Bodrum Castle (Bodrum Kalesi), also known as The Castle of St. Peter, in Bodrum, Turkey was built by the Knights Hospitaller in 1402 in order to offer protection from the invading Seljuk Turks.
Constructed according to the highest standards at the time, it remained an important Christian stronghold for over a century, serving as a focal point in Asia Minor. Bodrum Castle incorporates many pieces from the nearby Mausoleum of Mausolus, including sculptures and building materials, the latter of which were used to strengthen Bodrum Castle from invasion by Sultan Suleiman in 1522.
Today, Bodrum Castle is open to the public and houses the world renowned Museum of Underwater Archaeology founded in 1962. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Turkey.
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Bodrum, town, southwestern Turkey. It lies at the northern end of the Gulf of Kerme (ancient Ceramic Gulf) of the Aegean Sea, opposite the Greek island of Cos.
It was built on the ruins of ancient Halicarnassus by the Hospitallers, a Crusading order, who occupied the site in 1402. Their spectacular castle, the Petronium, or Castle of St. Peter, remained a Christian stronghold until the Ottoman sultan Süleyman I the Magnificent captured it in 1522. The castle continues to be the town’s major landmark. The ruins of the Mausoleum of Mausolus, ruler of Caria (4th century bce ), at Halicarnassus are also notable. The town was briefly occupied by Italy between 1919 and 1921. Bodrum is picturesquely situated before a backdrop of green hills and is now a growing tourist resort. Pop. (2000) 32,227 (2013 est.) 35,795.
Turkey Bodrum Castle: Home to history, sea archaeology
Once a chateau for European knights, today Bodrum Castle in southwestern Turkey is a gateway to history with its unique museum of underwater archeology.
Also known as the castle of the Knights of St. John, Bodrum Castle has been on UNESCO&rsquos tentative world heritage list since 2016.
&ldquoThe castle has five towers. Knights from different countries lived in each -- British, French, Italian, German, and Spanish towers,&rdquo Tayfun Selcuk, acting director of the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, told Anadolu Agency.
The castle is situated in Turkey&rsquos southwestern port town of Bodrum, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Aegean.
Selcuk said the castle also served as a prison in the decades before World War I, and before that was a military base.
The nearly 500-year-old castle is now looking to leap onto UNESCO&rsquos permanent World Heritage List.
Located on a rocky peninsula between two harbors, for more than a half-century the castle has been home to the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, one of the most significant museums of its kind in the world, according to UNESCO.
The museum, which in 1995 won the prestigious European Museum of the Year award, draws some 30,000 Turkish and foreign tourists annually, said Selcuk.
The museum also features an exhibit of the world&rsquos oldest known shipwreck, discovered in 1982 at Uluburun, in the nearby Mediterranean region of Antalya.
Short History of Bodrum Castle – Turkey
Bodrum is a city on the Bodrum Peninsula, stretching from Turkey’s southwest coast into the Aegean Sea. The city features twin bays with views of Bodrum Castle. This medieval fortress was built partly with stones from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, completed in the 4th century B.C.
Inside Bodrum Castle is the Underwater Archaeology Museum, exhibiting collections of shipwrecks and artifacts from antiquity. Built on the site of the ancient Greek city of Halicarnassus, Bodrum features architectural remains including Myndos Gate, once an entry point into the ancient city, and the restored 4th-century amphitheater, a functioning concert venue with sea views from its hilltop perch.
The castle was completed in the late 15th century, only to be taken over by the Islamic Ottoman Empire in 1523. The chapel was converted to a mosque, and a minaret was added. The castle remained under the empire for almost 400 years. After remaining empty following World War I, in the early 1960s, the castle became the home for the award-winning Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology
Recent Restoration at the Castle
In 2017, the Turkish government decided to start a restoration project at the Bodrum Castle. However, the decision was made without consulting the local authorities, scientists and any other related parties. It was just an out-of-the-blue decision.
Since the government rejected to make the project accessible, The Chamber of Architects has brought it to trial. At first, the local court has made its conclusion in favour of the chamber, but a higher court cancelled the sentence and the construction work has begun in 2017.
Restoration at the Bodrum Castle
The castle was fully covered with huge canvases. All we could see was the large trucks carrying building materials. No one knew what was happening there.
In May 2019, a small part of the castle has started to accept visitors. I was curious and went there on the first day. The changes were huge and for me: not in a good direction.
The plan was supposed to finish all work by May 2020, but at the time of writing this piece, which is July 2020, the work still continues.
I have not seen the castle for 6 months now. However, I keep reading news about how the spirit and the originality of the castle has been lost compared to old times. Archaeologists and tourist guides seem to meet at this conclusion.
