The Best Of Bodrum
A photo of the Bodrum Castle taken from the sea.

Bodrum Castle

Most stories about Bodrum typically begin with the spectacular view of the Bodrum Castle. No matter if one uses water, air, or land transportation to get there, the castle will be the first thing to catch one’s attention upon approaching the town.

As well as being the most famous and impressive structure in the area, the Bodrum Castle, or the Castle of St. Peter, also contains one of the largest museums of its kind within its walls: the Museum of Underwater Archaeology.


Address
Carsi Mahallesi, 48400 Bodrum-Mugla
Phone
+90 (252) 316 25 16
Working Hours
Summer (April – October): Everyday between 08:30-22:00
Winter (November-March): Everyday between 08:30-17:00
Official Website


The castle and the museum are the same place. The courtyards and buildings in the castle are also used as exhibition areas. You do not need to purchase separate passes to visit the museum or the castle.

The Location of the Bodrum Castle

Bodrum town extends across two bays in an east-west direction.

The western bay is where people have been living for thousands of years since the Dorians, and locals colloquially refer to this part as the Turkish neighbourhood. The eastern part, on the other hand, is known as the Greek neighbourhood, referring to the relocation of Cretan people of Turkish origin in 1923. During the population exchange, the newcomers settled in this area to avoid potential conflicts with the local population.

Photo of the western bay of Bodrum from the castle walls.
Turkish neighbourhood, the west of the Zephyrion peninsula.

A small peninsula, known as Zephyrion in ancient times, separates the Turkish and Greek neighbourhoods, thus the east and the west bays. This is where the Bodrum Castle has been watching over the town for more than 600 years.

Built with History Pieces

The Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes built three castles in the southeast Aegean, in Rhodes, Kos, and Smyrna. The Mongol conqueror Timur attacked and destroyed the castle in ancient Smyrna, today’s Izmir, resulting in a decrease in the level of control the knights had over the territory.

After losing the Smyrna Castle, the knights started searching for a better location to build a new castle on the coast of Anatolia, which was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. They consulted with the reigning sultan, Mehmet I, and received his blessing to build a new stronghold in Bodrum.

The construction began in 1402, on top of a smaller castle built by the Anatolian Beylik of Menteshe at an earlier time. It took almost a century to complete the castle, marking a new era in the history of Bodrum Castle.

The English Tower and the east bastion of the Bodrum Castle.
The English Tower made up various stones found in the area.

What fascinates me most about the castle is that the German architect Heinrich Schlegelholt found a unusual source for gathering building materials to complete the castle. His source was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, which had already sustained heavy damage due to various invasions and earthquakes in the past 1,800 years.

Today, looking carefully at the walls of the Bodrum Castle is enough to notice the pieces from one of the wonders of the ancient times. More interestingly, the pieces from one of the most significant buildings in history were also carried to Malta to complete the construction of the Grand Harbour.

The Layout

The Order of the Knights Hospitaller had different divisions called tongues. Each tongue built its own tower and marked them with their own coat of arms. Thus, there are five towers garnishing the medieval scene; the French Tower is the tallest one, measuring 47.50 metres in height. The English Tower, the Italian Tower, the German Tower, and the Spanish Tower, or the Serpentine Tower, are the other towers in the castle.

The French Tower from the upper courtyard.
The French Tower at the upper courtyard of the Bodrum Castle.

The floor area of the castle is almost square, measuring 185 by 180 metres, and it can roughly be divided into three main sections: the lower section, the upper section, and the entrance/exit section. All the towers are in the upper section, while service buildings such as the bath and the chapel are in the lower part.

I have also prepared a layout for the Bodrum Castle for you; you can check it by clicking here.

Bodrum Castle and The Museum of Underwater Archaeology

The Museum of Underwater Archaeology and Bodrum Castle are two terms that refer to the same location. This can be confusing, especially for foreign visitors.

The castle itself is the museum and they share the same entrance. Once you have your pass, you can enjoy the medieval architecture of the castle and the incredible artifacts in the exhibition halls.

A small café in the Bodrum Castle.
One of the museum cafés is at the lower courtyard.

Spending time in the castle is an essential part of my Bodrum routine. I like to grab a coffee from one of the castle’s coffee shops and read my book in a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere. I’m sure you would enjoy it too!

However, multiple entrances to the Bodrum Castle and the museum could be costly if you purchase a ticket each time. The key is to get a Museum Pass issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. With a Museum Pass, you can visit the castle and almost all historical sites and museums in Turkiye as many times as you want. For more information, check the official website of the Museum Pass and see which option would be best for your trip.

An Arboretum Within the Walls

All the original castle buildings, including towers and the chapel, serve as exhibition halls. Additionally, there are a few modern buildings for displaying more delicate collections which require certain environmental conditions for better preservation.

The courtyards are open-air exhibition areas where hundreds of pieces such as column headings, cannons, anchors, and sarcophagi from local archaeological excavations are exhibited.

Six peacocks wandering around the lower courtyard of the castle.
Wandering peacocks in the castle.

Moreover, there is more to see as you stroll around the Bodrum Castle.

What makes the castle so beautiful is that it is also a small arboretum where peacocks, turtles, and various bird species wander around. For flora enthusiasts, this is a good place to check indigenous plants and trees from daphne to oleander, as well as other species from different parts of the Aegean region.

Whether you like history or not, I believe that you would not regret taking the time to visit the Bodrum Castle and the Museum of Underwater Archaeology.


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The Best of Bodrum

Hi there!

My name is Akinsal, and I created The Best of Bodrum, a travel blog to help you to get most out of your time in Bodrum and the Aegean Region.

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