Since it was built by the Rhodes Knights, also known as the Knight of St John, the castle has served as a military base, public baths and even a prison. If the castle walls could talk, the tales they would tell would be the stuff of romance and legend. The castle’s first designation as a haven for Asia Minor’s Christians during the 15th century crusades saw its inhabitants successfully fending off Sultan Mehmed II’s troops - and a few years later sheltering the sultan’s son after a failed revolt.
The castle was constantly fortified as warfare technology became more sophisticated. However, the knights failed to effectively protect the sea-facing fortifications and in the 16th century the castle fell to 200,000 Ottoman soldiers attacking from the Bay of Marmaris and the castle was handed over to the victors.
Today’s incarnation as the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology is the most positive as far as visitors are concerned as it means we’re all afforded a look inside.
Built up from ruins after the 1962 government decision to convert the structure to a museum, the attraction has gone from strength to strength along with Turkey’s tourism and the surge of interest in Bodrum property.
Inside you’ll see the oldest shipwreck in the world, the mummy of Ada and the Mausoleum of King Mausolos, built in the fourth century BC. Or you can just get lost amongst the exhibits, wandering through the atmospheric corridors and up and down the castle towers. Getting lost here is actually a real possibility - the knights who built the castle followed the fortress fashion of the day, with twisty, turny tunnels designed to confuse intruders.
As well as coins, jewellery, pottery and pieces of ancient shipwrecks, there’s also a lovely garden containing an extensive collection of Mediterranean plants and trees. It’s the perfect place to stop and take a breather in between exhibits. If you make the effort to climb to the top of the castle you’ll be rewarded with amazing views over the town and the marina.
The 20L ticket allows you entry to every part of the museum. If you’re visiting on a hot day take lots of water - there are lots of steps to climb. You’ll also need good shoes and a moderate level of fitness if you want to explore the whole building.
Bodrum Castle is inarguably one of Bodrum’s most striking structures. A home to pirates, crusaders and soldiers, it sits comfortably in its historical seat alongside some of the most impressive Bodrum property on the coastline.
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