|Known as Halicarnassos in ancient times, has always been fought over and people have been unwilling to share its beauty with others.
Built on a peninsula formed by the meeting of the eastern and western harbors, Bodrum, with its narrow streets winding down to the sea, is famous for its Castle, its world-renowned yachts ( Gulets ) , its shipyards and the dazzling white houses and tombs lining the shores of its two harbors.
Bodrum has been the cradle of several civilizations. Down through the ages it has suffered from the countless invasions of those coming from the Aegean islands and has been important to all those powers wishing to dominate the Aegean.Halicarnassos(Bodrum) was an important city in the Caria civilization which was located between its much more powerful neighbors Lykia and Ionia. The region boasts such greats as the historian Heredotus, history's first woman admiral Artemisia I, and the just-as-skilled Artemisia II as well as artists like Leachares and Shepas.
Bodrum experienced the dominance of various civilizations throughout the history such as Persians,Mecedonians,Roman Empire and Byzantines. Byzantines lost their power in Anatolian region after they were defeated by the Seljuk Ruler Alpaslan at Malazgirt in 1071. Rhodian knights had constructed the present Bodrum castle and established theirrule over the region. Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent on his military expedition to Rhodes conquered Bodrum together with Rhodes and added them to the territory of Ottoman Empire.
Where to Visit
The Underwater Archeological Museum of Bodrum
It is one of the most important and biggest museums of its kind in the world. The relics recovered from excavation which started in the 1960's are on display in this museum located in the Bodrum Castle.The Eastern Mediterranean amphora collection as well as findings resulting from research on sunken ships in the immediate vicinity are on display. The significant of this sunken ships are those at Yassıada, Şeytan Brook and Serçe Harbour. The remains of the oldest known sunken ship in the world are also here and well-worth seeing.
Bodrum Castle Tel: (+90-252) 316 10 95
Open hours to visit: 10:00-12:00, 14:00-18:00
Open days to visit: Everyday except Monday.
Bodrum Castle (Saint Petrum)
Built by the Knights of Rhodes in the 15th century and dedicated to St. Peter, the construction of the castle was completed in 99 years. It was built on Zephyrion island, the original site of the city of Halicarnassos.Stones and reliefs from the Mausoleum of King Mausolos were used in its construction. There are 5 towers in this castle; French, English, Italian, German and Snake towers. The castle covers approximately 30,000 sq. meters.
Maussolleion Open Air Museum
It gets its name from the fact that the tomb of Mausolos, the King of Caria, is located here. His wife, also his sister, had the most famous architects of the day design the structure. It was almost completely destroyed in the Great Anatolian earthquake. There is a small museum here at the site of this tomb which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The word "maussolleion" is taken from King Mausolos' name. Many of the stones of this Mausoleum were used in the construction of Bodrum Castle. The beautiful reliefs on the grave, however, were taken to the British Museum during the excavations in the 19th century.
The theater is located on the Bodrum - Turgutreis road. It has an audience capacity of 13,000 seats. The stage area has been uncovered and the seats have been restored.
Located west of the city, it is one of the entrances to the city of Halicarnassos. The Myndos Door consisted of two monumental towers and an inner courtyard at the gate that lead to the city.
Cisterns built by the Ottomans and known as "Gümbet" can be seen all over the peninsula. They were built by the wealthy citizens who named the cisterns after themselves.
TRADITIONAL BODRUM HOUSES
The common features of the traditional architecture used in Bodrum are windowless first floors and doors on the second storey with access by way of ladders that can be drawn up into the house. These houses, which are now protected by the government, are located mostly in the villages of Ortakent and Kocakaya above Gümüşlük. Individuals,such as artists and writers who have settled in Bodrum have done a great service to the area by restoring older houses and this has made it an even more interesting place to visit.
With everything from manufacturing and maintenance to repair and operation, the yachting center of Turkey is Bodrum. The tradition of building schooners continues in the İçmeler Shipyard, whose name has become almost synonymous with Bodrum itself. As big as many modern shipyards, luxury sailboats up to 40 meters can be built here using the latest available technology.
