Bodrum, the Aegean pearl – World Meanderings (n°19)
Bodrum, the Aegean pearl – Wrld Meanderings (n°19)
By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
For 30 years now Bodrum is getting more and more popular with tourists from all over Europe and even with American ones who find there the Mediterranean leisure way of life they’re looking for. Often called the Turkish “Saint Tropez”, Bodrum works hard to fulfil anyone’s expectations.
Bodrum was already famous in ancient times for being the place where one of the “Seven Wonders of the World”, the Mausoleum was. It was built in the middle of the 4th century BC for one of its Satraps called Mausolus who ruled the region on behalf of the Persians a time when the city was called Halicarnassus. Unfortunately through the centuries it didn’t resist wars, neglect or earthquakes and there is not much left of it today. But there are plenty of other reasons to visit Bodrum.
Located at the point of Bodrum Peninsula along the deep blue Aegean Sea Bodrum is a vast seaside resort where whitewashed houses lazing under the hot summer sun have invaded the low hills surrounding the harbour. For a very long time the port was only for fishermen and sponge divers. But today it’s a beautiful marina where big yachts, smaller sailboats and beautiful two or three-mast schooners wait for their captains.
You can get on board on one of these schooners for a one or two-day cruise or even for a week to discover the Aegean coast, dive into the lapis-lazuli blue sea, enjoy your meals on the deck or barbecue in a hidden creek. Turkish food probably is one of the best you can have. Taste freshly fished seafood and fishes or meze such as houmous, tahine, or piyas made with local vegetable, not to forget the famous oriental pastries.
All these will be perfect with a glass of raki the national anis drink, of fermented milk drink or of one of the delicious Turkish wines. Most ships will also take you to the Incirlik cave where you can have a mud bath. It is said that Cleopatra used this mud to preserve her beauty.
Back in Bodrum’s port go to the close by Bodrum Castle also called Castle of Saint Peter. This fortress was built in the early 15th century by the Knights Hospitalier who used rocks from the Mausoleum’s ruins to complete it. It is a well-preserved fortress with many towers, courtyards, stairways and big vaulted rooms where you can see an impressive amphorae collection and many other artefacts found in wrecks.
Leaving the castle go for a walk through the pedestrian streets surrounding it. It’s obviously a touristic area but still is worth seeing. There are plenty of shops selling all kinds of Turkish items such as leather goods (Bodrum’s sandals are a must-wear), sponges, colourful pottery pieces, jewels, baklavas, Turkish delights…There are also many bars and restaurants on the waterfront where you can have a drink or a meal with seawater around your ankles! At night partygoers from all over the world meet there and Bodrum has earned a well-deserved reputation for a hectic nightlife!
Even if we are not well aware of it, archaeologists will tell you that there are more antic sites in Turkey than in Greece. Most of them have not been excavated and the Turkey authorities are willing to catch up and open more sites to the public. Forty miles away from Bodrum you can go to unjustly little known Labraunda that used to be a Carian sanctuary. Carians were the inhabitants of Bodrum region in the ancient times and Mausolus was one of their kings. They built this huge sanctuary to worship a warrior god name The Carian Zeus.
A lovely country road will take you up a hill through olive groves and pine forests to the site where a huge rock cut in two by Zeus lightning as ancient Carians believed, overlooks well preserved temples, banquet halls, fortifications and tombs. An interesting visit set in a peaceful and bucolic setting.
And you will also meet Dolly, a sheep that is the mascot of the excavation team that is used to follow the visitors all through their tour of the ruins! There are many other one-day trips from Bodrum to discover the area, such as remarkable Ephesus or the amazing salted pools of Pamukkale.
The Voyage Hotel is a 4-star hotel located on the other side of the bay facing Bodrum centre, set in a quiet area of town. A free shuttle boat service can take you to the lively marina and Bodrum Castle in a matter of minutes.
All rooms, large and elegant, have a balcony overlooking the beach and gives you an amazing view over the sea and the fortress St Peter. It’s an all-inclusive hotel with two restaurants serving excellent quality food and a bar to enjoy well-done cocktails and live music. www.voyagehotel.com
More info at www.bodruminfo.org and at www.gototurkey.co.uk
Text © Annick Dournes
Photos © Frederic de Poligny