As you may know Bozdağlar Mountains encompass a large geography that starts from the back of Kemalpaşa and stretch all the way to Turgutlu, Salihli, Alaşehir, Sarıgöl and Buldan by passing through the boroughs of Bayındır, Ödemiş and Kiraz. During the first age, the mountains were known as Tmolos. Its highest peak is named Bozdağ and its 215 meters. This is the highest peak in Izmir and the second highest in the Aegean Region. Today, the plateaus on and around Bozdağ are comfortable zones to escape the heat of the Mediterranean in the summer, especially for those living on the shores of Ödemiş and Salihli. Bozdağlar have always been important in history with their water resources and fresh air filled with oxygen Many adventures are hidden in the deep valleys and high plateaus of Bozdağlar. The concave where the water source of Subatan Plateau disappeared is considered one of the areas with the highest energy in the world. In short; the secret world of Bozdağlar describes a geography that must ve examined closely with its vivacious atmosphere, water sources and historical background.


Artemis journeys

Today, we are going to talk about a journey that centered around the Goddess Artemis. The Artemis Route is a route that stretches from Ephesus to Sardeis via Aydın Mountains, the King’s Road, Bozdağ and temples dedicated to Artemis. What attracts us are the valleys and plateaus among the secret passageways of Bozdağlar visited by the people of Athens and Spartans during their war with the Persians. The route we have mentioned above is not the most active route that we use to bypass Bozdağ today. What must have made this route popular was probably the two sieges in history to Sardeis by soldiers from Athens and Sparta. Even though many routes have been determined by travelers regarding this attack on the Persians, the route that is most important to us is the Hypaipa-Subatan Plateau-Sardeis route.

The relationship between the Artemis of Sardeis and the Artemis of Ephesus was the scene of many celebrations. The temple of Artemis in Sardeis was built by the people of Ephesus. We know this from epigraph number 1631 in Ephesus. During the reign of Lydia king Croesus, supporting the construction of a huge temple was an important political investment. The protection of a temple in Ephesus was a show of strength as well as competition with Miletus. In the Hellenistic age, Hypaipa was bordered with the Artemis faith in the north and with financial support from Ephesus in the southwest.(2) When the Persians invaded Sardeis in 546 B.C., the new order established in Anatolia also effected Hypaipa in rural Menderes and manifested as the Artemis Anaitis Temple. This wind from the east is so instrumental in the history of Hypaipa that they stand against Rome during the mutiny of Mithridates.

The historical Artemis Road, which connected Sardeis to Hypaipa, was the route used Greeks when they attacked the Persians. During the Ionian mutiny in 499 B.C., rebels bypass Bozdağlar with the help of local guides and take over the city with ease..(3) Persians, who are stunned by the attack retreat to the acropolis in Sardeis. While the city is pillaged by the Athenians, a fire erupts in the Temple of Cybele and the chaos ensues in the city. Fighting erupts between the Greeks and the Persians. After this incident, Persians pillage the temple in Miletus and Dydma and march to Athens. In 395 B.C., Spartans organize a second attack on Sardeis which finally liberated the city from the Persians. (4) Did the Spartans use the Artemis Road too? This is quite possible by looking at the route today which passes by Günlüce village built on the ruins of Hypaipa.

ephesus artemis

Bozdağ plateaus along the Artemis route

When you enter from the corner of Sart Police Office on the Old Ankara road, you can start your pastoral journey of Bozdağlar via an asphalt road that runs parallel t Sart Creek. First you pass by the statue of Nazmi Efe, who was an instrumental figure during the Turkish War of Independance and reach the town square. bu köyün en önemli geçim kaynağı olan fidancılığın somut getirisi, yaylada yükselen dağ evleri olmalıdır. Köyün içinden geçen asfaltı takip ederek dağın ardındaki Ödemiş düzlüğüne erişmek mümkündür. Ama esas çekici olan rota; meşelerle kaplı bir coğrafyada toprak bir yolu After leaving behind the last houses of the town, you will be greeted by vineyards that offer a visual festival with their colors. As the climbing continues, a road separates towards Başlıoğlu. The slopes that rise across the road harbor the last remains of observation towers used by the Persians.(5) The topography that elevates at this point continues its climb in the south. You will reach Yeniköy which looks like a plateau after you pass by Çaypınar village. Maquis as far as the eye can see and pine forest stretch all the way down to the deep valley; the valleys are so deep that it must have been nearly impossible getting to Sardeis without getting lost a couple of times.