The yacht races in Bodrum are probably the only ones in the world that completely inexperienced people can participate in, even children have participated. The Bodrum Cup is the most comfortable competition for 15-30 m. luxury yachts in the world.
On the Aegean coast, Bodrum is famous for its colourful life. Besides the vitality and colourfulness of the city in the daytime, Bodrum is also renowned for its exceptionally appealing nightlife From İskele Square to the end of Kumbahçe District, Cumhuriyet Street is lined with bars, pubs, discos and taverns that guarantee fun and good times for people of all ages. In the mysterious darkness of the Bodrum nights, the magical shimmer that surrounds Bodrum castle adds a certain charm to the atmosphere. The heartbeat of the city's nightlife is in the bars of Bodrum where every kind of music, from jazz to tavern music, can be heard.
CASTLE OF ST. PETER
The most prominent feature of Bodrum must be the Castle of St. Peter. Whether entering the town by land or sea, one cannot help but be struck by the Castle's sturdy presence. One of the world's best preserved monuments from medieval times, it stands as a solid testament to the Bodrum area as a place worth defending.
The Castle's origins go back to the Knights of St. John, a group of expatriates who drew their ranks from Europe. This "Order of the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem" began in the Eleventh Century with a church and hospital set up for pilgrims in Jerusalem. The hospital operated under the strict code that care be denied to no one, although those who did not belong to the Catholic faith were confined to a separate ward.
The order began with solely religious powers and functions, but the Crusades and other political events forced it into military pursuits. The Christians beliefs of the order took on a fanatical nature, and the Knights thought of themselves as soldiers of Christ and defenders of the Holy Places of Jerusalem. The Order enjoyed numerous battle successes during the Crusades, gaining many rich donations and Papal favors in the process.
The Knights were composed of seven different Languages or Tongues, so called because of language differences. They came from France, Italy, Spain, England, Germany and Provence and Auvergne (both now provinces of France). Each of these pious Catholic groups operated under the leadership of a knight of their own country. The Castle's origins go back to the Knights of St. John, a group of expatriates who drew their ranks from Europe.
The Order classified its members as either Knights, Serving Brothers or Chaplains, all under the command of the Grand Master (who was elected for life). The Knights were all of noble birth and served the Order without pay. At their deaths they routinely left all their possessions to the Order.
In 1309 the Knights formed their own community and government headquarters on the island of Rhodes. This was an ideal base for operations because of its position between the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.
The Order did not require the presence of each knight at all times, and some spent time in Europe at their estates (many of them were wealthy) or on duty at various hospitals along the pilgrim routes. However, if they were needed to defend the island headquarters, they were required to return as soon as possible.
fter erecting a castle on the island of Cos, the Knights needed a stronghold on the mainland of Asia Minor. In 1374 they acquired Symrna (where the city of Izmir now stands), which a league of Christian powers had conquered earlier from the Seljuks and built a castle there. The Mongol leader Tamerlane had his hordes destroy this edifice in 1402, however, starting off a century-long struggle between the Knights and the Ottoman Turks.
The search for a new site led the Knights to a small island set between two sheltered bays, (water once completely surrounded the Castle). Ruins showed evidence of an ancient castle, now known to have been erected during Doric Times (1110 BC), as well as a small Turkish castle from the 11th CAD. Just 1 km to the north stood one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Tomb of King Mausolus (now called The Mausoleum) reduced to ruins by an earthquake.
In an area where successive groups of people have lived for thousands of years, each new group tends to use building materials left behind by previous inhabitants. The careful observer walking through the backstreets of Bodrum will see many old houses with ancient blocks and column pieces embedded in their walls.
Not ones to waste useful building materials themselves, the Knights instructed their builders to remove any usable portions from the Tomb of King Mausolus when Castle construction began in 1402. Much of the Mausoleum was built with a green colored rock, pieces of which now adorn the Castle walls. Visitors can also see column bases in the sides of several towers. In 1846, Sir Stratford Canning, British Ambassador to Istanbul, took from the Castle 12 marble reliefs depicting the battle between the Greek and the Amazons (which the Knights took from the Mausoleum) and sent them to London.
