Herakleia is a harbor city that was built in BC 350 at the command of King Mausolos of Caria. The people of the Gulf of Latmos (now Lake Bafa) were brought by force from Latmos to establish Herakleia.

The main means of subsistence for the people was the quarrying and selling of marble, mainly to richer cities such as Miletus and Didyma. As time went by the gulf was cut off from the rest of the coastline by the silting up of the river Meander, and so gradually the city lost its importance.

Monuments still standing are the relatively well preserved Temple of Athene and the extensive city walls, which date from Hellenistic times. Beşparmak Dağ (Mount Latmos) and Lake Bafa are places of great scenic beauty and mystery. After all, it was here that the Moon Goddess, Selene, fell in love with the shepherd Endymion and granted him immortality. The unusually-shaped Sanctuary of Endymion is still to be seen near the shore beside Herakleia.