Bodrum (Turkish pronunciation: [ˈbodɾum]) is a district and a port city in Muğla Province, in the southwestern Aegean Region of Turkey. It is located on the southern coast of Bodrum Peninsula, at a point that checks the entry into the Gulf of Gökova, and is also the center of the eponymous district. The city was called Halicarnassus of Caria (Ancient Greek: Ἁλικαρνᾱσσός) in ancient times and was famous for housing the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Built by the Knights Hospitaller in the 15th century,

Bodrum Castle overlooks the harbour and the marina. The castle includes a museum of underwater archaeology and hosts several cultural festivals throughout the year. The city had a population of 35,795 in 2012.

It takes 50 minutes via boat to reach Kos from Bodrum, with services running multiple times a day by at least three operators.


In classical antiquity Bodrum was known as Halicarnassus (Ancient Greek: Ἁλικαρνασσός, Turkish: Halikarnas), a major city in ancient Caria. The suffix -ᾱσσός (-assos) of Greek Ἁλικαρνᾱσσός is indicative of a substrate toponym, meaning that an original non-Greek name influenced or established the place’s name.

It has been proposed that -καρνᾱσσός (-carnassos) part is cognate with Luwian word “ha+ra/i-na-sà”, which means fortress. If so, the city’s ancient name was probably borrowed from Carian, a Luwic language spoken alongside Greek in Western Anatolia. The Carian name for Halicarnassus has been tentatively identified with (alos k̂arnos) in inscriptions.

The modern name Bodrum derives from the town’s medieval name Petronium, which has its roots in the Hospitaller Castle of St. Peter (see history).


Halicarnassus (Ancient Greek: Ἁλικαρνᾱσσός, romanized: Halikarnassós or Ἀλικαρνασσός Alikarnassós; Turkish: Halikarnas) was an ancient Greek city at the site of modern Bodrum in Turkey. Halicarnassus was founded by Dorian Greeks, and the figures on its coins, such as the head of Medusa, Athena or Poseidon, or the trident, support the statement that the mother cities were Troezen and Argos.

The inhabitants appear to have accepted Anthes, a son of Poseidon, as their legendary founder, as mentioned by Strabo, and were proud of the title of Antheadae.

The Carian name for Halicarnassus has been tentatively identified with Alosδkarnosδ in inscriptions.

Theatre of Halicarnassus in Bodrum, with the Bodrum Castle seen in the background.

At an early period Halicarnassus was a member of the Doric Hexapolis, which included Kos, Cnidus, Lindos, Kameiros and Ialysus; but it was expelled from the league when one of its citizens, Agasicles, took home the prize tripod which he had won in the Triopian games, instead of dedicating it according to custom to the Triopian Apollo.

In the early 5th century Halicarnassus was under the sway of Artemisia I of Caria (also known as Artemesia of Halicarnassus, who made herself famous as a naval commander at the battle of Salamis.

Of Pisindalis, her son and successor, little is known; but Lygdamis, the tyrant of Halicarnussus, who next attained power, is notorious for having put to death the poet Panyasis and causing Herodotus, possibly the best known Halicarnassian, to leave his native city (c. 457 BC).

The city later fell under Persian rule. Under the Persians, it was the capital city of the satrapy of Caria, the region that had since long constituted its hinterland and of which it was the principal port. Its strategic location ensured that the city enjoyed considerable autonomy. Archaeological evidence from the period such as the recently discovered Salmakis (Kaplankalesi) Inscription, now in Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, attest to the particular pride its inhabitants had developed.

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 fighting in 334 BCE.


Surviving substructures and ruins of the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Mausolus ruled Caria from here, nominally on behalf of the Persians and independently in practical terms, for much of his reign from 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.

Surviving substructures and ruins of the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

It was a temple-like structure decorated with reliefs and statuary on a massive base. Today only the foundations and a few pieces of sculpture remain. Later After Alexander’s death, however, rule of the city passed to Antigonus I (311 BCE), Lysimachus (after 301 BCE) and the Ptolemies (281–197 BCE) and was briefly an independent kingdom until 129 BCE when it came under Roman rule.

A series of earthquakes destroyed much of the city as well as the great Mausoleum while repeated pirate attacks from the Mediterranean wreaked further havoc on the area. By the time of the early Christian Byzantine era, when Halicarnassus was an important Bishopric, there was little left of the shining city of Mausollos.

In 1404 AD the Christian Knights of St. John used the ruins of the Mausoleum to build their castle in Bodrum (which still exists today and where one may still see the stones which once were part of a Wonder of the ancient world)

Replica model of Mausoleum of Mausolus in Miniatürk, Istanbul
Replica model of Mausoleum of Mausolus in Miniatürk, Istanbul


Crusader Knights arrived in 1402 and used the remains of the Mausoleum as a quarry to build the still impressively standing Bodrum Castle (Castle of Saint Peter), which is a well-preserved example of late Crusader architecture in the east Mediterranean. The Knights Hospitaller (Knights of St. John) were given permission to build it by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed I, after Tamerlane had destroyed their previous fortress located in İzmir’s inner bay. The castle and its town became known as Petronium, whence the modern name Bodrum derives.

