The History of Bodrum

History of Bodrum

Alicarnassos, the city of the Leleg and Kar peoples who are thought to be among the first inhabitants of Anatolia and who fought against the Greeks in the Trojan war, is the Bodrum of today. Although the Kar considered the mainland of Anatolia their homeland, it is thought that they were a seafaring people who migrated here from Greece.
The father of history Herodotus, a native of Bodrum, estimated that the history of his birthplace dated to the first millenium BC. However, findings at the Peynir Çiçeği cave point to civilization on the peninsula as far back as 5,000 years ago.
There are signs that the Lelegs and Kars lived in the area together. However, after the occupation of Anatolia by the Persians, a Carian (of the Kar) city was founded in the region of Caria, but kept under Persian control.  The Carian people are mentioned in many historical documents as one of the seagoing races and in 480 B.C. Artemisia I, a famous Carian ruler, fought at sea with the Persians against the Greeks, becoming the first female admiral in the world. The historian Herodotus tells the story of this female hero, his compatriot, at length. The Carians, who had proved themselves many times at sea, gained new importance when the satrap Maussolus moved their capital from Milas to Bodrum in 367 B.C. The most brilliant period of Alikarnassos was under the rule of Maussolus and his sister and wife Artemisia II. The Mausoleum built during this period is today considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. This memorial tomb is not the only legacy of Maussolus's reign. The city was developed in a manner fitting to the seat of government, and the theatre still in use today is one example of this.  After the death of Maussolus, the Carians won a new victory under their new female leader, conquering the island of Rhodes in 353 B.C.

As in ancient Egypt, brother and sister married each other.  Like Artemisia II and Maussolus, Queen Ada also married her brother Idrius. She ascended the throne after the death of Idrius, but there was dissent in the family about this and she was banished to Alinda.  She stayed there until Alexander the Great's forces arrived, and only returned to Alicarnassus under the famous commander's protection.

The peninsula put up great resistance to Alexander's army and did not regain its former power following  the occupation, becoming smaller and having frequent changes in rule.  During one period, it was recorded as having been a bishopric connected to Aphrodisias. After Roman and Byzantine rule, it came under the Ottomans in the 11th century.

Rhodes became an important stop for the Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem, and at the beginning of the 15th century they got permission from the Ottoman Empire to build a castle in Bodrum harbour.  The Knights of St. John of Rhodes spent about one hundred years building the Castle of St. Peter (Petrum), known today as Bodrum Castle.  Stones from the Mausoleum, which had been partly ruined by earthquakes and the passage of time, were used in the building of the castle, and some of the marble was melted down to make lime.

The castle was used as a prison during the late Ottoman period, and was bombed by the French in World War I.  From the 1970s, due to the writer and thinker known as the 'Fisherman of Halicarnus', Bodrum became well-known once more and today is one of Turkey's major holiday resorts.
In one of the most important books recording the Ottoman Navy, "Kitab-i Bahriye", the Ottoman Admiral, Piri Reis, identifies the Castle with the town of Bodrum during his visit in 1521:
"... The town of Bodrum is a small castle, in front of which is a nice big harbour. A godly place where people (infidels) have piled up huge stones to protect it from the northern winds... leaving an opening as an entrance for the ships to shelter."
First built at the beginning of the 15th century by the Knights of St. John whose  earlier stronghold in Izmir was destroyed by Timurlane, warrior monks of Catholic origin named their new location St. Petrus and the area Petronium.
Situated on the cliffs called Zephyria in ancient times, the Castle comprises of a three-fold enclosure with the English, French, Italian, and Spanish (Snake) Towers,   while the German Tower was home to a Gothic chapel.
Built using the rare stones of the Mausoleum which had been taken by the knights, one can see the original reliefs on the tower walls.
Later in 1525, Suleyman the Magnificient turned the chapel into a mosque. The outer walls of this medieval castle were built by the German architect Heinrich Schlegelholt between 1415-1437.
The Italian Tower, which was built by Angelo Mascettola, and the English Tower were added in 1480. The last classical restoration took place between 1476-1508.
There are a total of 265 Coats of Arms, with lion and dragon figures on which the colours have mostly faded, but they retain their mystery.
The middle emblem on the interior of the main entrance door belongs to Jacques Gatineau, the Commander at that time; under this emblem the eagle figure with a crown  is thought to belong to another commander between 1517-18,  Cornelius Harmsbrook.
Monsignor Wallahim Berges used the same symbol; another coat of arms is thought to belong to a knight named Jacques Aylmer de la Chevalerie.
The third gate is the best preserved among the seven gates to the Castle. The Coat of Arms on the fourth gate opens to the vaulted stairs, and celebrates another Commander (1510-12) Antoni de San Marti.
If you follow the western moat lined with trees instead of ascending the stairs, you will see the altars and sarcophagae. At the sixth gate you will read the script in Latin saying, "Protect us our Lord while we sleep, save us while we are awake. Without your protection no one can save us."
As you proceed to the inner castle through the undecorated vault, you will find yourself in a cistern. Some of the fourteen cisterns which provided water during sieges are still in use.
Around 1895, Abdulhamit II had the Turkish Baths constructed. The castle became a prison for both captives and exiles during the Ottoman period.
The fourth tower known as the Snake Tower was re-opened, housing an exhibition hall displaying the cult of the snake, a particular phenomenon of antiquity, which represented the symbol of life and death and is also the symbol of the God of Health, Aeschlepios.
To the east of the Snake Tower, you can visit the German Tower to see a section from the daily life of the knights- the embrasures in the parapet between the two towers were restored together with the repairing of the front walls (1480-1522).
To the east of the German Tower, fourteen skeletons with heavy iron chains shackled to their ankles found in the medieval rubbish heap of the Knights of St. John are displayed quite realistically.
There are more of the horror scenes a little bit further on, where there are two unnamed towers with the chimneys and embrasures blocked.
Descend 23 steps in the tower and you will see the torture room (actively used between 1513-22) with an inscription on the door saying "Inde deus Abest" (A place where God does not exist).
The French Tower, which stands about 50 meters above sea evel, dominates the whole town with its rich history.
On May 26, 1915 the castle was bombed by the French battleship "Dublex" to be restored once again in 7 963.
You will now need a break to enjoy refreshments within the Castle  and perhaps choose souvenirs while enjoying the shade of century old bay and myrtle trees and a variety of animals from ostriches to peacocks wandering amongst the oleanders. Pigeons gather around you for food.
Afterwards, it is time to start a new journey through the Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