Many plantations greet you at the entrance of Yeniköy filled with spruce, sycamore and pine trees … Plantations are the most important source of income in this village. You can reach Ödemiş Plain if you follow the asphalt road that runs along the village. But the most attractive route is to stop at Çamyayla which serves as a summer plateau and then go for another 10 kilometers to reach Keldağ, a mountain that overlooks Küçük Menderes Plain. It is easy to leave Yeniköy behind and follow the asphalt. Subatan Plateau, which resembles a small village with its mosque, agricultural lands and summer houses, is the first settlement after Yeniköy. The plateau looks amazing in the fall with all its colorful trees.

The place is much cooler than Salihli and it’s now practically winter. You can have some tea with the villagers at the country cafe. There are many houses on this plateau. We learn that Subatan Plateau is a famous place for its ‘special energy’. It seems that the people who live here were inspired by Indian or other Eastern doctrines. Subatan Plateau is so high up that you feel isolated here; it is very quiet and serene save for the sounds of nature, has an amazingly clean air and water and a mysterious water source that disappears inside a cave… It is said that the waterfall, which probably was created after a limestone base melted, goes as deep as 160 meters inside the cave which has small lakes and that no one knows where the waterfall ends. With this characteristic Subatan has become the place for meditation in recent years.

One of the important points on Bozdağlar is the 1372 meter high Keldağ, located to the southwest of Yeniköy. To reach the mountain from Salihli, you need to follow the asphalt road that leads to Subatan Plateau, then turn to the village road and pass by a couple of plateaus. After passing by houses near Horzum Plateau and heading towards the plateau from a dirt road in Yeniköy you will reach the southwest. This dirt road will take you to Çamyayla, another plateau on Bozdağlar after about 10 kilometers. Çamyayla, as per the accounts of village officer Ali Bey, is on old settlement of the people of a ghost town called Lübbey. Çamyayla, which once served as the plateau of Lübbey, turned into a permanent settlement after electricity was provided in the 1980’s. In time, the people of Lübbey abandoned their town and settled in Çamyayla. Today, life goes on in Çamyayla throughout the year.

There is even an elementary school. Lübbey village, which has spread to the slopes of a valley and filled with unique civic architecture examples, is now in ruins. This abandoned village is now in permanent sadness. The village has narrow streets, an old mosque and a small country cafe. It is time for local authorities to devise projects to keep this cute village from vanishing. You can reach Çamyayla by passing through single storey stone houses at the entrance of Yeniköy. These houses were built in the 60’s and were the first houses on the plateau. In the past, people who came to Çamyayla in the summer from Lübbey used to live in nomad tents. In later years, population increased at the plateau and it become a full fledged settlement with the arrival of electricity. The borders of the plateau start from Yeniköy and stretch all the way o the village center of Çamyayla. The creek bed that passes through the village has been rehabilitated. The plains between the two mountains that stretch all the way to Yeniköy are mostly covered with bean fields. You can see from the abundance of sycamore trees just how irrigated the plateau is. The source of the water has been placed under protection in recent years. Another important plateau is Başova. Başova Plateau is a great place with its clean water and rich air filled with oxygen. There are water sources all over the plateau. There are agricultural fields on vast plains between the mountains. This plateau also turned into a permanent settlement lately and is now regarded as a village. According to the village officer Fikret Bey, the plateau is 1002 meters above sea level and the second highest plateau on Bozdağlar after Gölcük. In order to get to Başova from Çamyayla you need to leave the road that leads to Ödemiş from the mountain and turn to the road that leads to Horzum Plateau. If you turn right after passing by an iron bridge above the stream you will reach Horzum plateau and if you turn left you will get to Başova. Both sides of the road that leads to Başova is covered in red pine trees. After a few kilometers the asphalt road turns into a stone paved road and continues like this all the way to the center of the village.

