Bodrum, formerly Halicarnassus, is a vibrant seaside resort and popular tourist destination. It is located in the province of Muğla on the southwestern Mediterranean coast in Turkey. And it is a district that attracts a lot of attention with its intense and colorful nightlife, beautiful beaches, historical sites, quality hotels, and holiday villages.
By the way, if you want to learn more about Bodrum, you can find it here. Also, check our post about Bodrum.
Finally, it is possible to reach these places, which we recommend you see, both by land and sea.
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Knights and conquests
Bodrum has a rich 3,000-year history, replete with military campaigns, naval victories, knights, and conquests.
In ancient times, the city had the name Halicarnassus. In 546 BC, like most Anatolian cities, it came under Persian domination. Sixty years later Carian dynasty ruled the city. And the most famous member was Queen Artemesia.
When Xerxes, the Persian King of Kings, was preparing for his invasion of Greece, Artemesia joined his forces, contributing several fighting ships.
During a naval engagement in 480 BC in which the Persian fleet was routed, Artemesia displayed unusual bravery, causing Xerxes to exclaim:
“My men have shown themselves women and my women men.”
Bodrum Castle and Underwater Archeology Museum
If partying until dawn is not your scene, Bodrum does possess a few sites to keep history buffs happy. And the most prominent, the Castle of St. Peter, commands the harbor. Its battlements and fortress walls are still intact and wonderfully illuminated at night.
The Knights of St. John built the castle in 1402. And he refortified it at the end of the century using remnants plundered from the fabled Mausoleum.
The castle once lay on an island before it was connected to the mainland, splitting the harbor in half. Interestingly, the fortress was the last stronghold of the Christians before the Ottomans forced them to abandon it.
Passing through seven gates, you come to the castle’s inner sanctum. It houses the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. And the prize exhibit is the wreck of a sixth-century ship, believed to be one of the oldest in the world.
Another wreck is the Glass Shipwreck because of the horde of glass bottles and other items recovered from it. The boat sank in the 11th century after hitting rocks off Serce.
The Myndos Gate was the first place Alexander the Great used to besiege the city. And it takes its name from the ancient city of Myndos, known today as Gümüşlük. The Myndos Gate is the best-preserved part of the city walls that have survived.
Long story short, this place witnessed many bloody conflicts during Alexander’s Asian expedition. The Carians and Persians defending the city fell before Alexander’s army. And Alexander the Great captures the city, leaves a garrison of 2500 people on Princess Island, and continues on his way.
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mausoleum was an immense, lavishly decorated tomb for Maussollos, the ruler of Caria. Maussollos’s kingdom, which he had moved to Halicarnassos (modern Bodrum), was under the ultimate rule of the Persians.
They had taken control of Asia Minor after defeating the Lydians. The Persians preferred to rule from afar through a governor. And Maussollos was one such governor.
Maussollos married his sister Artemisia. And, after his death, she commissioned the Mausoleum. The resting place is believed to have taken about 20 years to construct and was completed in 350 BC.
Artemisia ordered the best sculptors to carve statues of lions and chariot horses, and friezes of figures in battle. She also commissioned colossal statues of Maussollos and herself.
Looting by the Knights of St. John and excavations in the mid-19th century by Sir Charles Newton, who took his trove to the British Museum in London, barely spared the foundations of the Mausoleum. The knights even opened up and pillaged the tomb chamber. Locals have since scavenged the stumpy remains and slotted them into their houses.
There is little to see, but if you want to walk on the sad remains, you can reach the Mausoleum on the Gumusliik road from Bodrum.
On a hill above the city, next to a busy highway, is a theater. It also dates from the reign of Maussollos. After reconstruction, it offers an inspiring view of the castle and boats sailing in and out of the harbor. It must have been difficult for the 13,000-strong audience to concentrate on the plays and sacrifices offered to Dionysos.
The Bodrum Ancient Theatre
The theatre dates back to the 4th century B.C. in King Mausolos’ era. Its shape reminds horseshoe because architects constructed it according to ancient tradition, with its back toward a mountain.
It is one of the oldest and most beautiful ancient theatres in Turkey. The upper part of the theatre has fallen victim to time, and most of the seating areas have disappeared.
People used the rectangular altar for sacrifices to Dionysos, god of wine and theatre, in the religious rituals of the antique ages. And the Ancient Theatre is one of the oldest in Turkey.
The theatre still hosts many concerts and festivals in Bodrum. By the way, it serves around 13,000 people.
The Ancient City of Pedasa
Pedasa is only 4 km away from Bodrum. And it is the best preserved of the Legian cities.
Today, the ruins of the city of Pedas occupy an area of about 150 meters. Only fragments of the fortress walls and two inner towers remain here. Also, you will find several domed tombs on the southern part of the hill.
Worth noting that ancient lelegs used the boxwood-like drywall technique (a circular stack of stones) to build it.
But you can only get to the ruins on foot because there is no highway. When you see the domed tombs resembling old cisterns, you will realize that you are approaching Pedasa. It is a nice place for walks, and small picnics. Enjoy the panoramic view and plunge into the atmosphere of antiquity.
Zeki Muren Museum
Zeki Muren is a famous Turkish singer and actor. And he had a unique voice indeed! In the last years of his life, the singer spent time in Bodrum at his villa. And this villa later became a house museum. The collection includes personal belongings of the singer, photos from the family archive, correspondence with friends, and a huge collection of stage costumes.
Final Thoughts About Bodrum
By the way, few people know that 80% of ancient monuments well preserved for tourists are not in Greece. But they are in Turkey. And almost half of them are in the Bodrum region. There is something to see both in the city itself and on the peninsula: this is the crusading fortress of St. Peter, a museum of underwater archeology, the ancient city of Pedasa, Halicarnassus, and other historical sights. Another opportunity for tourists in Bodrum is a yacht trip around the entire coast of the peninsula. You will enjoy the landscapes of incredible beauty!
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