Kapikiri Village

Between Izmir and Bodrum, inland on the shores of magnificent Lake Bafa sits this unspoiled gem of rural Turkey, where villagers herd their cows along the only street, and where village houses grow so organically out of the ancient ruins and giant slabs of rock dotting the landscape that it is close to impossible to tell one from the other.

Unlike other villages close to ancient sites in the region that have been cleared to provide unhindered access to tourists, the picturesque village of Kapıkırı on Bafa Lake has been left largely to continue the alluring entanglement with its predecessor, ancient Heraclea. Village houses are interspersed with the ruins, the bases of columns used as garden tables or integrated as fence posts in livestock pens. Children play soccer in the agora and laundry has been hung across the bouleuterion (ancient council chamber). The village is officially protected as a cultural and historical heritage site which helps keep construction of new buildings or changes to traditional ones in check.

Historically Heraclea was an ancient port, trading as far afield as Egypt until the Latmus Gulf was cut off from the ocean by the silting of the Meander River. To this day, the lake retains a degree of salinity, making it home to both fresh- and saltwater species.

Heracleia welcomed its first tourist back in 1764 when English antiquarian Richard Chandler stayed here on his two-year journey through Asia Minor. Nowadays, the local economy is based largely on subsistence farming, with milk and olive oil the most important agricultural products.

The nearest international airports are Izmir (2-hour drive north) or Bodrum/Milas (1-hour drive southeast).

The area has been welcoming visitors and extending its trademark hospitality for centuries. Come see for yourself!


Kapikiri by Colleen McGuire