A place of magnificent history cradled by the sea and sky, and offering both entertainment and tranquility. Bodrum is a blue dream, a gift of nature’s bounty.
The town was found around two crescent-shaped bays linked by Bodrum Castle, from which it radiates towards the surrounding hills, ith white houses crowned with colourful bougainvillea, their window frames painted the colour known as Bodrum blue. Not more than two storeys high, these clean white houses were built close togother to provide shade, forming narrow streets which lead to the sea; charming streets where wooden doors open onto secluded gardens. Bodrum’s unique character, a modern approach to living uniting the past and present , has made it one of the most outstanding resorts in Turkey and in the world.
As one of the most attractive coastal towns anywhere, Bodrum is also an important port of call for cruise ships, with at least 50 luxury calling at Bodrum’s big ship dock per year, some with up to 4000 pessengers. There are also ferryboats to many neighbouring Greek islands. The Milas – Bodrum Airport plays a vital role in Bodrum’s transportation network, serving millions of passengers per year on domestic and international flights, and is just 35 minutes from the town centre.
Bodrum yatch harbour extends along the coastal strip in the town centre, its natural beauty, facilities, capacity and modern infrastructure making it one of the most popular harbours in Turkey with foreign and Turkish yaching visitors.
Having a mix of venues of different styles: restaurants including local eateries, bistros, cafes, bars and night clups; Bodrum manages to be a resort which attracts and has something to please visitors of all ages and tastes. Local culture has been preserved in the old streets of the shopping area which bear traces of their centuries old history and rich cultural background. Bodrum has recently begun to make its mark as a golfing destination, now having golf clubs of international standart which have hosted various tournaments.
Bodrum history and famous natives
The magnificent city of antiquity, Halicarnassus – today Bodrum, is on a peninsula which has been much desired and fought over during its 3000 – year history. Before the founding of the modern Turkish Republic , Bodrum captivated people’s hearts and was in turn controlled by the Lelegians, Carians, Persians, Byzantines, Mentese Beyligi (Principality), the Knights of Rhodes and the Ottomans; and with traces of this rich past surviving to the present day, is a kind of town only rarely encountered.
In addition to the Mausoleum, which was one of the seven wonders of the world; Bodrum castle, the ancient theatre, Myndos Gate, the city walls, old houses, towers and many other structures have been a part of this town for centuries.
The Bodrum peninsula was part of the ancient region of Caria, home to the Kar tribe. Research and excavations have determined that the Carian civilisation dates back 3000 years. In addition to those of the Lelegians and Carians , the remains of many other civilizations are encountened in the area.
Bodrum was the hometown of Heredotus of Halicarnassus. Considered the world over to be the founder of the study of history, and known as the “Father of History”, the ancient writer Heredotus (484 – 425 B.C.) was born in Halicarnassus during its period of Persian rule.
He took an interest in the ancient life of the east, to which he was exiled, and was a travelling historian who witnessed wars and political and social events in Caira and Mediterrranean and northern regions. His work entitled “Historia” which later came to mean “History” in western languages, is the first book of its kind ever written. It is also considered the only source containing detailed information about the Persian Wars.
Mausolus and Artemisia
Coming to the throne in 377 B.C. After his father Hecatomnus, Mausolus moved the capital of the Kingdom of Caria to Halicarnassus,which was a turning point in the development of the city. Earning a place in history for her famous victory in Rhodes, Mausolus’s sister /wife Artemisia 2. gave theworld one ofits”Seven ancient wonders” in the from of the Mausoleum, the spectacular tomb she erected in memory of her husband.
The legend of Salmakis Fountain
One day of his travels, Hermaphroditus, the handsome son of Hermes and Aphrodite, the goddess of love, camo to the bay in Bodrum which is today called bardakci. While he was resting beside the stream there, the water fairy Salmakis fell in love with him at first sight, but he rejected her. She then prayed to the god that they may never be separated and they granted her wish uniting the pair in one body. This legend is the origin of the term “Hermaphrodite”, used to describe organisms having both male and female reproductive organs.
This was built in the center of Halicarnassus for Mausoleusi who died in 353 B.C., by his wife Artemisia Iıi who was also his sister. The Mausoleum was one of the seven wonders of the world. Today, the remains lie in a pit on the site. The monument’s base measured 32X38 meters, and it was situated in the northeast corner of an area whose long side measured 105 m.
