Pronounced ‘Moola’, this small city with a population of 40,000 and an altitude of 650m is the provincial capital. First settled around 1200BC, it was first captured by the Turkish emirs of Menteşe in 1261ad and seized by the Ottomans in 1390 and returned to the Menteşe control by the conqueror Tamerlane. Mehmet the Conqueror regained control for the Ottomans in 1451.
Muğla accommodates some hillside Ottoman neighborhoods that are among the finest in Turkey. A leisurely stroll through lanes of well-maintained, 18th Century, white houses with tiled roofs, beaked chimneys and ornate doors is well worth half a day.
There are several interesting mosques – Kurşunlu Cami, built around 1494 and restored in 1853, with a minaret and courtyard added in 1900, which oddly has windows identical to the windows of Thomas Jefferson’s home in Montecello in Virginia, USA. Nearby is Ulu Cami, dating to the time of the Menteşe emirs.
Walk north into the bazaar where narrow lanes are jammed with artisans’ shops and little restaurants. Thursday is market day and boasts the most interesting market in the area.
The Vakıflar Hamamı (Turkish Bath), on the corner of Tabakhane and General Mustafa Muğlalı Caddesi, was built in 1258 and is still in use with a separate entrance for women. It is well worth a visit.
Mugla’s Museum is open from 09:00 -12:00 and 13:00 -17:00 Tuesday to Sunday (admission fee payable) and displays archaeological remains from the surrounding area. The museum is close to the town hall and faces the lovely building of Konakalti İskender Alper Kultur Merkezi, which houses small craft shops and is very interesting to look around.
Muğla is a working town has larger supermarkets, a small shopping outlet and a large traditional market on a Thursday. The market is an experience in itself with traders coming from outlying villages and small holdings few tourists can be seen and the produce is of the freshest to be found.