Contrary to popular belief believe, Bodrum is much more than just a nice tourist spot with vibrant bazars and a great nightlife. Once upon a time, Bodrum was known as Halicarnassus Halicarnassos- one of the six members in the Dorian Confederation of Hexapolis, along with Knidos and the islands Kos and Rhodes, birthplace of Herodotus – also known as the ‘Father of History’, not even to mention the rich history of the antiquity.

What really put Bodrum, or Halicarnassous, on the map of forthe ancient visitors was King Mausolus, who ruled here from 377 BC. At that time, the region had fallen under Persian rule and as their ‘satrap, King Mausolus turned Bodrum into the commercial and administrative center of his undisputed realm. He built the first Mausoleum (for himself and his wife), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and he built an Amphitheatre, which is today one of the oldest in Anatolia. King Mausolus is said believed to have passed away in 354 BC and so he missed one of the most famous first visitors to Bodrum, Alexander the Great, who reached Halicarnassus in 334 BC. Of course, Alexander did not come as a tourist looking to enjoy the local hospitality and the turquoise waters. Instead, he sacked Halicarnassus along with other parts of the Persian ruled cities.

Historic accounts state that much of the city was destroyed but that order had been given to keep bloodshed to a minimum. Yet even today remnants of that time can still be visited in Bodrum:

• Visit the Mausoleum, built between 350 and 368 BC, even though only remnants of the once 20 storey-high structure are left.

• Other than the Mausoleum, the antique theatre, built to accommodate 13,000 spectators, is largely intact and is today used for music and theatre performances during the summer months. Nestled into the hills behind Bodrum, it allows a view of Bodrum harbour and the island of Kos – a wonderful backdrop to any performance.

Fast forward to the time around 1404 AD, the Knights of St John selected Bodrum as a stronghold against the advancing Ottoman Sultanate. Building on the remnants of a fortification stemming from the Doric times (1110 BC), the construction of the Castle, later named the Castle of St Peter, was completed in the late 15th century, only to be taken over by the Ottoman Empire in 1523.

The castle is in the center of Bodrum harbour and it is impossible to miss it. Really, it should not be missed and deserves a visit. Beautifully restored, the castle houses the award-winning Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology and in the moat, holds the stage for cultural events, such as the annual Bodrum International Ballet Festival.

Bodrum did not spend the time between Alexander the Great’s visit and the construction of the stronghold of the Knights of St John in total obscurity, even though it lost much of its fame. It is known that Bodrum came under the control of Ptolemy II of Egypt in the 3rd century BC, who had many of his warships built here.

And this brings us to another interesting strand of history that has left its traces and is part of Bodrum’s fame today – the Blue Cruise on one of the famous Gulets – along Turkeys spectacular southwest coast. The early history of this sailing boat remains largely unknown, apart from the fact that building these boats in Turkey is a tradition unique to Bodrum. Built and used mainly for fishing and sponge diving in the last century, it is thanks to Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, a Cretan Turk, writer of novels, short-stories, and essays, as well as being a keen ethnographer and travelogue, who started to accompany the fishermen of Bodrum on their tours along the coast, that the Blue Cruise was born.

Today you can select one of the more than 5,000 crewed sailing boats, ranging from 15-50 meters in length, to have the most relaxing holidays possible. This is the closest you can get to enjoying a bit of luxury and fantastic service right in the middle of nature.

So, is Bodrum worth a visit? Immersed in ancient history with evidence in plain sight, with traditions turned into modern-day joys, with cultural events to experience, and all that in addition to great hotels, restaurants, and bazars, you would feel hard pressed finding a good reason NOT to visit Bodrum. As a matter of fact, you will probably need several visits to start grasping the full Bodrum experience.

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