For a town that has a history of a mere 3,500 years or so, it is always a  wonderful discovery in Bodrum when a revelation of part of that history comes to light and is made accessible to the public.

It is only now possible, after 25 years of intermittent planning, clearing, rescue excavations and restoration, to walk an easy 2 km alongside the line of the original city walls of ancient Halicarnassus, which were built around 370 BCE.

King Mausolus, the long-haired ruler of Caria which stretched from present day Lake Bafa to Dalyan, was a satrap or liege to the faraway Kings of Persia, but he had great city building ambitions inspired by the symmetry and lines of Hellenistic design. First, he moved his capital from present-day Milas, ancient Mylasa, to around the natural harbour of Halicarnassus then ordered nearly all his subjects around the Peninsula to move into the city.

Around that city he built the 7km of 2-3m thick defensive walls with small hilltop forts and the impressive double courtyard entrance gates, the now partially restored Myndos Gate and the lost Mylasa Gate.  Mausolus’ successors found that even those mighty walls could not ward off the besieging army of Alexander the Great, and once the breakthrough came at Myndos Gate in 334BCE, the city was razed.

In 1862, Charles Newton on one of his discovery campaigns amongst the ruins of past empires, excavated the site of the Mausoleum, the King and Queen’s tomb monument, and investigated the other city remnants in such detail that the map he drew remains a reference tool for archaeologists. He detailed the line of the city walls where they began with a small fortress on top of the  hill above Bardakci Bay and followed the ridge line across the top to a corner where a long defensive ‘spike’ was extended  for a 300 degree view of the fortifications. The walls then dropped down to Myndos Gate, then rose up Goktepe hilltop, then down again to Mylasa Gate. The lines and some glimpses of a huge block of stone of the wall have been visible for years beneath hedgerows and trees, and in the last 50 years formally protected from building development within 10m.

Fast forward to the late 20th century, when the foreign residents of Bodrum Habitat International and the Bodrum Municipality held a couple of clean-up days of the painful amount of fly-tipped rubbish around the remnants of the Myndos Gate.  Soon after, in 1998, Turkcell Ericsson became the sponsors of an ambitious formal excavation and restoration campaign of the Halicarnassus walls and the Ancient Theatre. The work started around the Myndos Gate, revealing a marvellous foundation and plan of the Gate and adjacent wall, the moat and even human skeletons in it discovered by the Danish archaeological team led by Dr. Poul Pederson, 1998-2000.  The Ancient Theatre was also excavated and restored to near its former glory and reopened in 1999 to concerts.

Since November 2020, another rescue clearing and excavation of the walls has opened up to public sight the superb construction and foundations of the walls from the Bardakci end to the Myndos Gate, under the supervision of the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology in cooperation with the Bodrum Municipality and initiated by the Akdeniz Ülkeleri Akademisi Vakfı (Foundation) with their sponsors Denizbank, Nef Group and later the Akfen Group, with Prof. Dr. Adnan Diler as consultant.

Approximately 2 km of the 7 km walls have been unearthed so far in a very swift operation, and the Bodrum Municipality has completed walkways alongside to make it accessible to visitors and tourists from Spring 2022.

In the cool of the morning or late afternoon, the walk gives remarkable views between Bodrum and Gumbet Bays, so make sure you include it on your adventures. To find it, catch the Bardakci dolmus to the Bardakci Taxi rank and follow the path!

Chris Drum Berkaya

Editor- The Bodrum Echo newsletter

Photos- Bodrum Municipality

Map- Sir Charles Newton


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