The new road that climbs the mountain Of Sakartepe at Akyaka follows the ancient route for 10kms and we can be fairly sure that this would have been the road down which Alexander and his troops came. The first records Of the pillaging Of the ancient tombs come from this time.
Akyaka itself has a few remains from Roman and earlier times, though it Is not thought that here was a town. The ‘eucalyptus road’ was the Roman road, but closer to Akyaka, there is a track going across the Plain that is even older.
The eucalyptus trees were planted along the Roman road in 1939 as part Of the Government’s Project to eradicate malaria, which achieved total success by 1945. Unfortunately, as in its native land, Australia, mosquitoes have adapted themselves to the eucalyptus tree and there it Is not the effective deterrent that it is here in Turkey. The eucalyptus trees also seep the liquid from the marshy soil making it more fertile.
The Gulf Of Ceramus (G6kova) had four cities on, or very close to its shores – Ceramus, Myrna, Cedreae and Halicarnassus. The area was evidently heavily populated. In addition to the four cities, there are numerous vestiges of pottery works, forts and castles. For years, it puzzled the local amateur historians as to why the bay was so populated Settlement at Halicarnassus (Bodrum) on the main sea trade route was understandable, but why builds at Idyma, Ceramus (Oren) and Cedreae (Cleopatra Island)so far inside the bay? The land around these cities is extremely fertile. Fruit, wine and olives could be cultivated (many amphora dumPs have been found) almost anywhere along the Mediterranean coast, so why send boats down the bay, where the wind rarely blew satisfadorHy on the outward journey to enable the use of sails? It was a few Years ago that the answer was anally revealed. The area still has the vestiges of large Liquid Amber Orientalls groves (notably on the road to Ma,marls, near CetibeH) which would have dominated the local flora. Liquid Amber OrienfaHs, a
form of frankincense was used medicinally(Indeed, it was still being used in British medicine last century). This valuable Indigenous produd is believed to be the reason why the bay was so heavily populated.
The castle on the hill opposite the riverside restaurants was first built by the Genoans as a trading fort and then rebuilt by SQleyman the Magnificent in the 16th Century as a marine fort.
AS a defeated nation in 1918, Turkey was under the occupation of the Allies and this area was under the control of the Italian forces. In Gokova village You will see that the council buHdinff has a definite Italian influence in its design. At that time wolves and bears lived in the surrounding hills and forests. Terrified of wolves, the Italian soldiers set fire to the forests, immediately alienating thfl local Population.
A census carried out by the Italians shows 12 (extended) families living in the Akyaka / Gökova / Akçapınar area at that time.
In 1924, following the War of Independence, Turkey and Greece repatriated their citizens from each others soils. Locally, the ships moored at Iskele Bay (just on the west of AkYaka) and the bewildered population gathered on the quay, unable to understand why they suddenly had to uproot and go to a new land. Those left behind were equally confused and tended their friends` crops and homes for years. An elderly gentleman has told Of how the area went info mourning for years.
AS you drive from the main road towards thfl village of AkYaka You will see recently excavated Tombs. These tombs belonged to the ancient site of Myrna and the main central tomb is an imitation of Ionian style architedure. The burial chamber is entered through the entrance room and was made for two people. The two unadorned tombs either side of the main tomb are thought to be made for less worthy household members. These tombs were thought to be LYcian tombs due to the area they were located in but are actually Carian Tombs.
The Kadın Azmağı (Woman’s River) flows through reeds and tree beds towards the Gulf of Gokova and into the bay of Gokova. A natural aquarium, a trip along the river is definitely worthwhile. A leisurely meal at one of the many riverside restaurants in a lovely setting and offer excellent fish and seafood, as well as a range of Turkish Meze. There is also a small cafe which sell olive items from its olive farm in Datca.
In the village of Akyaka you will notice the authentic architecture of the area – Ula Mugla style. The houses are noted for their lovely woodwork on the cupboards doors and crafted wooden ceilings. An important architect, Nail Cakirhan from Ula, has built himself a house in the village and won the Aga Khan Architecture award.
There is a public beach that runs from the pier to the entrance of the national park. It is gently shelving and makes it ideal for young children but can get very busy at weekends and during July and August. The whole setting is lovely with forestry commission land surrounding Akyaka and a lovely shingle beach at Çinar is well worth a visit – about a 10 minute drive from Akyaka.
Until 50 years ago, Akyaka could only be reached by using a goat track. Villages along the bay have only had roads in the last few decades.
Akyaka was a very small fishing village with further employment in the farming and forestry sectors. Until the 1940’s there was the problem of malaria so most of the local families are quite new to the area. This is one reason why some maps do not mark Akyaka, but show Gökova, which was the principal village of the area.
In 1985, there was one ‘pension’ in Akyaka with only a basic bathroom and no hot water! When British companies started bringing tourists to Akyaka in 1988, there was no street lighting, erratic water supplies and only occasional electricity. People used to have to travel to Muğla or Marmaris to use the telephone as the only one in the village at the post office was rarely in service!
Eating opportunities include the riverside restaurants, the cafe on Cinar beach and restaurants in the village behind the ‘Blue Flag’ beach. There are several ATM’s and a PTT (post office) in the village. The weekly market is on a Wednesday on the road towards the forest, opposite the PTT. There are a few permanent stalls that sell greengrocery and fish throughout the week. Akyaka has two butchers and several supermarkets. To buy fish either meet the fishermen on the harbour in the morning or there is a fishmongers on the main road near the junction. There is another local market at Gokova on a Saturday, if you need to top up your local supplies.
Akyaka main ‘Blue Flag’beach has a shallow approach into the sea, it is however very busy in high season. Sunbeds and umbrellas are available to rent. Further around, the other side of the mouth of the Azmak river is the beach predominantly for the kitesurfing trend that has taken off in the last few years. There are several companies offering lessons and equipment hire. To the side of the beach you can hire a small boat or partake in a daily boat trip. (A typical itinerary takes in Gokova Gulf, Sedir (Cleopatra) Island (where Cleopatra is said to have bathed on sand especially imported from Egypt by Mark Antony), and the ancient city of Cedreae. It costs an extra 10TL to gain entry to the island and its Roman ruins.) This is also the place to get the boat for the short river trip up the Azmak River, through the reed beds to observe the wildlife, including duck, turtles, and woodpeckers.
Cinar A small sheltered beach 10 mins drive outside of Akyaka. There is a cafe on the beach and sunbeds & umbrellas to hire. It gets busier at weekends and during Turkish holidays. There are a few other less commercialised beaches along this part of coast too.
Akbuk about 30 mins drive along the coastal road. There is a small entrance fee, and sunbeds and umbrellas to rent.
Sedir Island (Cleopatra Island) is a small bay in the Gulf of Gokova. Legend has it that Mark Anthony brought the sand from Africa Accessible from turning off of the D400 between Akyaka and Marmaris, and by small boat which takes you to the protected beach, where spreading your towel is forbidden.
Ancient sites from Akyaka
The rock tombs around Akyaka and Gokova are part of ancient Idyma. Cadreae is on Sedir Island. Caunos Stratonikeia, Ephesus and Aphrodisias are all within a day’s drive of Akyaka. Stratonikeia, about an hour drive from Akyaka towards Bodrum, a large site still being excavated and well worth a visit. Aphrodisias two hour drive from Akyaka. Aphrodisias has one of the best preserved stadiums in Anotolia.