Bodrum is the site of the ancient city of Halikarnassus, the location of the famous Mausoleum of Halikarnassus (built after 353 BCE) – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately, the ancient monument was destroyed by earthquakes in the Middle Ages – some of the remnants can be seen in London’s British Museum.
Bodrum is a fascinating place as it has a pleasing contrast between the Ancient city – where there are discernable fragments everywhere in the town -and a playground for rich Turks and an array of foreign visitors. It is one of the centres of the Turkish Tourist industry and is the market town for the Bodrum Peninsula which consists of a number of towns and villages nestling on the edge of the Coast. Until the 1960’s the town was a fishing village which changed when a number of Turkish intellectuals gathered and wrote about Bodrum. Most notable of the these was Cevat Sekir ‘The Fisherman of Hallikarnassus’, an Oxford Educated Turk who devoted his time to writing and planting numerous plants and trees which continue to dot the landscape of the Town. His book the ‘Blue Voyage’ describing gullet trips around the Turkish coast, and his descriptions of the astoundingly clear Blue Seas of the Aegean and the delights of a trip around the coasts adjacent to Bodrum inspired a whole generation who have come to emulate his trips. Bodrum has therefore grown as a sailing destination and thanks to its warm but not humid climate has become a top destination for visitors who enjoy the combination of the ancient past together with all the usual tourist paraphernalia. There are large numbers of shops and restaurants – from humble cafes to exquisite Turkish cuisine served by an array of waiting staff.
Modern Bodrum strangely seems to have two contrasting sides to it.
The east half of the town has a long thin but reasonable beach, which has been added in the last few years, with the authorities trying and largely succeeding in creating a good beach. Behind the beach lay all the bars, restaurants, and night clubs that are typical of Mediterranean resort towns. This means open fronted bars that do not come alive until 10PM when everybody goes out. As well as some nice beach fronted bars (e.g. cafe del mar being a reasonably chilled out and attractive bar, with attractive staff so that helps) it also has some terrible ones, if you do not like the hard drinking culture of some tourists. It does have some reasonable clubs. Halikarnas being the obvious one as it is huge (4000 people). It also is mostly outdoors and hosts foam parties on regular occasions.
The other half of the town is the west side. This mainly revolves around the Marina and Yacht Club. Here life is a little more sedate with shops catering mainly to those who have stepped off their boats. Expensive supermarkets with proper wine and olive oil as well as the obligatory Helley Hanson to be able to purchase your new jacket. There are a number of nice restaurants if you look hard enough and some good clothes shops. Like all resorts being directly on the sea front increases the prices. During the evenings there is a wonderful atmosphere as the locals and tourists all seem to promenade along the sea front.
There are many cultural events – notably the Ballet Festival in August, a wide range of pop concerts at the Castle or in the Amphitheatre which has been restored in the last few years, having been built some 2,000 years ago.