In 2-3 months, I will be in Bodrum again. After visiting the castle, I will share an update.
What are the best restaurants in Bodrum?
As you might expect from a place that has become so renowned amongst tourists, there are umpteen restaurants that make the cut. For the purposes of simplicity we have just listed a few, but in truth you won’t have any problems whatsoever in finding a suitable eating establishment regardless of your preferences.
We’ll start with one of the most sophisticated restaurants in the region. The setting of Kocadon is purely tranquil and is based around banana plants and palm trees. Based in a beautiful stone building, it’s ideal for anyone who is seeking either international or Turkish cuisine. If you’re in the market for romance, this is the perfect suggestion. It can be found on Bodrum Marina.
This restaurant has gained a superb reputation based on its fresh fish. It has countless varieties to choose from and the staff are renowned as being some of the most helpful around. Its prices are average for the area, while it can be found on the beach promenade.
Based on the Yashi seafront, this is one of the top picks for Turkish cuisine. It means that it prides itself on the likes of seafood, pasta, pizza and various steaks.
If you’re in the market for meatballs (or kofte as the locals like to refer to it as) Marina Koftecisi should be one of your top priorities. As well as the splendid cuisine, it’s worth mentioning that this is one of the cheapest establishments around. It can be found on the Bodrum Marina.
About The Museum
The unofficial origin of the Bodrum Castle dates back to 1959 but it wasn’t officially open or available to the public until 1961. Mr. Haluk Elbe was the very first Director of the museum and the first funding to the museum was only $50 USD from the Turkish Government. The funds were needed to help repair all the damage done to the castle walls and to make the rooms safe for viewers to walk in and visit.
It was in 1959 that the very first artifacts were collected from the ocean floor from divers and put on exhibit. The Knights’ Hall was the first place to receive these artifacts and was opened up first, which also opened up access to the esteemed Carian Princess Exhibit. One of the main gimmicks of the museum through is the amphorae that are scattered throughout the grounds.
The divers have recovered thousands of these reserved amphorae which were once originally used to transport goods. Some of the main divers for the exhibit were Peter Throckmorton, Mustafa Kapkin and Honor Frost. They were doing diving expeditions in 1958 to find ancient artifacts for the museum. Some people see the Bodrum Castle as a romantic getaway or a nice place to visit with your significant other but the castle has a lot of history along with some horrific dark past times.
Restoration efforts were started by Mr. Haluk Elbe who spear-headed the effort to get the castle up to code and operational. Another director however named Mr. Oguz Alpozen was responsible for making the museum come to life under a “living museum” concept that he invented. This concept has attracted hundreds of thousands of tourists yearly since the inception.
The current director of the Bodrum Museum is Mr. Yasar Yildiz. There were over fifty museums all over the world that entered to be the European Museum of the Year Award in 1995. There were forty-five museums that were eligible to be entered into the contest for the final found where only twelve went on to pass. The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology was under representation of Turkey and in the final selection process for the best Museum of Europe in 1995 was awarded as one of the twelve finalists and was given a certification called the “Certificate of Special Commendation 1995”.
Bodrum Castle Phone: (+90-252) 316 10 95
TURKISH CULTURE & TOURISM OFFICE - 212 687 21 69
The headquarters of the Knights Hospitaller were on the island of Rhodes. In 1402 their fortifications at İzmir fell to the Mongols under Tamerlane.  Threatened by an invasion of the Seljuks they built the castle at Bodrum.  Its location was the site of a fortification during the Doric Greek period. There was also a small Seljuk castle in the 11th century. The same promontory is also the probable site of the palace of Mausolos.  He was the king of Caria.  The construction of the castle began in 1404. It was fully fortified by 1460.  Bodrum came under its final siege in 1522. At the time it was still strong enough to send men to Rhodes.  After Rhodes fell, the castle surrendered. 
The Museum of Underwater Archaeology is housed inside the castle.  One of its displays is one of the world's oldest ships believed to come from the 6th century.  Another is called the glass shipwreck due to the large number of bottles it was carrying. 
Wandering Through 3,000 Years of History at Bodrum Castle
Where to even start with Bodrum Castle? It has the most convoluted, Da Vinci Code-style history.
Today, the castle is a historical museum as well as the Museum of Underwater Archaeology. It sits right in the middle of Bodrum’s harbors with an amazing view of the Aegean Sea that will have even the most seasick ready to join up with pirates.
The castle was built in the 15th century from the stones of the ruined Mausoleum at Halicarnassus – one of the original seven wonders of the world. Which explains where those stones went! The Christian military order, Knights Hospitaller, built the castle along with a couple other fortifications in Rhodes and Kos. They even had the Pope guarantee entry to heaven for all the workers during construction.
