My favourite archaeological destination in SW Turkey has always been Stratonikeia. Between Milas and Yatağan, equally accessible from Bodrum, Altinkum and Marmaris, the site is an archaeologist's dream as Greek, Roman and Ottoman remains tumble around the ruined houses of the Turkish Republic. Visit in spring and you'll be serenaded by frogs in the ancient theatre. Unlike Ephesus, you can wander at leisure through the bathhouse, gymnasium and bouleuterian unhindered by crowds, as coach tours are still a rarity. The villagers of Eskihisar were forced to leave their homes as an ever expanding coal mine encroached on their land. Abandoned villages always have a forsaken air and Eskihisar had the added menace of massive slag heaps looming over the ancient city walls. Only one old lady refused to leave and as the years went on she got progressively more dotty and would yell at us as we apologetically picked our way around the ruins. I returned to Stratonikeia this April for the first time in 10 years and found a happier atmosphere in the village. Two families have moved back and a team from Pamukkale University are busy excavating and restoring mosaics. The mosque has been repaired despite having no worshippers and the tea house is open. The towering slag heaps have been seeded and are turning into rolling green hills. Excavations are turning up exciting finds by the day. But the most thrilling development is an initiative between Muğla and Italian Education ministries to educate children using Statonikeia and Herclenium as examples, with a tag line of "Who doesn't know the past can't have a future, so teach through history."
Signposted just off the main road from Milas to Yatağan. Just before you hit the chimneys of the power station.
Google map: bit.ly/Z9HUYg
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