Herodotus wouldn’t recognise Bodrum as his birthplace Halicarnassus, but I’m sure he’d send you off to the 8 Lelegian towns around the Bodrum peninsula, to savour what life was like in the 5th century BC. Make an easy start by visiting Pedasa above Konacik, a well signposted road now leads almost all the way to the site, or head out to Yalıçiftlik and take a left turn to Alazeytin to walk around the ruined fort of Syangela. If feeling exceptionally fit, carry on over the mountain towards Etrim and walk up to Theangela. Which ever site you choose, you will be transported back to times when Persians ruled the land and pirates dominated the seas and the only safe places to live were on top of steep hills where you could see the enemy approach your thick defensive walls.
Picture 1 View from Syangela.
Mausolus would insist that you stayed in the centre of Bodrum. He had no truck with the outlying towns and in the 4th century BC insisted the residents move to Halicarnassus, his new Carian capital city. His wife/sister made sure that Mausolus would never be forgotten by building such a magnificent burial chamber for him that his Mausoleum became one of the Seven Wonders of the World and gave us a new word. Visit the site on Turgutreis Caddesi, and decide whether you want to sign the petition to bring the marble friezes and statue of Mausolus back to his home town from the British Museum.
Alexander the Great spent a lot of time staring at the walls of Halicarnassus as he laid siege to the city in 334/3 BC You too can follow the intermittent line of the walls which interweave with modern streets and carry on up the hillside overlooking the modern town. Eventually, like Alexander you will find the Myndos gate on the west side of Bodrum. This well restored monument was the scene of Alexander’s successful breaching of the city’s defences and the remains of the ancient moat are still visible. Alexander won’t have such good memories of Myndos; he tried to invade the town but the locals fought him off. The present day residents of modern Gümüşlük are much more friendly and as the most unspoilt village on the peninsula, it is worth a visit. Those on a limited budget may want to check the prices before choosing a seafront restaurant, as the stunning views don’t come cheap.
The Myndos Gate
Jumping the centuries, when The Knights of St John started building in the early 15th century AD, they made sure that their legacy would define modern Bodrum to this day. As you crest the hill on the main road from the airport, their magnificent Castle on the seafront draws the eye both day and night. No visit to Bodrum should ever be considered without spending a day in the museum in the castle. Reconstructions of ancient wrecks, beautiful gold and glass jewellery and the tomb of the Carian Princess are the highlights and the achievements of both land-based and underwater archaeologists are awe-inspiring.
Neyzen Tevfik, born in Bodrum in 1879, musician and poet and most famous master of the Turkish woodwind – the ney, would certainly direct visitors to the varied cultural entertainments in Bodrum. Art lovers can visit a multitude of painting and ceramic exhibitions in galleries in Oasis Shopping Mall, the Castle, the Ottoman tower and many more venues spread over the peninsula. This summer, the Gümüşlük Classical Music Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary and yacht marinas have ambitious music programs. Try and catch a ballet in the atmospheric theatre next to the castle. I’m sure Neyzen’s spirit was in the audience watching Carlos Acosta dance in Bodrum.
The Fisherman of Halicarnassus was exiled to Bodrum as a punishment but fell in love with the village and returned to live. As a respected author, he popularized the place amongst intellectuals and was responsible for the awakening of this small fishing village. He’d have you chartering a locally built wooden yacht , gulet, along the coast to experience the clear turquoise waters and sheltered bays of the now famous Blue Voyage. As a lover of nature, he would also encourage a Spring visit to experience the exquisite scent of the citrus gardens and the multi coloured glory of the March anemones.
The turquoise waters of the Blue Cruise
Walk up the hill from the Halikarnas Disco and you will find yourself on Zeki Muren Street. This larger than life singer, composer and actor was much loved in Bodrum. His flamboyant dress, bouffant hair style and in later years, heavy make up, paved the way for the more relaxed attitudes enjoyed in Bodrum compared to other Turkish resorts. Visit his house on his own street, now turned into a museum, spend a few evenings on Bodrum’s bar street with a rose on your table as Zeki used to have and pay a visit to Bardakçı Bay by small day-trip boat, in homage to Zeki Bey’s favourite destination.
And finally, stand between the Tepecik Mosque and the Bodrum Marina with your back to the castle and stare at the massive white house which stands tastefully proud in front of you. Here Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic records entertained the likes of Princess Margaret , Mick Jagger and Rudolf Nureyev. Ahmet bey would have you rent one of the many large villas on the peninsula, invite all your friends and enjoy Bodrum’s distinctive air, that once tasted, is never forgotten and …party
A big thank you to all you lovely readers for adding your comments to the competition page. You must have swayed the judges in my favour.
The results were posted today and I'm the runner-up. It was after noon so I don't think it's an April Fool's joke. I've never entered a writing contest before so I'm extremely pleased with this result and the prize; a $200 Amazon voucher.
If you'd like to enter the next Expats Blog competition, they are offering a $100 prize for the best ex-pat related idea for the next contest. Let's all give it a go.
Congratulations to Joanna Munro for her wonderfully well written winning entry.