According to ancient sources, the Mausoleum was comprised of four sections. At the base was a tall podium exhibiting local and Anatolian architectural style. Upon this was a Greek temple-type colonnade having a total of 36 Ionic columns, 11 on the long sides, and 9 0n the shorter sides; above which was en Egyptian influenced pyramidal roof with 24 steps, and finally at the very top, statues of Artemisia and Mausoleus in a chariot drawn by 4 horses. The Mausoleum was not touched when Alexander the Great captured the city in M.Ö. 334 B.C. And this huge monument stood in the center for 16 centuries.
The monument was severely damaged in the great Anatolian eartquake of 1304, and many of its stones were used by the Knights of St. Peter’s Castle (Bodrum Castle). The original reliefs and statues of Artemis and Mausolus were taken to Britain in the 19th century, and are now on display in the British Museum. Replicas of the Artemisia ans Mausolus statues may be seen in front of Bodrum castle.
Up to the 16th century, the world “Mausoleum” was used only for this monument, but with the Renaissance it became a general term referring to all monumental tombs of this type.
Thus, the English word “Mausoleum”, the French “Mausolee” and Turkish “Mozole” originate from the name of King Mausolos.
Although not in its former glory, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is still situated in the heart of Bodrum, and continues to add its magic to the town.
The Ancient Theatre
The theatre was the focal entertaintment point for the people of Halicarnassus. The ancient theatre is an imposing structure situated to the north of the old city, built into the south side of Goktepe Hill, an area which was used as a necropolis (cemetery). The theatre incorporates all the characteristics of pre Roman Empire theatres. Built by King Mausolus in the 4th century B.C., it is one of the oldest theatres in Anatolia.
Still standing with most of its important parts intact, including the altar just in front of the stage dedicated to Dionysus, the god of wine, the theatre has been renovated, and today hosts cultural and artistic events, and can seat an audience of 4000.
Imagining how the audiences of antiquity were able to wiev the harbour, the palace of Mausolus and magnificent Mausoleum as they sat on the tiers of the theatre, we can get a sense of the prominence of art in their lives and their fine tastes. Today’s audiences enjoy a dreamlike experience during the summer concerts and stage performances held in this spectacular, atmospheric, historic venue.
The Ottoman Tower
The first shipyard in Bodrum and forerunner to those of today , the ottoman Shipyard and Tower are located by the road at the west corner of Bodrum Marina. The watchtower at the shipyard entrance was erected to have forewarning against pirate attack, and today serves as an art gallery. The shipyard was founded in 1775 to provide new ships for the Ottoman navy, and the first ship’s keel was laid here in 1784.
Myndos is the ancient city that lies awaiting further discovery beneath the ground in the village of Gumusluk on the far west of the Bodrum peninsula, renowned for its enchanting views of the sun setting over Tavsan (Rabbit) Island at the entrance to the bay. Established by the lelegians, Myndos was an important port during the Carian period. The stones of the ancient harbour mole now lie just beneath the water of the bay, linking Tavsan Island to the mainland.
The mountain villages built by the inhabitants as refuges from the frequent pirate attacks of the 16th century have suffered less from the ravages of time. Gumusluk was built on the remains of ancient Myndos, and Hellenistic column capitals and other architectural remnants can be seen incorporated inte the walls of many of the houses.
Myndos was one of 8 Lelegian settlements founded on the Halicarnassus peninsula around 1200 B.C. Remains in the city date to the 4th century B.C. Excavations begun in 2005 at the side of hillside dwellings, a Roman bath, temple, holy spring of the Greek Orthodox, and similar places have revealed many movable and immovable artefacts. Later excavations on Tavsan Island uncovered bases of temples, a basilica, necropolis, water cisterns and aqueducts. Gumusluk of the magnificent sunsets continues to preserve the history of Myndos in its depths.
When the ruler of the day, Mausolus, moved the state’s capital to Halicarnessus in 377 B.C., he built 7 km long ramparts around the city. Access to the city through these very sound walls was via two gates on the east and west sides. The walls were damaged during the siege of Alexander the Great and the big Anatolian earthquake. Portions at the western entrance have been restored, and can be seen today in the open air museum on the site.
