Visitors of all walks of life invariably fall in love with Bodrum, Turkey, with its beautiful views, glorious sunshine, crystal clear sea and abundance of ancient history.
Located in the region where the Aegean and Mediterranean meet, the town of Bodrum (called Halicarnassus in ancient times) is a rich mixture of traditional and modern. From the town's grand crowning castle in the modern harbour-front and glittering marina to its flower-filled cafes and Greek-style white-stucco buildings, the town offers something for every guest.
Like many historic cities along the Mediterranean, much of the original construction was destroyed in battle and rebuilt in times of peace. History buffs will be pleased to note that most of the walls of the original ancient city can still be traced around their circuit.
Bodrum Castle / St. Peter's Castle
Located near the present-day harbour, the Bodrum castle (originally called St. Peter's Castle) was constructed by the Knights Hospitalier (based in Rhodes) beginning in 1402. The building materials are believed to have been taken from the mausoleum of the King of Caria (4th century BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The castle has functioned as a residence, administrative offices, military base, prison and is now a maritime museum housing the world-class Museum of Underwater Archaeology. It was originally built with a Christian chapel, but was converted to a mosque in the 19th century. The castle also features:
- Crusader architecture, including several towers, a moat and a drawbridge
- A hamam, which was added in the 19th century
- Coats of arms and painted reliefs representing the countries and personal symbols of the grand masters, castle commandants, knights and religious figures important in the era
- Flower-filled gardens complete with peacocks, to provide visitors a relaxing respite from the bustling town
- Amazing views of the town, twin bays, and surrounding area
Interestingly, the Bodrum of today is a relatively new development. Just a few decades ago, Bodrum was a simple sponge-diving and fishing village with few amenities – a place where dissidents against Ataturk's Turkish republic were sent into exile. Popular Turkish author Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı (AKA the Fisherman of Halicarnassus) was exiled to castle-turned-prison in the nondescript town in 1925, and quickly fell in love with the place. After serving his time, he remained in the area, introducing an entire generation of Turkish intellectuals, writers and artists to Bodrum's charms. (Fortunately for the sailing enthusiasts, he is also recognized as the person responsible for popularizing Blue Voyages along the Turquoise Coast!)
Since then, Bodrum has evolved into a bustling tourist destination favoured by artists and art-lovers. Over one million visitors flock to the vibrant town each summer to enjoy its galleries, concerts, beaches, boutique hotels, and clubs.
In the world of yachting, the waters around the Bodrum peninsula are recognized as a prime area for sailing due to fairly constant and predictable winds, exquisite harbours and marinas. The area is home to some of the most beautiful and luxurious yachts in the world. And, the local shipbuilders and craftsmen have the reputation for building some of the finest classic wooden gulets in the world.
Well, this is embarrasing! This post is supposed to include a photo gallery, but we don't have any pictures of Bodrum that do it justice. (Don't worry, it's on the agenda for 2018.) We'll add them here as soon as we can.
Have you been to Bodrum, Turkey? Have you got photos or information that you'd like included in this article? Please get in touch if you have something to share. We'd love to hear from you!