Bafa Lake Nature Park and Heracleia Ancient City

Bafa Lake Nature Park and Heracleia Ancient City

Bafa Lake is a natural wonder located in Turkey that is renowned for its beautiful scenery, rich history, and tranquil atmosphere. Its name is derived from the oldest language in the region, which means "land of water." The area's history can be traced back to 8000 years ago, with ancient ruins found in the Besparmak Mountains (Latmos Ancient City).

The lake was once part of the Aegean Sea but was filled with alluvium carried by the Great River Meander, which has now located it 16 kilometers away from the sea. The Söke Plain, which was covered by the sea 2000 years ago, is a fertile region that provides a significant portion of Turkey's cotton production, olives, figs, citrus fruits, wheat, and barley. Bafa Lake is the largest lake in the Aegean region, covering 60 square kilometers with a shoreline of 50 kilometers in length and a depth of 20 meters. Although it is relatively shallow, the lake is suitable for swimming in most areas. There are many places to explore near Bafa Lake Nature Park, including historical sites and scenic locations.

Bafa Lake Nature Park and Heracleia Ancient City

The Besparmak Mountains are renowned for their dense rocky structure, which is the result of natural factors such as wind. However, some rocks in the region have been shaped by Neolithic-era humans. Many cave-shaped rock walls in the area have prehistoric frescoes, while prehistoric engravings can also be found.

Kapikiri, a village situated along the foot of Mount Besparmak, offers stunning views of Lake Bafa and the mountains. Located 9 kilometers away from the coastline, the village is an excellent place to stop by during your visit to the region. You can catch glimpses of Lake Bafa from Kapikiri, and there are plenty of hotels and restaurants in the area to choose from.

Bafa Lake Nature Park and its surrounding areas offer tourists a tranquil route to explore. The lake is renowned for its natural scenery, rich history, and diverse bird species. During autumn and spring months, birds have a greater need for shelter and breeding, and Bafa Lake provides them with the perfect habitat. In 1994, the Bafa Lake region was declared a nature protection area, and camping around the lake is a popular activity for birdwatching, hiking, and photography enthusiasts.

Several islands are scattered along Bafa Lake, many of which feature popular sites such as churches and monasteries. The Seven Monastery, for example, showcases magnificent frescoes depicting scenes from Jesus' life, as well as stunning scenery. Visitors can also book botanical tours of the local flora, or archeology tours of ancient ruins to explore these cultural treasures firsthand. For those seeking adventure, trekking tours are also available in the area. Visitors should be mindful of the summer heat, wearing a hat and sunscreen, especially during midday hours when temperatures can be quite warm. With humidity levels often reaching 70%, it's important to be prepared for high levels of heat and humidity before setting out on any outdoor activities!


Located on the border between Ionia and Caria, this city is typically considered a Carian city due to its historical background. It is named after the famous mythology hero, Hercules. The city was originally named Latmos in the 8th century BC, and it was captured by Mausolus, the Persian Satrap. Following Alexander's campaign in Asia, it fell under the rule of the Alexander Empire and then the Seleucids.

Bafa Lake Nature Park and Heracleia Ancient City

Herakleia Ancient City lost its importance after being cut off from the sea in the 1st century BC. As a result, it fell into decay and became largely under-populated. However, it later became known as a place where Christians sought refuge and lived, as it was dangerous to travel or even be seen by others when the faith was outlawed by the Romans until the 4th century.

The Latmos Ancient City stands on rough and rocky terrain and is encompassed by a 6.5 km long wall fortified with 65 towers. The Hellenistic Period was when these city walls were constructed using regular rectangular and square stonework. Herakleia was planned according to the Hippodamos city plan and is an excellent example of grid-shaped parcel and street planning intersecting each other at right angles.

The Temple of Athena, built during the Hellenistic Period, is one of the city's most well-preserved structures, with two columns and a style typical of the time. The Agora, which is located behind the temple, has two floors, but only one floor remains today. Other indications of life during this time period can also be seen—the buildings that once housed shops still stand, while the southern walls show the improvement in stoneworkmanship over previous years.