Bodrum Castle coat of arms.
Bodrum Castle coat of arms.

In 1522, Suleiman the Magnificent conquered the base of the Crusader knights on the island of Rhodes, who then relocated first briefly to Sicily and later permanently to Malta, leaving the Castle of Saint Peter and Bodrum to the Ottoman Empire.

20th century

Bodrum was a quiet town of fishermen and sponge divers until the early 20th century. In June 1915, during World War I, 18 Greek Christian inhabitants and one girl aged 16 were slaughtered by Turks. In her book Bodrum, Fatma Mansur points out that the presence of a large community of bilingual Cretan Turks, coupled with the conditions of free trade and access with the islands of the Southern Dodecanese until 1935, made the town less provincial.

The fact that traditional agriculture was not a very rewarding activity in the rather dry peninsula also prevented the formation of a class of large landowners. Bodrum has no notable history of political or religious extremism either. A first nucleus of intellectuals started to form after the 1950s around the writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, who had first come here in exile two decades before and was charmed by the town to the point of adopting the pen name Halikarnas Balıkçısı (‘The Fisherman of Halicarnassus’)

Geography Climate

Bodrum has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa in the Köppen climate classification). Winter average is around 15 °C (59 °F) and in the summer 34 °C (93 °F), with very sunny spells. Summers are hot and mostly sunny and winters are mild and humid.

Main sights

The Castle of St. Peter, also known as Bodrum Castle, is one of the major attractions on the peninsula. The castle was built by the Knights Hospitaller during the 15th century and the walls of the fortification contains some pieces of the Mausoleum ruins, as it was used as a source for construction materials. The Castle of Bodrum retains its original design and character of the Knights’ period and reflects Gothic architecture. It also contains the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, a museum opened by the Turkish government in 1962 for the underwater discoveries of ancient shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea.

The Castle of St. Peter was built by the Knights Hospitaller.
The Castle of St. Peter was built by the Knights Hospitaller.

In 2016 the castle was inscribed in the Tentative list of World Heritage Sites in Turkey.
The castle is currently under renovation since 2017 and only some parts of it are accessible for touristic purposes.

Built in the fourth century BC, the ruins of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus are also one of the main sights in Bodrum. It was a tomb designed by Greek architects and built for Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire, and his sister-wife Artemisia II of Caria.[22] The structure was once defined as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World,[23] but by the 12th century CE had mostly been destroyed.

Today the ruins of the tomb continue to attract both domestic and international tourists.[27] It is planned to turn the ruins into an open-air museum.

Apart from the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, there are also other museums located on the peninsula. The Zeki Müren Art Museum is a museum dedicated to Turkish classical musician Zeki Müren. After his death, the house in which the artist lived in Bodrum during the last years of his life was transformed into the Zeki Müren Art Museum by the order of the Ministry of Culture and was opened to the public on 8 June 2000.

The Bodrum Maritime Museum is another museum of Bodrum that aims to conduct activities regarding the classification, exhibition, restoration, conservation, storage and safekeeping of the historical documents, works and objects that are important for the maritime history of the city.

The Bodrum City Museum is a minor museum in the city center that presents the general history of the Bodrum peninsula.


The population of the town center of Bodrum was 35,795 in the 2012 census. The surrounding towns and villages had an additional population of 100,522, with a cumulative total of 136,317 inhabitants residing within the district’s borders.


The district of Bodrum is one of 957 in Turkey. It is in Muğla Province which is part of the Aydin Subregion, which, in turn, is part of the Aegean Region. Bodrum has become a sub-district in 1871 and a district of Muğla Province in 1872. Bodrum Municipality serves with its 18 directorates and subsidiary units in the entire of Bodrum Peninsula which has an area of 689 km2 and a coastline of 215 km length. The organizational structure of Bodrum Municipality is composed of the Mayor, 4 Deputy Mayors and 18 Directorates.[50]

Bodrum Municipality has served as the sole district municipality in Bodrum region for many years. Afterwards, with the significant increase in the population of peninsula, a town municipality has been founded with the name of Karatoprak (Turgutreis) in 1967. In conjunction with increased settlements to the towns and villages of Bodrum, Mumcular (1972), Yalıkavak (1989) and Gündoğan Municipalities (1992) were established.

Following the new municipality law introduced in 1999, many villages in Bodrum turned into towns in the same year. Ortakent-Yahşi with the integration of Ortakent and Yahşi villages, Göltürkbükü with the integration of Gölköy and Türkbükü, Yalı with the integration of Yalı and Kızılağaç villages were established. In the same year Gümüşlük , Konacık and Bitez Municipalities were founded, making the number of the municipalities across Bodrum Peninsula .

