- Mika Vepsalainen
Bodrum Castle - a Magnificent Mediaeval Castle Protecting the Beautiful Coast of Anatolia
Updated: Apr 19
Join us for a visit to one of the most fascinating museums in the Anatolia Region, the Bodrum Castle and Underwater Museum highlighting the history of the region with the English, French, Germans and the Ottomans.
The Bodrum Castle (also known as the Castle of St. Peter) is located on a small rocky peninsula between two sheltered bays in Bodrum, on the south-west coast of Anatolia. This inhabited peninsula, known in the ancient world as Zephyrion, was used as a base first by the Byzantines in the early Middle Ages and later by the Turks.
Today, the Castle is on the UNESCO temporary World Heritage List together with the medieval City of Rhodes that it was part of. The Castle was built partly from the remains of the Mausoleum of Mausolus (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, see our separate reviews of the mausoleum and the British Museum!). The exterior walls were designed in the early 15th century by the German architect Heinrich Schlegelholt and strengthened by five towers known usually as the English, Italian, German, French and the Snake tower. The French tower is probably the earliest while the others were added during the following century. The final parts of the castle were erected between 1476 and 1593.
In the Ottoman Period, the Castle was a garrison and in 1895 it was transformed into a prison. During WW1, it suffered great damage and was evacuated. In WW2, it became again a military base and today, it is a museum and home to the Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
When you first walk in, you will see ancient sarcographs that will immediately take you back to history and to reliving the ancient times at the castle. Walk the stone stairs up to the inner yards and stop to rest at the small benches at the arrow slits in the walls and imagine how your are discussing with the knights on duty defending the castle against the enemy! Admire the 250 coats of arms around the castle. Many of the knights who defended the castle over the centuries left theirs carved on the walls for us to see who they were - Kilroy was here, right?
When you reach the upper yard, you will see beautiful flowers and can smell the summer heat. The gorgeous mulberry trees will allow you to taste fresh berries exactly like the knights did hundreds of years ago. The garden inside the castle has a collection of almost every plant and tree of the Mediterranean region!
Turquoise and amber peacocks parade under the flowering trees and bushes and invite you to take pictures of today’s life in the historical context. Stop to look at the wonderful statues among the trees in the park and feel the centuries pass by. When you walk into the original chapel of the castle that was later turned into a mosque, you will see historical tombs under a glass floor - a chilling proof of living history under your feet. Do not forget to have a look at the golden treasure from the tomb of a Carian princess, who died between 360 and 325 BC, and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of her jewellery!
From the towers you can see the entire area with brilliant views of the sea, the sun and the shore line of Bodrum with fishing boats and fancy yachts.
There are good loos in the upper yard of the castle and down at the exit gates. These are accessible for all although the museum itself contains numerous stairs and difficult paths making it pretty difficult to pass in a wheel chair or with a pram.
The stroll in the sun can be very hot and it is better to take a hat and a bottle of water with you. Towards the end of the tour, you might wish to sit in the shade of the café next to the museum shop that has some interesting stuff to check.
Bodrum Castle and Museum of Underwater Archaeology
Çarşı, Kale Cd. Bodrum