This cosmopolitan seaside resort is composed of bright whitewashed dwellings tumbling down to a yacht-filled harbor. Chic boutiques, notable restaurants and outdoor cafés, and a colorful bazaar all add to the town’s considerable charm. First known as Halicarnassus, the ancient city was conquered by Alexander the Great in 334 B.C. and later obliterated by Arab invaders in A.D. 654. One can still view the extensive ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), destroyed by a series of earthquakes between the 12th and 15th centuries.
The Castle of St. Peter
The Halicarnassus site is impressive (the word “mausoleum” is derived from the memorialized name of its ruler, Mausolus), but equally fascinating is the Petronion, the Castle of St. Peter. Completed in 1437 by the Knights Hospitaller, it incorporates a mix of marble, local volcanic stone and, regrettably, marble columns and reliefs looted from the nearby mausoleum. The castle’s five turrets are named in honor of home countries of the Knights — Germany, Italy, France, Spain and England. Thus, you will see the crests of d’Aubussons and Plantagenets, among others.
The Museum of Underwater Archaeology
The castle is also home to the excellent Museum of Underwater Archaeology. Among the highlights are the front third of a Roman ship that has been fully restored; the recovered remains of the world’s oldest known wreck, from the 14th century B.C.; the cutaway of a cargo ship showing in detail how amphorae and other cargo were arranged in the holds to maximize space; and numerous glass bowls, glasses and flasks that were recovered intact, some almost paper-thin, others with vibrant colors.
Views from the Amphitheater
The best view of Bodrum and the surrounding area is from the magnificent amphitheater in the hills above town, begun during the time of Mausolus and used to this day.