After Muğla Province received Metropolitan Municipality status, these town municipalities were closed and all towns across the province were integrated into Bodrum city. From 30 March 2014 the peninsula started to be governed as a sole municipality.


During the 20th century the city’s economy was mainly based on fishing and sponge diving. Even though naked sponge diving’s past can be traced back at least three thousand years in the Aegean region, modern sponge diving started to be prevalent in Bodrum after the Koan and Cretan immigrants settled in the city in the early 20s, after the population exchange between Greece and Turkey.

During its golden age between 1945 and 1965, there were close to 150 boats engaged in sponge diving activities in Bodrum. However, sponge diseases, artificial sponge production and a ban on sponge diving eventually ended this lucrative industry in Bodrum.

Over the years, tourism became one of the major activities and main income source of local communities in Bodrum.[52] The abundance of visitors has also enlivened Bodrum’s retail and service industry. Leather goods, particularly for traditional woven sandals are well known products in the town. Other traditional goods such as tangerine flavored Turkish delight, Nazar amulets and handicrafts are also main souvenirs that are sold in the city.

Apart from small shopping facilities the city hosts some larger shopping centers like Midtown and Oasis. There are also Yacht and small ship accommodation oriented marinas such as Milta Bodrum Marina, D-Marin Turgutreis, and award-winning Yalıkavak Marina.

The Carian Trail also passes by Bodrum and the surrounding Kızılağaç and Pedasa ruins, attracting hikers both from inside and outside of Turkey



Traditional Bodrum houses are characterized by their prismatic shapes, simple designs and locally sourced building materials like stone, wood, clay and cane. They also tend to have white dominated exterior walls with some blue parts (doors, windows). Apart from the historic tradition, the reason for a white exterior is associated with the bug and scorpion repellent properties of lime, which is found in white paint. Blue is also believed to protect against bad luck by locals (similar to Nazar).

According to Muğla Municipality, in order to acquire a building permit one has to agree to paint the walls of the new building white. Use of any paint other than white on the exterior walls of a building was officially banned by Muğla Governor Temel Koçaklar in 2006.[59] This was implemented to protect the historical fabric and cultural identity of the city.

Events and festivals

Bodrum International Ballet Festival has been held in Bodrum every summer since 2002. Bodrum has also hosted the Bodrum International Biennial since 2014. Bodrum Baroque Music Festival is another, annual, music event held in the city.



There are no civilian airports located in the district’s borders and Milas–Bodrum Airport and Kos Island International Airport are the main airports that serve the city. Milas–Bodrum Airport is located 36 kilometres northeast of Bodrum, with both domestic and international flights.

Kos Island International Airport, 70 kilometres to the SW, located in Andimachia, Greece, accessible by boats from Bodrum across a 20 kilometres (12 mi) stretch of the Aegean Sea. Aside from year-round flights to Greek destinations, Kos airport’s traffic is seasonal.

Built in 1987, Bodrum-Imsik Airport once served the city before its closure to commercial flights in the late 90’s. Due to financial and legal problems caused by a landownership dispute, the airport was sold to Presidency of Defense Industries in 1997. It is currently being operated as an air base.


The main bus station is located in the city center and accommodates intercity bus services to other locations in Turkey. There are around 47 different bus companies using the main station, with routes mainly to major cities like İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir.

Most of the public transportation in the city is based on local shared taxis called “dolmuş”. Each of these privately owned minibuses displays their particular route on signboards behind the windscreens.

The word derives from the Turkish for “full” or “stuffed”, as these shared taxis depart from the terminal only when a sufficient number of passengers have boarded. Apart from these minibuses Muğla Municipality also has a scheduled bus service program between towns on the Bodrum peninsula. Public transportation between major towns such as Gümbet, Bitez, Turgutreis and the main bus station is non-stop.


The port has ferries to other nearby Turkish and Greek ports and islands. Bodrum has three large marinas and cruise berths. The first marina, Milta, is located in the center of Bodrum. The second marina is located in Turgutreis, and the third, Palmarina, in Yalikavak.


Maquis shrubland biome, which is the typical vegetation of the Mediterranean climate, is widespread in Bodrum, especially near the coast. Forests cover 61.3% of the district. Conifers such as pines, larches, stone pines, cedars and junipers are the dominant trees in the region. Forested areas are prone to fires and wildfires are common in the district’s history. 95% of forest fires in Turkey are believed to be caused by human activities and there are concerns that forests are deliberately being set on fire to enlarge the city.

The ruling party AKP has been criticized in the media for giving building permits to construct new hotels on burnt and deforested areas.

Wild boars and foxes are prevalent in the area, as are other animals such as pygmy cormorants, Dalmatian pelicans and lesser kestrels. The region is also home to the endangered and internationally protected Mediterranean monk seal.

See also

Milas-Bodrum Airport
Kos Airport
Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology (within Bodrum Castle)
Blue Cruise
Marinas in Turkey
Foreign purchases of real estate in Turkey
Turkish Riviera
Gümüşlük, a neighborhood north of Bodrum