The Vatican attached great importance to the building of the Castle and send Christians to work there. In 1409 the Papal Office issued a decree that all those who assisted in the construction would receive a guaranteed reservation in Heaven.
German Architect Heinrich Schlegelholt supervised construction of the Castle, seeing to it that it incorporated the latest in castle design. The French had developed the art of cannon foundry by this time, so gun embrasures were built along the top of the Castle's walls, especially those facing landward. The Crusaders had a powerful fleet of warships, so they had little fear of attack from the sea (the walls facing the mainland were also built much thicker than those facing the sea). Also, the Knights decided a second and third line of defense were necessary, resulting in a more complicated moat system than that of most castles.
astle construction continued throughout the 15th Century, with the first walls completed by 1437. The Chapel, (which still stands in its original place inside the Castle) was one of the first completed structures. The Knights also built a watchtower overlooking the bay from a hill opposite the Castle, the remains of which stand, sporting a Turkish flag, above the present-day Turkish military resort.
In the inner Castle, wide areas were excavated in the natural rock to from cisterns for collecting rainwater (including the one under the chapel there are 14). These cisterns, some of which are still in use, supplied the Knights with water when the Castle was under siege.
In 1409 the Papal Office issued a decree that all those who assisted in the construction would receive a guaranteed reservation in Heaven. The Knights began referring to the town as Mesy, unaware of its ancient name, and the new Castle of St. Peter soon became the Knights' most important position outside Rhodes. In conjunction with the castle of Antimahia on the island of Cos, it oversaw the most heavily used shipping route of the day.
The fortress became known as the Castle of St. Peter The Liberator because it served as the sole place of refuge for all Christians on the west coast of Asia Minor. The Knights kept a special breed of dog in the Castle, who could track down refugees and bring them to safety, much like the famous St. Bernard.
Life in the Castle was rather slow in between battles, so the Knights had plenty of time to adorn the walls with hundreds of coats of arms and carved reliefs. Coats of arms were first used by the Crusaders during their conquest of Jerusalem. The heat of the Middle East made it impossible to fight with their normal heavy armor, so the Knights, like their Muslim Foes, emblazoned their surcoats and shields with colorful symbols.
The various coats of arms spread throughout the Castle have lost the brilliant colors they once wore, making it more difficult to identify who or what they once stood for. The arms in general show lions, dragons, crosses and horizontal and vertical bands. Each knight had his own design, and others signified certain countries, religious figures, Castle commandants and grand masters of the Order. A total of 249 separate designs remain.
ther historical records have helped to identify most of these symbols. For example, above each of the seven gates in the Castle lie the arms of several known knights and grand masters, while the Royal Arms of France adorn the north wall of the inner moat. Religious motifs were also included, such as one on a high western wall depicting the Virgin Mary and the Apostle Peter holding the keys of Heaven to his breast.
For over a century the Castle of St. Peter served as an integral stronghold in the Knights' community. The Ottoman Empire continued to grow, however, and in 1453 Mehmet II, Sultan of Turkey, conquered Constantinople and announced his aggressive intentions towards the Knights' holdings. The Knights resisted his attack, however, as well as another in 1480.
By 1521, Turkish leader Süleyman the Magnificent was ready to challenge the Order's headquarters in Rhodes. After an exchange of letters with Grand Master Fabrico del Carretto war was declared. In June 1522, 200.000 Turkish soldiers gathered in the Bay of Marmaris. The Knights withstood the siege for six months, but were forced to surrender in January 1523. The Castle of St. Peter soon followed.
Sultan Süleyman spared the Knights' lives and they sailed to the island of Crete. In 1530 Charles V, Emperor of Austria, Spain and Sicily, gave the Mediterranean island of Malta to the Knights. Napoleon Bonaparte chased them away in 1798, and the order then dissolved. It was revived in England in 1831, however, and at present still carries out its mission as a first aid organization, independent from any government, in more than 30 countries. The Pope approved new legislation for the order in 1961.