'Mausoleum' means 'the memorial tomb of Maussolus and it was built for the Carian governor of that name and completed in 340 B.C. Maussolus made Bodrum the capital and cultural center of Caria and, with the dream of resting after his death in a place that rivalled the city in its glory, began building his tomb while still in good health. Unfortunately, he died before it was finished, and so never saw the tomb which his sister wife Artemsia II completed after his death. The Mausoleum is not only remarkable for its massive and spectacular structure, but even more so for the fact that, despite a change in conditions for the artists on the project, they didn't abandon it. Although it was completed amid financial hardship, they created an immortal work, the finished tomb standing 55 metres high with four floors.
 The tomb and the foundation of the building were on the lowest floor. Above these was a pedestal base supporting the rest of the structure. On this base was another pedestal built to resemble a temple surrounded by columns. Above this was a pyramid with twenty-four steps, and at the very top there was a statue of Maussolus and Artemisia II  in a chariot pulled by four horses. The architect was Pytheos and the artwork on the building was done by famous sculptors of the time: Scopas, Leochares, Bryaxis and Timotheos.
 The tomb is known to have been whole until the earthquake of 1304, but over time it fell into disrepair and deteriorated. The Knights of St John of Rhodes wrote how they used the stones of the tomb in the building of St Peter's Castle. Heinrich Schlegelholt, one of the knights, says 'We tore it down, broke it and burned it!'
 Pieces uncovered during archeological excavations by the British in the 19th century have been diplayed in the British Museum since then. Although the site of this monumental tomb, considered one of the seven wonders of the world, is now a museum; only the remains of the foundation and a few friezes can be seen.
 The name 'Mausoleum' is used today in Latin based languages as the word 'mausoleum', meaning 'monumental tomb'.

Whereas Bodrum’s distant history is full of pirates and tyrants, its recent history is more about fishing and sponge-diving.  Now, it’s equally famous for its traditional boats, whose traditional shapes have been handed down for thousands of years.  The Ottoman shipyard was founded in 1775 in order to construct new ships for the Ottoman fleet.  We know that the first ship was launched in 1784 and the walls of the shipyard were fortified in 1882, together with its tower, which had been erected as a protection against attacks by pirates.
Nowadays, the building houses an art gallery and, from time to time, cultural events and entertainment.

On the slopes of Göktepe Hill overlooking the harbour lies the amphitheatre.  Constructed during the Mausolus period in the 4th century BC, it is renowned as one of Anatolia’s oldest.  Capable of seating approximately 10,000 spectators, its original width was 110 metres.  As in its heyday, the amphitheatre is now once again the focal point for entertainment and cultural events

This entrance gate to Halicarnassus is thought to have been constructed in 360 BC.  When Alexander the Great came to storm the city, he was unable to pass the deep, broad trench in front of the gate.  When the gate was restored a couple of years ago, archaeologists found the remainders of the trench and found its measurements to be exactly as contemporary texts had reported.  Next to the gate there is a Turkish cemetery and some vaulted tombs from Hellenistic and Roman periods.

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