Photography Workshop in Western Aegean. Day 1

 Some members of our photography workshop, led by Arjen Zwart,
an Istanbul-based professional photographer

We flew from Istanbul to Bodrum on the 06:35 flight. A very early start, but essential if we were to visit all the places on our itinerary. Our minibus met us at Bodrum airport, and drove us to our first destination, Milas, for breakfast. This was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Caria, and is thought to date from the 7th century BC. Milas today doesn't reflect its glorious past, but the evidence is still there.

You can still see relics of the past, built into walls around the city.

This is the Baltalı Kapı, or Axe Gate, once the entrance to the city, and later used for an aqueduct. 

The name of the gate is derived from the carved axe, the symbol of Zeus,
 on the keystone of the arch. 

We then headed for Labranda, a holy sanctuary, dedicated to Zeus, "Father of Gods and men". On the way, we passed an ancient edifice which intrigued us, so we stopped to take a look. It was the Gümüşkesen Tomb, built between 160-180 AD.  

This is said to be modelled on the famous Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, in nearby Bodrum;  one of the original seven wonders of the world.

Who built the tomb and why, is not clear, but it has been suggested that it was constructed as a resting place for some town dignitary during Roman rule. 

The road to Labranda was steep and rocky, following the path of the ancient pilgrims, away from the hustle and bustle of busy Milas. The site is huge, and we were the only visitors, left to clamber about at will in the silence and solitude of this ancient, sacred site left abandoned more that 1,000 years ago. 

 By now, we were hungry for lunch, so decided to see what was available in the Çomakdağ Kızılağaҫ Village, another spot on our itinerary. Unfortunately, there were no restaurants, but we managed with supplies from a small store in the village. This village was founded some 500 years ago by the Oğuz Turks, who carry on their traditions to this day. We found the inhabitants to be friendly people, who are proud of their village, and only too keen to show us around, and didn't seem to mind our cameras at all! 

The women still wear their traditional dress. This lady invited us into her house to look at her handicrafts. To enter, we had to move the planks aside.

These men were playing a game called Okay...

...while this woman was selling her wares nearby.

Our final trip was to the local cemetery, where the  ancient stone headstones had the most magnificent view over the valley below.

We were also intrigued to see some decorated headstones.

We eventually reached our hotel, exhausted, but happy, looking forward to our next exciting adventure!

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