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
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
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
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
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