The Latmos Mountain range, called Beşparmak Dağları (Five Finger Mountains) due to their rugged silhouette, rise up steeply to the north of Bafa Lake, in antiquity forming the northwestern tip of the kingdom of Caria. Their wildly fissured masses of gneiss, granite and slate dominate the landscape from afar, creating a bizarre rocky labyrinth to pick through on our way to the top – a landscape that has enabled this area to remain effectively untouched to this day. This is also one of the archeologically richest areas in western Turkey, with hundreds of Neolithic rock paintings having been found in caves and overhangs scattered throughout the landscape. It is no wonder that the mountains have been a sacred site for all manner of cults and religions since time immemorial.
The isolation of the Latmos Mountains has attracted Christian hermits and monks alike. Toward the end of the Byzantine Empire, no less than thirteen churches and monasteries had been built – at times quite hidden – within the labyrinthine tangle of giant boulders and caves. The most famous was the monastery of St. Paul the Younger (10th century). Ancient city walls, columns and remains of watchtowers scatter the landscape and even romantically inhabit islands on Bafa Lake. It is these mountains that are the setting for the Greek myth of moon goddess Selene, who fell in love with the beautiful sleeping shepherd Endymion, having asked Zeus to grant him eternal youth and beauty. A shrine to Endymion remains to this day.