Bodrum is situated in Turkey’s Aegean coast and has had the reputation of being the most bohemian and liberal places in Turkey.It has been a tourist destination for centuries, as the modern town of Bodrum has been built on the site of Halicarnassus. This is famous because it was home to the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was built on the hill overlooking the harbour by Artemisia, the wife and sister of Mausolus, the governor of that part of the kingdom of Caria. The word Mausoleum comes from the name of the ruler for whom the tomb was built – Mausolus. It was built between 353 and350 BC, but was destroyed by an earthquake in the 13th century. The Knights of Saint John used the stones from the mausoleum to build Bodrum Castle in the 15th century, and this still stands overlooking the harbour in modern Bodrum.
The castle looks impressive when it is illuminated at night, towering above the picturesque harbour. You can still go up to it and wander around the ruins.
From the harbour there are daily boat trips, essentially booze cruises, and you can explore south western Turkey on some of these. However take plenty of sun block! Last year (2012) Turkey suffered from a heat wave and temperatures soared to around 40 degrees Celsius and the humidity was unpleasant. It was fine in the evenings though!
If you are interested in archaeology there is the Museum of Underwater Archaeology which houses artifacts which are from Turkey’s maritime history. It is not, as the name might lead you to suspect an underwater museum. However there are ruins under the sea which you can explore if you can scuba dive.
On Tuesdays there is a market in Bodrum and you can buy cheap spices, fresh produce and souvenirs there. If you can, try to find some crumbly chocolate halwa which is delicious! Turkish cheeses are also good to try, and the olive oil.
One of Bodrum’s speciality dishes is deep-fried, stuffed courgette flowers, and there are also some special sweet pastries unique to the area. For food on the hoof there are doner kebabs, pide and lahmacun (Turkish pizzas) and if you are lucky you might find midye dolma (stuffed mussels)
There are several beaches around Bodrum which are easily accessible by bus. The nightlife is perhaps the best in Turkey after Istanbul, as there is Bar Street, which is about a mile long and which has bars, clubs and eateries all along it. The places close when the last customer leaves, so you can dance until dawn, if that’s what you want to do.
Places to visit around Bodrum are Kusadasi also a lively tourist destination further up the coast and close to Ephesus, the ancient Greek city. Pamukkale (cotton castle) is close too, famous for its thermal hot springs and the spectacular blue pools set in white deposits on a mountain. You have to see it to appreciate its beauty. Milas, where my favourite Turkish carpets are made is close too and worth a visit if you are interested in carpets.
Turkey is still a cheap place to visit with 2 Turkish lira equal to 1 Euro. I love the country and would recommend a holiday there to everyone.