The Castle underwent several different uses under Turkish care. In the 17th Century villagers erected several houses within the Castle. In the Greek revolt of 1824 the Turks used it and the town as a military base. Later in the 19th Century Turkish builders installed a public bath and converted the chapel to a mosque by adding a minaret. And in 1895, the Castle was fortified and used as a prison.
In the First World War a French warship fired on the Castle, damaging several towers and toppling the minaret. After the war the Italians, who occupied the Anatolian shore from Kusadasi to Antalya, put a garrison in the Castle. They also repaired the Italian and French towers and tried to establish good relations with Turkey. When it became obvious that the war of independence led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk would be won by the Turks, the Italians withdrew in 1921. Turkish government decided to use it as a storeroom for underwater findings from several recent shipwreck excavations.
The Castle stood empty for almost 40 years, until the Turkish government decided to use it as a storeroom for underwater findings from several recent shipwreck excavations. The government soon decided these findings were worthy of a separate museum, and what better place for it than the Castle itself?
Oguz Alpözen first came to the museum in 1962 as an archaeology student, and in 1968 he became its first official staff underwater archaeologist. Since 1978 he has served as Director of the castle and in an interview he emphasized that the Castle museum holds a lot more of interest than might first meet the eye.
"We have many, many things to see here," Alpözen said. "I think the first-time visitor tends to over look a lot of it."
One feature often overlooked is the careful selection of plant life flourishing in the inner garden. The collection represents nearly every plant and tree of the Mediterranean region, including many with mythological significance. The Myrtle, for example, was the holy tree of the Goddess Aphrodite, while the Plane tree's shadow was considered healthinducing by kings and nobility. Plant enthusiasts might also recognize the rare Mandrake, once used for its anaesthetic properties. A wide variety of flowers, cacti and other trees round out the living display.
"We also have many doves, the bird dedicated to Aphrodite, as well as fourth generation peacocks" Alpözen said. He explained that wealthy people of ancient times were quite fond of peacocks, often adopting them as personal symbols. But the main purpose of the museum is to display a wide range of fascinating underwater findings; many brought to modern day viewers from thousands of years ago. Ninety percent of the museum's holdings come from the sea (the rest are land findings from the Bodrum area), and they are spread throughout the Castle in a myriad of atmospheric halls and galleries. The Chapel, for instance, now houses the Bronze Age Hall, full of findings from around 2500 BC. The first floor of the Italian Tower houses the Coin and Jewelry Hall, a wide collection spanning many centuries. (Also, two art galleries display the works of modern Turkish artists, and the northern moat is used as a theatre during the Bodrum festival.) Alpözen has published a book in English (separate form a Turkish edition), called "Bodrum, Ancient Halicarnassus", that gives a complete description of the Castle's contents. It is available in the bookstore under the main mosque in town.
One of the most recent openings in the Castle demonstrates how ancient history is a part of daily life in Bodrum. In digging foundations for a new house up by the main highway, a tomb was discovered containing the remains of a Carian princess dating from between 360 and 325 BC. A spectacular find of major importance, the skeletal remains were found draped in fold appliqued clothing and adorned in gold jewelry including crown, bracelets, rings and necklace. The well-preserved state of the remains has allowed a British team of specialists to reconstruct the skull and facial features of this ancient noblewoman. In honor of this important find the Bodrum Castle opened a private hall devoted exclusively to the display of the Carian princess and her artifacts.
nderwater excavations are continuing in the Bodrum area, funded and operated by an American-based archaeological group. Students also come from around the world to assist and learn the intricacies of underwater excavation and preservation.
Currently the group is at work on several projects including restoration of an 11th Century shipwreck and another from the Ottoman Empire. Both of these will be on display within two or three years Alpözen said.
He added that during peak months (May to October) the museum receives about 1,000 visitors per day. This number should increase in response to other new attractions coming to the Castle, such as the opening of a dungeon used by the Knights, as well as a fully functional Turkish bath.