Bodrum's rich history and why tourists are flocking to the Turkish coastal peninsula
On the west coast of Turkey in the Aegean region sits Bodrum. A small city and peninsula close to the Greek Dodecanese islands, and most popularly the island of Kos, a short boat ride away. The city surrounds the eastern point of the Mediterranean Sea and benefits from a Mediterranean climate all year round, however, Bodrum is much more than just a hot and sunny city on the coast.
Bodrum’s recorded history dates to around 500BC, when the city was officially known as Halicarnassus of Caria, an ancient Greek city supposedly founded by Anthes, the son of Poseidon. In honour of the God’s heritage, the residents of the city were known as the Anthedae and even marked Medusa, Poseidon, Athena and tridents into their coins. Halicarnassus was the capital city of Caria and was originally ruled by Artemis I of Caria, a strong naval commander and Queen of Halicarnassus, Kos, Nisyros and Kalymnos. It was also the birthplace and residence of infamous ancient historian and writer known as the Father of History, Herodotus.
Halicarnassus was later ruled by Mausolus and his wife Artemisia II of Caria who, when Mausolus died in 353BC, worked with ancient Greek architects to build a monument and tomb on behalf of her husband. This structure became the root for the word Mausoleum and was known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The city was unfortunately later sieged by Alexander the Great and his ally Queen Ada of Caria in 334BC who continued to rule for many years.
In Halicarnassus’ later history, the Knights Hospitaller who resided on the island of Rhodes nearby decided to build a fortified stronghold in the city in 1402 and used the ruins of the Mausoleum of Mausolus to do so. This was later known as the Castle of St. Peter, Bodrum’s famous castle that sees hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to it every year. The city’s name was then changed from Halicarnassus to Petronium in honour of St. Peter and the knights, which is where the present-day modern city’s name of Bodrum is derived from.
After fighting against the Ottoman Empire for most of the Knight’s residence, the Castle fell to the Empire in 1522 where it was later turned into a prison for a short time. The Castle is the only example of late crusader architecture in the East Mediterranean and stands proudly on Bodrum’s coast, now housing the Museum of Underwater Archaeology which recently became a World Heritage Site in Turkey. Today Bodrum is rich with tourist interest and holds many festivals and even a biennial every year, such as the Bodrum International Ballet Festival, Bodrum International Biennial, and the Baroque Music Festival. The International Ballet Festival is held in the Theatre at Halicarnassus, also known as Bodrum’s antique theatre, dating back to Mausolus’ reign and later enlarged in 2nd Century AD under Roman rule. The hot and sunny summers and the warm and mild winters attract many tourists every year to Turkey, which saw a 13.7% increase in tourists in 2019, equating to 51.9 million visitors in last year alone. The Mediterranean climate, fantastic views and rich history attract many a tourist to Bodrum every year, alongside the famed festivals taking place inside the city, turning a small coastal city into one of Turkey’s most popular vacation hotspots according to TripAdvisor. The high footfall of the city and temporary stays of the tourists make Bodrum’s peninsula a great place to begin investing, whether it features as a second home or a buy-to-let investment. The Turkish Lira is currently at it’s all-time lowest, meaning conversion rates to the pound are a fantastic opportunity to save yourself money whilst investing.