Bodrum History Facts and Timeline
(Bodrum, Mugla, Turkey)
The Turkish port city of Bodrum is one of the gems of the country, with a long and colourful heritage that dates back to the Carians and also the Dorian Greeks. Home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum of Mausolus, Bodrum's history is on prominent display, awash with relics and attractions that draw hoards of tourists every year.
The Castle of St. Peter is another great icon of its Crusader era, although today its lovely marina is filled with yachts instead of European Crusader ships.
The first people known to have settled in Bodrum were the Carians. They saw the advantages of its natural harbour and built an impressive city around the port. The Persians also recognised the merits of this harbour and took over, following a brief spell under the Dorian Greeks in the 7th century BC. Some important people called Bodrum home during this early era, including the legendary Greek historian Herodotus and the great Carian ruler Mausolus.
When Alexander the Great arrived in Caria territory, he took a fancy to the port of Bodrum. After a tough fight, he finally captured the city with the surprising help of Queen Ada of Caria. This event took place in the 6th century BC and marked a new era in the history of Bodrum, as the city passed to Persian rule for the next 2,000 years or so.
It was Mausolus who really put Bodrum on the map. He ruled the city on behalf of the Persians for more than two decades, from 377 BC. When he died, his tomb was so impressive that it was named as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. At the time, his mausoleum (the word actually derives from the king himself) was as grand as anything in existence. It stood for 1,700 years until earthquakes got the better of it, and sadly only the foundations and a few crumbled pieces of stonework remain. However, the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology has an excellent collection of early pieces from the city and remnants of its residents.
The next great chapter in the history of Bodrum came shortly after the turn of the 15th century, when the Crusader Knights passed through and captured the city. They used stones from the great Mausoleum of Mausolus to build their new Crusader fortress, Bodrum Castle, also known as the Castle of St. Peter. It still stands on the edge of the Aegean today and is one of the world's best-preserved examples of Crusader architecture in existence. The surrounding town was named Petronium, a forerunner to the city's present name of Bodrum.
The Turks Get Their Turn
When the Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent deposed the Christian Crusaders from the area in the early 1520s, they abandoned the castle and the Ottoman Empire stepped in to take over. This event marked the final chapter in the history of Bodrum, which slipped away into a long sleepy period until the middle of the 20th century, when the Turkish Republic was founded.
During those quiet years, this was little more than a settlement of sponge divers and fishermen. However, after the revolution, the city began to attract intellectuals and artists, such as famed writer Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli. Eventually Bodrum became a popular hideout for the holidaying gay community and today it enjoys a solid tourism sector that keeps the local economy afloat.