If you are on a self drive trip in the west coast of Turkey and have Bodrum in your itinerary, it is good to consider visiting this beautiful little ancient sanctuary located only 90 minutes away from Bodrum. The location of the sanctuary is very convenient if you are driving to further south from Bodrum as your navigation will take you to Milas first and than to Mugla where you are able to drive south to reach Marmaris, Fethiye, Kas or Kalkan. You will just need another 90 minutes to reach to Marmaris and 2,5 hours to get to Fethiye. As it is en route, Lagina is worth stopping by and feeling special as it is not crowded by tour groups.
Who is Hekate?
She was worshipped as the primary mother goddess and transformed into the Goddess of Magic. She was the goddess of the moon and the night. She was the ruler to the ghosts as she was a female model of Hades; The God of the underworld. Hekate was also the patroness of the magicians, fortunetellers and witches. As the artefacts of Hekate in western Turkey are newer than her traces in the land of the Greeks, there is a big controversy among the historians about her origins. But she is commonly considered Anatolian as the dougher of Demeter which gives her the power as a mother goddess.
The sanctuary is realtively small considered to the ancient sites in western Turkey. However, this does not mean that it doesn't worth to stop by. The excavation site is the first place in Anatolia to be researched professionally by Richard Pococke in 1743. The area was constantly under research but the biggest excavation was led by Osman Hamdi in 1891. Osman Hamdi is the founder of the Museology in the Ottoman times. He conducted the excavations in the area with his brother Halit Ethem. They have extended the efforts made by the earlier archaeologists and worked on the propylon, temple and the stoas inside the Sanctuary of Hekate. For the next 15 years, he visited the excavation site and brought the artefacts to Istanbul Archaeology Museum. He is also the first person to force the Ottoman Sultans to regulate the transportation of Anatolian artefacts to abroad by legal precautions.
The sanctuary was an important place to the Karian people. We can see that it was connected with a 10 kilometer sacred road to Stratonikeia which was an important city of Karian states. The shrine was important during the late Roman ages and early Byzantium ages. By the 4th Century, a church was built in the area. Like many other Karian cities, an earthquake devasted the shrine in the end of the 4th Century and was abandoned. The area was an important shrine until the earthquake for about 5 centuries. When you visit Lagina today, you don't need to be an archaeologist to realize just how big the settlement is and how much work is left to unearth the hidden treasures of Hekate.
Today the excavations continue by Pamukkale University. Archaeologist Sogut says that the northers stoas of Lagina is excavated right now and they are planning to re erect the coloumns of the area which will be a good surprise to the visitors this summer. The artefact found in the area can be seen in Mugla Museum.