucid Antiochos III against Rome, in the early 2nd century BC. The golden century of the city began. In 133 BC Heracleia and Caria became part of the Roman province of Asia.


The substructure of the Agora  



However, Herakleia, which was situated away from the city, did not win the favour of imperial or senatorial sponsors. Only a Roman miniature spa changed the old Hellenistic townscape. In the 6th century, Herakleia was still the second largest city in the province of Caria.



Building remains below the Agora  



In the 7th century, the Latmos Mountains were inhabited by monks from Sinai and became a holy mountain comparable to Athos. At the end of the 14th century, the Ottomans defeated the competing Turkish regional dynasts in southwestern Asia Minor.
At this time at the latest, Lake Latmos was completely separated from the sea and Heraklia's economic development was deprived of its basis.





Remains of the port facility




The 6.5 km long, 2-3 m wide walls, some 6 m high and reinforced with 65 towers, are an excellent example of Hellenistic fortifications. Also known are the Agora (forecourt of today's village school) and an Athena temple west of it.
Near the eastern city walls there is a theatre partly overgrown with olive trees. Near the lake there is a rock sanctuary for Endymion with a five-column vestibule.
In the lake, near the shore, remains of the port facility are visible. In the village you can also find a small Odeion.

Photos: @chim, Monika P.    
Translation aid: www.DeepL.com/Translator    
Source: Wikipedia and others