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Bodrum

Getting to know Bodrum

Bodrum is Turkey’s Turquoise Coast’s most dynamic city. There are plenty of whitewashed old houses to photograph in the town, as well as a marina full of yachts ready to whisk you out to the Aegean for a lazy day of coastal sightseeing between swimming stops; and if you’re looking for more than the beach, there are a few historic tourist attractions to visit.

When tourism began to arrive in the mid-twentieth century, Bodrum, formerly known as Halicarnassus and reduced to a fishing village by the Ottomans, saw a resurgence.

Tourists from all over the world visit Bodrum to take advantage of its allure as one of Turkey’s top destinations for sun and sea vacations.

Scenery from a Boat Ride

Bodrum’s main draw is its proximity to the sea. Even though the vast majority of visitors come here to relax in the sun and surf, the most common way to see the island is by boat.

Over the course of the summer, there are literally hundreds of different boat tours to choose from, including everything from day trips around the Bodrum Peninsula to multi-day yacht trips to the Greek Islands, where you can swim in secluded coves accessible only by boat.

Both public and private yacht tour companies advertise in Bodrum’s harbor, but most visitors prefer to book through their hotels when looking for a daylong or half-day boat excursion.

Short day and half-day cruises still allow you to see a lot of the Aegean’s famed rocky coastline while also allowing you to spend hours on the boat sunbathing and swimming when you want!

The Underwater Archaeology Museum

For those who have no interest in underwater archaeology, this fantastic museum inside St. Peter Castle is a must-see. The upper floor of the castle has recently been restructured and restored, where the exhibitions are shown.

Museum displays artifacts from both underwater excavations off the coast of Turkey as well as archaeological excavations on the Bodrum Peninsula.

As the museum’s centerpiece, a 16-meter Byzantine shipwreck from 1026 CE is displayed in the Serçe Liman Glass Wreck chamber. Amphorae and glass objects from the ship’s cargo are on display in the exhibit cases surrounding it.

The museum also has artifacts from a Mycenaean necropolis near Ortakent on the peninsula, as well as a large collection of amphorae and highly decorated ceramics from multiple Bronze Age shipwrecks.

The St. Peter's Castle

Bodrum’s Castle of St. Peter, which looms over the city’s beachfront, is a must-see for visitors.

The Knights Hospitallers of St. John erected the structure between 1402 and 1437, and different nationalities of knights were tasked with guarding different parts of the walls.

All the way down to the dungeons is the Gatineau Tower, which is guarded by an enormous lion sculpture on its west wall.

During the Ottoman sultan Süleyman the Magnificent’s reign, the fortress was taken over by the Turks and converted into a mosque.

The Museum of Underwater Archaeology in Bodrum now occupies several of the castle’s large halls.

The beaches of the Bodrum Peninsula

During the summer months of June through August, the beaches of the Bodrum Peninsula are a popular destination for tourists who aren’t staying in Bodrum itself.

The most popular beaches are found in the peninsula towns of Ortakent, Bitez, Gümbet, and Turgetreis, where visitors can enjoy both free public beaches and private beach clubs.

Bodrum Town has two strips of beach right in the middle of town for those who don’t want to travel far for swimming and sunbathing.

Expect to find only one beach on the entire peninsula, which is popular with both local and European visitors.

The Mausoleum of Mausolus

If you can imagine it, this mound of ancient marble and debris may not look like much now, but it was once one of the ancient world’s most impressive structures.

Architect Pytheos built the Mausolus Mausoleum in Halicarnassus (Bodrum’s old name) as the final resting place for King Mausolus (376-353 BC).

The 46-meter-tall structure was adorned with beautiful friezes created by some of the most famous Greek artists of the time.

Despite decades of earthquake damage, it was only finally destroyed by the Knights Hospitallers, who used its stones to build the Castle of St. Peter.

The Old Town of Bodrum

The small streets surrounding the beach, bazaar, and marina in Bodrum are the most fascinating part of the city. While Fethiye has a more modern appearance, the lanes of Bodrum are lined with bougainvillea-draped and vine-clad whitewashed cottages, giving the town a distinct Aegean atmosphere and charm.

You can still see remnants of Bodrum’s former fishing community along these narrow, winding roads, which make for excellent subjects for landscape photographers.

The Aegean

There are a variety of water activities available at the peninsula’s beaches for guests who want to be more active while they’re in Bodrum, including boat cruises.

At beaches like Bitez, Ortakent, and Gümbet, you can rent kayaks, and parasailing is a popular activity for thrill seekers. Many beaches on the peninsula now offer paddleboarding, including Turgutreis’ Camel Beach and Ortakent’s Camel Beach.

There’s no better place for some retail therapy than the Bazaar Bodrum. There are numerous shaded pathways that form the current bazaar area behind St. Peter’s Castle. It’s busiest after dark, when diners stroll through on their way home from a night out on the town.

The Bazaar

It’s a posher version of a traditional Turkish market, with proper shops instead of stalls in the bazaar in Bodrum. Although it doesn’t allow for a lot of haggling, its variety makes up for it.

Everything from Turkish and Central Asian fabrics, vibrant local pottery, and handcrafted woodwork to a bling-fest of gold shops, stylish beachwear, and fashion can be found here.

There are also numerous restaurants, ice cream parlors, and dessert shops scattered throughout the area.

The Historic Windmills Site

On the slope that divides Bodrum Bay from Gümbet Bay, the few surviving windmills of Bodrum can be found.

A favorite spot to watch the sun set over the bays of Bodrum and Gümbet, the windmills themselves are not worth a visit.

In spite of this, the summit is a two-kilometre hike from the Bodrum marina, where most visitors arrive by car. You can, however, walk it during the day, but not in the middle of it.

Stratonikeia

This historic site can easily be visited as a day trip from Bodrum, but the number of people who go there is surprisingly low. Even if you’ve been to Ephesus or other well-known ancient Turkish cities, a walk among these ruins is a welcome change of pace.

Archaeological evidence suggests Stratonikeia was an important commercial center in Classical times, when it was first inhabited by Bronze Age Hittites.

As Eskihisar, the village of Stratonikeia continued to exist until the early years of the Turkish Republic, unlike many other Greco-Roman cities.

There are only a few families left in Stratonikeia, but many Ottoman-era monuments and palaces have been preserved from the 19th century, as well as the older remains.

To get to the magnificent double-arched northern gate, roads wind through Stratonikeia’s unique stratified landscape of decaying and ruined Ottoman stone homes.

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