Bodrum, Turkey’s St Tropez
Known as the ‘St Tropez’ of Turkey, Bodrum on the Aegean coast is an area of astounding natural beauty combining famous landmarks like Bodrum Castle and the Mausoleum of Halikarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. It is one of Turkey’s key tourist centres attracting both wealthy Turks and international tourists. Its position on the Bodrum Peninsula means that it is surrounded by many smaller coastal towns and villages. Bodrum simply buzzes with a thriving entertainment scene, which includes many restaurants, shops, nightlife and a superb yacht marina. However it can still offer those in search of peace and quiet seclusion and tranquility.
Bodrum is an easy destination to reach particularly by air. It is served by the Bodrum-Milas airport 35 km from the centre of town; many charter airlines fly here during the summer season. Dalaman and Izmir airports also sere the area and both are a three hour car ride away. There is a shuttle service operated by Havas between the domestic arrivals area and the town. Once you arrive in downtown Bodrum, there are plenty of taxis, which cost around YTL 100. The best mode of transport within the town has to be the dolmus, a cross between a mini bus and a shared taxi, which follows a set route.
If you fancy travelling by sea, there are regular ferries from the Greek Islands Kos and Rhodes during the summer. Bodrum can also be reached by public transport from Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana, Bursa and Konya although the journey time from Istanbul is 13 hours and 10 hours from Ankara.
A Dip Back in Time
Originally known by the name Halikarnassus, the city was founded by the ancient Dorians, who came from Greece around 1000 BC. After the Dorians came the Carians and Lelegians. By 650 BC the town had been enlarged by the Megarans enlarged the city, but it was then captured by the Persians in 546 BC. In 377 BC Mausolos, the most popular of the Karian kings expanded the city further and made it the capital city in 353 BC. It became renowned as a centre for sailing and ship building. Mausolos encouraged people from other areas to move here and he ordered the construction of new city walls, palaces, theaters and temples.
Alexander the Great captured the city in 334 BC and it later became a naval base for the Egyptian Lagos Dynasty. Rome and Byzantium next ruled the area for centuries until 1522 when Suleyman’s Ottoman army captured the town renaming it Bodrum. The history of Bodrum, known as Halikarnassus 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 example, Homer tells in his Ilia, that the Carians helped to defend Troya.
Up until the 1960's it was no more than a quiet fishing village, but all of that changed when an exiled Turkish writer Cevat Sekir wrote about his experiences exploring the secluded inlets of the peninsula in his book ‘The Blue Voyage.' His work inspired a generation of tourists to venture forth and experience the same and from then on in, Bodrum never looked back..
Bodrum offers a wealth of entertainment both day and night. There are plenty of places to shop, but remember to haggle over the price – this is expected. Bodrum is awash with designer labels both fake and genuine at reasonable prices. In terms of places to eat, you will not go short. The 19th century Kocadon Restaurant near to the marina is Bodrum's most stylish restaurant. It lies in an enclosed courtyard surrounded by palms and banana plants and serves tasty traditional and international cuisine. Urfa Diyar? directly behind the beach promenade offers freshly baked lahmacun and pide at exceptionally good prices. Nearby Berek Balik specializes in fresh fish dishes, whilst Sunger Pizza on the main street in front of the marina is the best pizza restaurant around - it’s so popular that you have to register your name with the waiter when you arrive and wait for it to be called when a table is free. If you want something typically Turkish head for Marina Koftecisi, near Sunger Pizza, it serves the best kofte meatballs in town.
For nightlife check out neighbouring Gumbet; it’s a haven for Brits and Aussies with plenty of bars playing R&B and dance. In Bodrum a must for all clubbers is Halikarnassus, the huge open air night club, which is in fact the largest in the world. Another great dance experience is the Bodrum Marine Club. It is in effect a disco built into a large boat with a glass dance floor. The funkiest thing is that the boat actually sails out to a point in the harbour where lights have been strategically placed into the sea bed. The lights attract the fish who know that there are plenty of scraps of food here if they hang around.
There are numerous hotels and holiday complexes, which are heaving during the summer months. If you prefer something small then the family-run boutique hotel Atami in Paradise Bay is perfect and it does not allow children. The Honeymoon Hotel lies 200 metre from the only beach in the town centre, whilst the Hawthorn Suites offer amazing, panoramic views across the sea and an unmatched style and service.