Standing on the remains of ancient Halicarnassus, Bodrum is one of Turkey’s most popular seaside resorts. Offering golden-sand beaches and clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea, it was once a small fishing village. Today trendy restaurants, boutique hotels and dazzling nightlife draw tourist crowds, who come to Bodrum to enjoy the sun and the sea during summer months.
Once a place of exile for the “internal enemies” of modern Turkey, Bodrum started gaining attention by Turkish intellectuals and artists after the writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, who was exiled here, begun to talk the place up. Resembling the Greek Cycladic Islands, with low whitewashes buildings dominating Bodrum’s architecture, it is now one of Turkey’s most popular travel destinations.
Walking around Bodrum is highly suggested since distances are small and the surroundings are quite scenic. For longer distances you can hop on a “dolmus”, a local shared taxi with fixed route, which will cost you around half a euro. Privet taxis are also available for a higher, yet still affordable, price.
Things to see and do in Bodrum
Mausolus, the king of Caria, moved his kingdom’s capital from Mylasa to Halicarnassus in 4th century BC. Bodrum was also the place where he decided to build his mausoleum, a gigantic white-marble tomb, which used to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately not much is left today at the archaeological site of the Mausoleum; however, visitors can see a covered arcade, some marble columns’ remains, parts of the ancient drainage system and the entrance to Mausolus’ tomb.
The Mausoleum was mostly destroyed during 15th century by the Knights Hospitallers from nearby Rhodes Island, who took Mausolus’ marble in order to construct the Castle of St Peter at Bodrum’s waterfront. The castle is today open to the public, where visitors can see the defensive fortifications and a mosque, which was added there after the castle was captured by the Ottomans. Probably Bodrum’s most significant attraction, the castle may need up to a day to fully explore.
Within the castle’s grounds you will be able to see several fascinating exhibitions. Start with the on-site Museum of Underwater Archaeology, where you can admire treasures and artefacts discovered in the bottom of the Aegean Sea near Bodrum. Inside the castle’s main hall you will come across a wide collection of amphorae from 14th century BC up to date.
Visit the chapel to take an up-close look at a full-sized model of a Roman ship, or climb up the tower to visit Glass Wreck Hall and admire an authentic recovered shipwreck from 1025. Next to Glass Wreck Hall you will find Glass Hall, where several artefacts, from 15th century BC until 14th century, are on display.
In the castle’s French Tower, you will see the remains of an ancient woman, who is rumoured to be Carian Princess Ada and was discovered buried with pounds of golden jewellery, most of which are exhibited at nearby Carian Princess Hall. Golden jewellery and other precious exhibits are also presented at the castle’s Treasure Room. A café and some craft shops are also available within the castle.
The Ancient Theatre of Halicarnassus, which was first built by king Mausolus in 4th century BC and expanded during Roman times, is one of most well-preserved ancient sites of Bodrum. Located on Gumbet Road, it still hosts plays during summer months. Constructed during the same era, Myndos Gate, or “kapisi” in Turkish, stands in west Bodrum and is the only structure out of a 7-kilometer defensive wall which has survived during the centuries.