History of Bodrum

The history of Bodrum, known as Halicarnassus or Halicarnassos goes back to the 13th century BC. Excavaties reveal the 5000 year old history of this town. Many civilisations found their home here. Carians for excample, Homer tells in his Ilia, that the Carians helped to defend Troya.

Heredotus, known as the father of history, was born in Bodrum in 484 BC.- and he said that Bodrum had been founded by the Dorians. The next settlers were Carians and Lelegians. In the 6’th. century BC., the region came under Persian rule. Its most brilliant period was around 353. BC. when it was the capital of the Satrap of Caria (In this century it was famous for its trade, sailing and boatbuilding.) Artemisia who was a warrior-woman played a significant role in the protection of the Asian Union and she achieved fame by adopting astance against Rhodes as the Admiral of the Carian fleet in 480 BC.

Mausolus ruled Caria from here, nominally on behalf of the Persians and independent in practical terms for much of his reign between 377 to 353 BC. When he died in 353 BC, Artemisia II of Caria, who was both his sister and his widow, employed the ancient Greek architects Satyros and Pythis, and the four sculptors Bryaxis, Scopas, Leochares and Timotheus to build a monument, as well as a tomb, for him. The word “mausoleum” derives from the structure of this tomb. It was a temple-like structure decorated with reliefs and statuary on a massive base. It stood for 1700 years and was finally destroyed by earthquakes.Today only the foundations and a few pieces of sculpture remain.

Alexander the Great laid siege to the city after his arrival in Carian lands and, together with his ally, the queen Ada of Caria, captured it after heavy fighting.

Crusader Knights arrived in 1402 and used the remains of the Mauseoleum as a quarry to build the still impressively standing Bodrum Castle (Castle of Saint Peter), which is also particular in being one of the last examples of Crusader architecture in the East.

The Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes were given the permission to build it by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed I, after Tamerlane had destroyed their previous fortress located in Izmir’s inner bay. The castle and its town became known as Petronium, whence the modern name Bodrum derives.

In 1522, Suleyman the Magnificent conquered the base of the Crusader knights on the island of Rhodes, who then withdrew to Malta, leaving the Castle of Saint Peter and Bodrum to the Ottoman Empire.

The most prominent feature of Bodrum is the castle of St. Peter.
The castle’s origins date back to the knights of St. John
This group of expatriates began in the 11th century with a church and hospital in Jerusalem. Although belonging to he Catholic religion care was denied to no-one.
When the knights arrived they instructed their builders to remove all usable materials from the tomb of King Mausolos as the castle construction began in the 1400’s.

The knights refered to the town as Mesy not knowing that they where in the ancient Halicarnassus
The fortress became known as the Castle of St. Peter, the Liberator, it served as the sole place of refugee
for all Christians on the West Coast of Asia during the time of the crusades. For over a century the castle served as a stronghold in the knights community.
Under Turkish care the castle has undergone several uses including being a military base, a prison and a public bath.

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