Bodrum’s medieval Castle of St Peter is on every tourist’s “must-see” list. The castle’s courtyards, turrets, galleries, and gardens are magnificent! Its stone walls dominate the Bodrum waterfront from land and sea, and its history is impressive.
“The castle was a monumental symbol of Christian Europe’s unity against Ottoman power.” The Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes began building Bodrum Castle in 1402. Each group from the order had their own tower including – French, German, English, and Italian.
“At one time Bodrum castle’s location was an island known as Zefirya where King Mausolus (377-353 BC) had his palace. The Knights pillaged the stones used to build the castle from the nearby Mausoleum of King Mausolus – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Mausoleum survived for centuries but an earthquake brought it down in medieval times.”
In 1962, Professor George Bass and his Institute of Nautical Archaeology designed the Castle’s Museum of Underwater Archeology. It’s one of the world’s most distinguished underwater archaeology museums.
The Museum has hundreds of remarkable artifacts recovered from shipwrecks on Turkey’s southern shores. The items recovered include “goods from shipwrecks spread over 32 centuries – from the 16th century BC to the 16th century AD. Cargo amphorae, gold jewelry, ships’ tools and equipment, and two of the ships themselves are on display.”
One entire exhibition is devoted to the tomb of a Carian princess. In 1989 archeologists discovered a burial chamber with an intact sarcophagus containing the remains of a human female surrounded by gold jewelry. Experts believe the well-preserved skeleton is Ada, the last Hecatomnid ruler of Caria.
“After Constantinople fell to the armies of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453, the sultan’s armies attacked the castle, but it withstood attacks then and again in 1480. In the 1500s strengthening with more stones from the Mausoleum was insufficient to protect it from the forces of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. In 1522 the castle fell, the knights departed, and the sultan’s standard flew on the English Tower.”
Past history includes the Russian fleet bombarding the castle in 1770. During World War I, the French demolished one side of the English Tower. Also during WWI the Italians rebuilt the Italian Tower and used Bodrum Castle as a military base.