You may wish to see an introduction to this section first.
Melasso, the antient Mylasa, is situated at the foot of a high mountain about the middle of the south side of the plain of Caria. (..) The old city seems to have extended chiefly to the east of the present town; what has been taken for the city walls is evidently nothing but the enclosure of some public buildings, which were mostly on a rising ground towards the west end of the antient city, where the present town, or rather large village is situated.
Richard Pococke - A Description of the East and Some Other Countries - 1745
Milas, ancient Mylasa, was one of the most important towns of the region known as Caria. For some time it was ruled by the Persian governors of Halicarnassus (Bodrum); later on it fell into the sphere of influence of Rhodes. In 129 BC it became part of the Roman province of Asia.
Roman (left) and Byzantine (right) walls
At the foot of the hill to the south east (..) there is part of a thick wall built in the antient manner with stones, which appears like a city wall; but not seeing any signs of a
wall extending from it, I took it rather to be the enclosure of a building. Pococke
Milas is one of the few ancient towns of the region which was not abandoned during the Middle Ages: a few memories of its ancient past can be seen here and there in the modern town. Only a few stretches of the walls have not been pulled down or incorporated into houses.
I could not trace the city walls of Mylasa, but on the west side there is a,
magnificent gate entire, of the Corinthian order. Pococke
Luckily a Roman gate, or rather a celebratory triumphal arch has survived to our time: it was decorated with a small labrys, a double-headed axe: it was a symbol of Zeus Labraundos who used it to invoke storms (see another labrys at Manisa). It was also a weapon of the Amazons and a symbol of Jupiter Dolichenus.
There seem to have been two antient temples to Jupiter in this city, one
properly belonging to the people of Mylasa, (..) the other of Carian Jupiter in common to the Carians, Lydians, and
Mysians. (..) About half a mile to the west of the town there is a very extraordinary building; it cannot very properly be called a temple, for it consists of twelve pillars on a basement, with a front every way of four pillars, supporting an entablature, on which there is raised a very grand covering of large stones laid across in four tiers one over another, every tier
setting in so as to make a sort of a cupola within, which on the outside appears like four steps, in manner of a pyramid: The whole soffit is finely carved with flowers in lozenges. Pococke
In the IInd century AD a very wealthy citizen of Milas built an interesting funerary monument on a hill overlooking the town. It is thought to be a replica on a smaller scale of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, a lost Wonder of the Ancient World. "Gumuskesen" is a Turkish word meaning silver purse or box, maybe because the white marble of the monument had a shining appearance when seen from a distance.
The corner pillars are square, and the others are oval, (..) two thirds of the shafts are fluted. There is an entrance through the basement on the
west side and within there are four square pillars to support the
floor above. (..) I conjecture that this was a very magnificent altar of the Taurobole kind. (..) All which is submitted to the judgment
of others, being founded only on conjecture. (..) On the north wall of the enclosure there is a beautiful fluted Corinthian pillar, with an inscription on it
to the honour of Manander. Pococke
Storks have a predilection for ancient monuments; they did not miss a beautiful Corinthian column which is the only remaining one of a temple built on a high platform, similar to what occurs at Silifke.
(left) Ancient stones on the wall of a mosque; (centre) ancient column in the porch of another mosque; (right) garden of the local museum
Milas knew a second period of prosperity towards the end of the XIIIth century when it was ruled by the Mentese emirs; the mosques built in that period were decorated with slabs taken from ancient buildings and also some columns were used to support porches and halls. A small museum houses the findings of recent excavation campaigns.
Arches of the Roman aqueduct
To the south of the gate there are remains of an aqueduct, which has no marks of antiquity; but the antient aqueduct seems to have been carried the same way, and it may be probably on the city walls; for to the north ot this gate, there is a small low hill, near which there passes an
antient aqueduct which conveyed the water across the plain, and ended at a small hill towards the other side of it. Most part of this aqueduct seems
to have been destroyed, and rebuilt, but not in the best manner; I saw
in it several pieces of entablature of the Doric order, taken from the ruins of some building. Pococke
In town one can see arches of a Roman aqueduct which have been used as walls of houses or as stables; other arches give a Roman countryside touch to the landscape east of Milas.
Archaeological Museum of Istanbul: details of the decoration of a Temple to Hecate at Lagina, an ancient town near Milas: (left) battle with the Amazons; (right) a Carian soldier and a personification of Rome shaking hands. The frieze is dated late IInd/early Ist century BC
Opposite Mylasa on the other side of the plain, there is a
ruined Mahometan town called Paitshin, it is very strong by nature on
three sides, being situated on a hanging ground over the plain; there
is a castle in it, which was repaired and is
naturally very strong. Pococke
The Mentese emirs strengthened a fortress built by the Byzantines a few miles south of Milas on the road leading to the sea, most likely to protect the town from Arab raids. The emirs placed their residence inside the fortress which became the capital of their state.
Becin Kalesi: (left to right): the tower protecting the entrance; ancient lion heads on the walls of the tower; steps of a temple; a stone which had an inscription
I saw here some steps up the rock like the seats
of a theatre, but in a strait line, which together with a marble pillar,
much resembling porphyry in the colour, but not so hard, are the only remains of antiquity which I saw there. Pococke
At the beginning of the XVth century the emirs moved their residence to a new location near ancient Miletus. In 1426 this small state was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire.
(left) Ahmed Ghazi medrese; (centre) Ahmed Ghazi standard, you may wish to see that of the Karasid rulers of Troas; (right) detail of the baths
While inside the fortress very little is left, some buildings near the fortress give an idea of the architecture of that period.
The image used as background for this page shows the capital of a pillar at the Gumuskesen Mausoleum.