Historic Bodrum, with its castle and predominantly white, traditional buildings clustered across the hillsides that form much of the town behind the magnificent harbour, and the Bodrum peninsula with its wealth of bays and coves, especially on its quiet southern coast on the Gulf of Gökova, has long been one of western Turkey’s favourite destinations, especially for the “jet-set.”
Bodrum’s rise to fame is largely due to one man, the Oxford history graduate, Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı. In 1925 Cevat Şakir was exiled to Bodrum Castle for three years for writing an article judged as critical by the courts. At this time, Bodrum was no more than a tiny fishing village with a reputation for sponge-diving. But far from being a punishment, Cevat Şakir was enchanted by his surroundings and after his release made Bodrum is home for the next 25 years. As the “Fisherman of Halicarnassos” Cevat Şakir remains one of Turkey’s most revered writers on subjects as diverse as history, humanism and ecology. Often described as “Turkey’s first professional tour guide,” Cevat Şakir introduced Bodrum to the world. He is also remembered with great affection and respect for creating the iconic Mavi Yolcukuk, Blue Voyage, in which he sailed with his friends on his yacht Yatağan. In celebration of the Fisherman of Halicarnassos, Bodrum has placed a sculpture of him opposite the castle.
The town of Bodrum is home to several important historic and archaeological sites, as it was once the ancient city of Halicarnassos, built around it protected natural harbour. Indeed, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassos or Tomb of Mausolos, of which little remains, was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology is a great place to visit for those interested in the historical wealth of this ancient region.
Bodrum is also famous for its elegant wooden gulets, a craft that has continued uninterrupted for many decades. The master-craftsmen work out of ship-yards that are mostly to the east of Bodrum town in the district of Içmeler. The most famous Bodrum boats are the tirhandil and gulet. Both wooden in construction, the tirhandil with its single mast and pointed stern is the Turkish version of the boat that has sailed the Aegean for millennia and the boat of choice for Bodrum’s fishermen and sponge divers. The traditional gulet, on the other hand, has rounded sterns, while the ketch, a more modern variation, has a square stern, that usually accommodates a spectacular master suite with windows rather than portholes.
Bodrum has many restaurants, bars and cafés suitable for all tastes and budgets and evenings spent exploring the pedestrianised shopping streets of the old town is a must. Throughout the summer months, Bodrum town has a busy cultural calendar, with concerts—many of which take place in the ancient amphitheatre overlooking the town—as well as exhibitions and a variety of other events.
Bodrum is a great harbour for embarking on your gulet, motor yacht or sailing yacht for your blue cruise, if you choose to sail in the Gulf of Gokova or an itinerary combining the Greek Islands and Turkish Coast.
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