Photos by Jack A. Waldron
Torturous is the only description left to me following a climb into the mountains along the shortest path that takes you from ancient Alinda to the sacred city of Labraunda. It's not that climbing mountain roads is a despised endurance workout to be avoided at any cost, nor a negative psychological experience, because, when a thankful tour cyclist faces such challenges, we accept the health benefits both physical and mental that we receive in the exchange: however, occasionally a wrench can be thrown into the mix, which in this case was mainly at the hands of the French, that can force one ask ask themselves if they will be able to survive? And as for the answer, it is usually, 'Yes".
The first four kilometers along the Labraunda trail followed a deep mountain creek that wound up and around the slopes that grew higher and higher. All along the way I would be passed by these massive trucks with billowing beds of white dust. From the first one that passed, they would remain a constant annoyance, whether they were passing me, or as I was to confront, a head-on challenge of one truck after another along a five kilometer stretch along a mountain pass covered in six to twelve inches of dust that I could not peddle, and which left me in a suffocating gritty cloud each and every time! And each time a truck passed, I realized how alive I was. I eventually passed the quarries (here in Mugla, Turkey) that mine the Kaolin, and which supply the porcelain industry (particularly the French, as I later found out) with Kaolinite, that is the base material in all ceramics.
It is written that Arselis, a leader of Mylasa in Caria during the 7C BC, helped Gyges of Lydia gain the Lydian throne through contest, and as a reward was given the sacred golden Labrys, which was brought to Mylasa, and further, began the founding of the sanctuary of Labraunda, and the beginning of the cult of Labraundean Zeus, to whom a statue was erected within the sanctuary, and in whose hands the golden Labrys was held (pictured below, ornamented sacred golden Minoan Labrys from Crete, Heraclean Museum Crete).
The South Propylon (pictured above) was built by Idrieus around 340 BC, and was constructed of marble in the Ionic order. It served as the main entrance to the sacred site, and leads to the Propylon area with the North wall and its several niches (pictured above) situated directly opposite after having passed through the build.
Looking left after entering the site through the South Propylon, there is a Processional taircase (pictured below) along the North Wall that climbs to terraces of Andron B and C and the East Stoa. However, prior to entering the terrace, I turned right after entering the South Propylon in order to examine the so-called Doric Building, the East Church, the East Bath, the East Propylon, and the Hypostyle Building, all of which are a part of or connected to the South Terrace.
Pictured below, a view of the Doric Building before entering the South Propylon from the south-west corner. The rubble of blocks on the top of the hill beyond is from a collapsed North Wall and the East Stoa above it, which sits on a higher terrace just above the East Propylon. The Doric Building is also believed to have been designed/built by Idrieus, as a partial inscription on a block from the architrave with what is thought to be a fragment of his complete name, that would read (Idrieus son of Hekatomonos, from Mylasa dedicated). The Doric Building appears to have served as a nymphaeum, as a front wall was never erected behind the front columns, thus the building remained open to the outside.
The East Church (south side wall pictured below) sits a bit forward into the Propylon area next to the Doric Building (which is to the right in the photo below). Between the Beehive Tower (seen in the background of the picture below) and the south wall of the church is where the East Bath is located.
The East Propylon (pictured from outside the sanctuary below) is nearly identical to the South Propylon, and is believed to anchor a road that connects with Alinda and Alabanda. This road appears to be a continuance of the road that connects the South Propylon with Mylasa and the port city of Iasos.
Pictured below, the Hypostyle is located outside the East Propylon on the south-east corner of the terrace and is thought to be of Roman construction. The structure is currently being excavated, but there are several theories on its function. One theory is that it was a well-house, conveniently located outside the East Propylon where visiting travelers could wash and cleanse themselves prior to entering the Sanctuary of Zeus Stratius or Zeus Labraundus.
Turning back to East Propylon and entering the propylon area, one may proceed up the Grand Staircase in order to reach the next terrace. Pictured below, the East Propylon in the foreground, with the Processional Staircase just beyond, and further in the distance on yet a higher terrace is Andron A.
The North Wall of the Propylon Area just below the Processional Staircase has four openings that have yet to be excavated, but are believed to be storage rooms (pictured below).
Pictured above, looking across the terrace after climbing the Processional Staircase, situated to the far right in the picture is the Well-house or Terrace Wall Nymphaeum, while in the center-left rising above the terrace is Andron A, with Andron B and Andron C located below on the terrace itself in left of the photo. Pictured below, the East Stoa, which is situated on the opposite side of the terrace from Andron B (out of the picture to the right in the photo above.
Pictured above, a closer look at the Well-house or Terrace Wall Nymphaeum, with its basic Doric columns and Hellenistic stonework, the structure is believed to date from the 2C BC, while the Terrace Wall may date back to the 4C BC. Situated atop the Well-house is the so-called Well-house Stoa, of which some columns can be seen in the photo above. Pictured below, an interior view of Andron C, which most likely dates from the 1C AD.
Situated next to Andron C just a level above is Andron B (pictured below), which was according to an inscription at the site erected by Maussollos 372-377 BC. The revolutionary aspect with regard to the design of Andron B is the combining of two orders during a pre-Hellenistic period, those being of the Ionic order (the columns and capitals, and the Doric order (the architrave, triglyph frieze and geison).
Rising above Andron B and the so-called Terrace House, on the Temple Terrace is the well preserved Andron A (pictured below), which according to an inscription at the site is believed to have been built by Idrieus 351-344 BC. Looking closely at the front wall with the door opening in the photo below, the thickness has been measured to almost 2 meters, which may have been purposed to stabilize the structure.
Directly next to Andron A is the Oikoi Building, which can be seen in various pictures below, and which sits behind the impressive Temple of Zeus. With its unusual design of six columns on the front and back, and eight columns on the sides, and similarities with the Temple of Athena at Priene, the later temple design is believed to have been completed by Pytheos, who also designed the Mausoleum of Halicarnasos, one of the ancient wonders of the world.
Pictured above and below, various angles of the Temple of Zeus and the Temple Terrace.
In the photo of the Temple Terrace and Temple of Zeus above, notice the extension of a small platform out onto the terrace from and connected to the Temple of Zeus. This is believed to an alter from an earlier temple design, and which would probably have been considered sacred, thus preventing further extension of the temple, resulting in its current square shaped design.
Labraunda till this day in modern Turkey is known for its spring water, even having a brand of bottled water named for it, and which is sold in stores throughout the province and beyond. Further, it is most likely because of the numerous springs that continue to flow at the site that this area became sacred, and a place of returning thanks to the gods that provided the springs of life itself.
Picture above, looking out over the Labraunda site. Pictured below, now high up onto the hillside a square structure that was an impressive Tomb on the mount. This may have been a temple tomb, on top of which may have been built a structure resembling a ancient temple.
Pictured below, a look inside the Tomb on the mount, which based on the design is believed to date from the 4C BC.
Labraunda is an extremely important site to the history of ancient Caria, the transition of the site into a monotheistic cult, and more so perhaps, due to its origins of providing an essential element to the preservation of all life, meaning its fresh natural clean flowing springs, which we are after all perhaps driven to be in recognition of; the purpose of its being worshiped: nature.
*All photos and content property of Jack A. Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)