Hillside cult sanctuary

Lovely Labraunda or Labraynda, set on a series of wide terraces connected by broad stone stairways, was always reserved for particular occasions; a place where religious rituals in honour of Zeus, whose local signature was the labrys or double-headed axe, were regularly staged.

Not that there appears to have been much in the way of piety about the place which, at 600 metres above sea level, probably doubled as a summer retreat for the great and the good of nearby Mylasa (modern Milas), a settlement which was once connected to Labraunda by a sacred way. There was colourful horoscopic hokum in the form of a fish oracle; fish which, decorated with gold jewellery, were held to pronounce by the interest they showed in pieces of meat thrown them. Food was something of a theme here, given the remains of three androns (dining rooms) where sacred banquets were held. The site remains home to a friendly guardian who regularly offers tea and chat to visitors at his on-site cottage.

The long-distance Carian Trail passes through Labraunda; a gentle two-hour descent leads across lightly wooded hillsides to the village of Kargicak.

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