Each of the countries involved with the Knights got their own section of the castle. There are German, French and Italian towers. The British tower looks like it was flown straight in from England, complete with big fireplaces, suits of armor and cozy nooks.
Eventually the Knights lost the castle to the Ottoman Empire and it was turned into a Mosque. A Turkish Bath was added later. It was briefly a prison and then the Italian military had it for a hot second. In the 1950’s, it was empty and being used to temporarily store relics found by underwater archeologists.
So, back to the present day – where Texas A&M of all places plays a big role. The current Museum of Underwater Archaeology in the castle gives a vivid look at history from the point of view of shipwrecks found in the Aegean. Many of those displays were created by the Texas A&M department of Nautical Archeology. These clay jars were used for transporting wine, olive oil, tar, beads and milk around the Mediterranean.
The oldest shipwreck they found dates all the way back to the Bronze Age. There’s also an incredible collection of glass from the 3rd century BC.
The museum is does an excellent job of storytelling beyond just descriptions of the artifacts. The have full-scale models of the ships that you can walk through. The value of ancient coins is shown in terms of how many sheep they could buy. Gold beads are sown back on to white silk gowns so you understand the fashions back then.
In addition to being a beautiful place to explore in Bodrum, the castle is also packed with history and a bit of mystique.
Carian Princess exhibit
In the Carian Princess exhibit, you can find a lot of rich history and historical information on Halicarnassus, which was one of the most prominent figures of wealth at the time. This exhibit stands proudly in the once known city as Caria where the Bodrum Museum stands today. It’s impressive that this dynasty was thriving until Alexander the Great toppled their empire. The Hecatomnid dynasty once ruled Caria from 392 BC until Alexander came with his massive army and crushed the dynasty.
Once the Macedonian armies ravished the land, the Hectaomnid dynasty land never fully recovered and eventually fell. The exhibit serves as a memory and a tribute to Ada I, which was a ruler that was once deposed but reinstated once she adopted the conqueror of her land as her very own son. We never said history made sense or that the things people did back then were reasonable.
The date was April 1989, when a construction and digging crew began to unravel a new and mysterious find. There was an ancient buried structure that they came across and what was more fascinating about this find is that it was located next to a very well-known necropolis. This necropolis was located near the city of Halicarnassus which is an ancient city of a lot of historic treasures and history. Once the area was discovered to have history, the Bodrum Museum began to supervise the excavation process.
Once they started digging, they remarkably discovered an un-phased sarcophagus which contained the remains of a human female. There was a burial chamber that was still fully intact as if the chamber had been built recently but perfectly reserved. They immediately determined the deceased woman was someone of wealth due to the amount of jewelry worn and the surroundings of their sarcophagus. It was determined that the remains could’ve been dated back to the Hellenistic Early Roman period. The Bodrum was quite excited at this find because many believe it could belong to the Hecatomnid ruler that watched over ancient Caria.
This was a thrilling find for a number of reasons. Once they found the body, scientists and archaeologists immediately began to start reconstruction of the head to find out what the original person may have looked like. It was spear headed by the Department of Forensic Science at the University of Manchester Medical School. This very school has helped the police with multiple criminal investigations where a situation was presented that a victim was unidentifiable.
Dr. Richard Neave was the head of this re-construction and this wasn’t an easy task. The overall result of this scientific study is now fully on display in the exhibit and it portrays a woman with very distinct facial features. It showed the features of a woman who would not be a stranger to the area and seemed to reconfirm that the woman found was from the area she was found in. The age however was a bit difficult to determine as the scientists came to the conclusion she could’ve been anywhere from 38 to 50 years old with a hard estimate at 44 years old. This estimate was confirmed by Dr. R.W. Stoddard in the Pathology department.
However, the main problem with these scientific investigations is that the facts haven’t been proven yet and there’s no solid evidence that points them into a clear answer. They haven’t been disproven either. However, there’s no doubt in any of the researcher’s minds that the body did belong to someone of significant wealth or someone who was of a noble background. A lot of researchers are pointing to evidence that indicates this person was a Carian Princess and some people may believe she could’ve been Ada I from the Hecatomnid Dynasty.
By the support of the Turkish Ministry of Culture, this exhibit was opened as early as 1993. While it’s not officially proven that this is the body of a Carian Princess, a lot of evidence supports the notion that it was and that’s what this exhibit explores. Historians believe that a Carian Princess spent most of her days in the banquet hall where guests would appear with gifts and jewelry. Only the richest of coins, gold and jewelry would be given to the princess. People believe she was alive nearly 2,400 years ago.
Bodrum Castle Phone: (+90-252) 316 10 95
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