Horzum Plateau consists of vast plains that stretch all the way to the northeast of Keldağ. At the start of the plateau is Horzum village, which attracts attention with its peculiar minaret. This plateau used to be the settlement of nomads who came from Bursa. According to Ali Bey they believe they are the locals of the place compared to the people of Horzum.

Keldağ, which overlooks the topography around it, must have been used as a very important observation point throughout history. Today it has a similar function with the fire observation tower. There probably was a garrison on the mountain when it served as the protection point of Hypaipa. Archeological findings also strengthen this theory.

The dirt road that leads from Başova to Keldağ continues by winding to the left after passing by a few tombs. Another road that starts from the same point decelerates towards Kelebek Valley located in the northwest of Keldağ. The road that reaches Keldağ over Başova is covered with sharp lime stones.

Keldağ is in fact a limestone mass that rises between Rahmanlar Valley and Bayındır. Kelebek Valley consists of a rich geography that includes Darmara Basin and Küçük Menderes Plain. Rahmanlar Valley, located on the other side of Keldağ, boasts a number of small villages that reflect the historical structure of Ödemiş. Old Lübbey, which resembles an abandoned movie plateau, Derebebekler, Dereuzunyer and Üzümlü villages are just some of these villages. Dams are actually being built in both those valleys as we speak. The topography of the region will change dramatically when these two dams are finished. For example, the villages of Derebebekler and Dereuzunyer will be submerged under water and the location of Üzümlü will change. Artemis journeys continue in another village down the slope of Keldağ, tired from carrying the weight of centuries. There are many turns before you can reach this village. One of these turns leads to Hypaipa. The city was known by many names throughout history and is now called Günlüce. First, you will see the acropolis of the city on a small hill as you come down the winding road.

Even though it has been shadowed by Sardeis in the rural areas of Küçük Menderes Hypaipa was an important city that was rebuilt by the Romans in 17 A.D. after the great earthquake in Izmir. During the Hellenistic period, the city was built on a hill above today’s Günlüce. You can still see traces of the theater walls that was torn down in the 19th century. There are no traces from the temple. Unfortunately, the antique city has been lost because of Günlüce village; only a few architectural marble blocks remain. The most important artifact is the facade used in the fountain in the village square. Maybe it was a part of the Temple of Artemis, who knows? During the Byzantine era, Hypaipa was a settlement affiliated with the Ephesus Episcopacy. The archbishop who was wounded in Ephesus was brought to Hypaipa for treatment but died and was buried here.(6) When the Turcoman came to the region and the Aydınoğulları Seigniory came to power, Hypaipa became Tapay. We do not know if the lion statue on the wall of Aydınoğlu Mehmet Bey Mosque in Birgi was brought over from Hypaipa.

What we know for sure is that antique materials from Hypaipa were used in the construction of new settlements and buildings around Tapay. Today, only surface research has been conducted at Hypaipa and no antique materials were found except walls of some houses. The only concrete antique remain in the village is the dam known as Water Tower built during the Roman period and reflects the technological approach of the antique age. Some parts of the wall of the dam, built to collect water that came from Bozdağlar and prevent floods, can still be seen on both sides of the nearly collapsed bridge. Vaults that have supported the wall can still ve seen around the stream bed.

This dreamy journey that begins at the Temple of Artemis in Sardeis ends with tea in the country cafe at Günlüce village. Ödemiş is not far away now. Artemis journeys, which continue all the way to Tire via a road called the King’s Road, leads all the way to Ephesus via Çayırlı and Belevi. Cool Bozdağ plateaus are now far away. What is left is a pastoral memory.