Bodrum Castle and Archaeology Museum
The castle of St. Peter (Bodrum Castle) is built on a rocky peninsula named Zephyria, situated between two bays. The Knights of St. John of Rhodes came to this region which had been inhabited by various peoples for millenniums, and began to built their own castle on the promontory in 1402. The Vatican accorded great importance to the construction of this castle, sending Christians to built it. In 1409, the Pope issued a circular declaring that anyone who worked on it would guarantee their place in heaven.
With the completion of the ramparts in 1437, the castle was finished, and following Rhodes, was the most strategically important point for the knights, who at the same time built a watchtower on a hill opposite the castle overlooking the bay. The Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum is housed in the castle built by the Knights of St. John. Nearly all the castle’s towers are today in use as museum display areas.
Without spoiling the castle’s atmosphere, new structures have been built inside to expand display space and house special exhibits such as the Serce Harbour and Uluburun shipwrecks. Another of the exhibits weel-worth visiting is that of the Carian Princess Island, who ascended to the throne after the death of King Mausolus, and whose tomb was discovered in 1989 complete with many valuable possessions of the princess, including her perfectly preserved gold crown.
Considered by Time Magazine to be one of the 10 most important archaelogical discoveries of the century, the world’s oldest known shipwreck, the Uluburun Wreck is on display in the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum, which is one of the most important of its kind anywhere.
This is an ancient city of the Lelegians, considered the earliest inhabitants of the Carian region, and is situated in the Gokceler neighbourhood of the Konacik district to the north of Bodrum Town. Visitors to the site will see the remains of tombs and walls that were perfectly constructed with outstanding stone craftmanship. A pleasant green walking path winds through Pedasa, which bequeathed to Bodrum by the the Lelegians, is one of the region’s oldest heritage sites.
Archaelogical surveys have found Lelegian period ramparts and settlement remains on the upper northern slopes and around the peak of Aspat hill. Military and agricultural structures have been found dating from the time of these earliest inhabitants of the peninsula on Strobilos (Aspat), which later became an important commercial port and military base for the Byzantine Empire in Western Anatolia. It was one of several ports opened for trading with Venice, which indicates there must have been considerable shipping traffic in the region.
The Maritime Museum
The origins of seafaring in Bodrum date back to Antiquity, and even as far back as the Bronze Age. Information and artefacts relating to the evolution of this vital aspect of Bodrum’s economic and social life are exhibited in the Maritime Museum in downtown Bodrum. Here, you can delve into Bodrum’s maritime history and see many models of Bodrum type boats, as well as enjoy one of the world’s largest shell collections.
Lelegian Tholos Tomb
This tomb is thought to have been built for their king by Caria’s Bodrum’s first inhabitants the Lelegians. More than 3000 years old, this tomb in the form of a tumulus overlooks the bay of Torba. The main reason it has survived to the present in the superior building skills and stone masonary of the Lelegian craftmen. Upon visiting the site, you will be struck by how Torba bay is under the surveillance of an ancient Leleg king. The Lelegians played an important role in Bodrum’s past, their culture influencing the peninsula and wider Aegean region, and further traces of their lives await discovery.
Kilisebükü bay is named for the Byzantine church on its shore, and is one of the main anchorages on a Blue Cruise out of Bodrum. There are many other ruins around the bay, which the remote location, long inaccessible by road, has preserved. Diving is forbidden in the bay.
Visited only yatchts, this bay is one of the rare places still retaining its natural assets and wealth. As the gateway to the Gulf of Gökova, Kilisebükü has special importance as a key to sustainable yachting tourism. This is an incomparable bay which Nature’s touch has endowed with great beauty, also containing remains from the Byzantine, Ottoman and Hellenistic periods.
The area around Gundogan Bay has several noteworthy historical sites, including the Peynir Cicegi cave where Chalcolictic and Eraly Bronze Age findings indicate the cave was used at least 5000 years ago, and the St. Apostol Church at the highest point on Kücük tacsan (Little Rabbit) island opposite the bay.
Ancient city of Telmessos
Another of the ancient settlements on the peninsula is Telmessos, the remains of which are on a hill to the north of the main road, in the village of Gürece. Here there are remnants of hellenistic period bastions. Herodotus of Bodrum wrote of a temple of Apollo here which he said was famous for prophesizing, but no traces of it remain.
The abandoned village of Girelbelen in a steep, pine-filled, unspoilt valley of Yalikavak, exhibits traces of Bodrum’s recent past, and charms visitors with its incomparable views.