The biggest attraction in Bodrum is the Castle of St. Peter. This huge walled structure that sits at the entrance to the harbor in the center of the city was built in 1404 by the Order of the Knights of St. John. It was the second most important Crusader castle, fortified using bricks from the Mausoleum of Mausolus. The castle was handed over to the Ottomans in 1523 as terms of the Knights’ surrender in Rhodes. It later served as a prison in 1895 and an Italian garrison from the end of World War I until 1921. For several different virtual tours of the castle, click here.
Nowadays, different sections of the castle hold the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology which opened in 1962. This museum highlights finds from shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea. There are several amphorae, pieces of jewelry, and cutaways of replica ships. Admission to the museum and castle is 25TL (as of November 2016). It’s open from 8am to 6:30pm daily except Mondays.
Just outside of the castle’s ticket booth is a bust of Herodotus, the legendary ancient Greek historian born in Halicarnassus in 484 BC. He’s referred to as the “Father of History” for being the first historian to systematically arrange his materials.
As you enter the castle, you’ll notice etchings of prayers and the coat of arms of the Knights Hospitaller above doorways and passages. The etching in the first photo reads “Lord protect us in our sleep, save us when we wake, without your protection nobody can protect us”.
Once inside, you can follow a well-marked path that will allow you to visit the castle in its entirety. Along the way, you’ll find shipwreck objects included as part of the museum.
Inside the lower courtyard of the castle is a structure that was originally a chapel but converted into a mosque called Süleymaniye Camii. The 19th century minaret was destroyed by a French ship firing upon the castle during World War I and was later rebuilt.
There are five main towers that make up the castle and each have their own unique features. Each langue of the Order was responsible for the construction, maintenance, and defense of their own tower. The towers were built in the different styles of their langues.
One of the most famous towers is the English Tower (Lion Tower) which still has the relief of a lion and the coat of arms of Henry IV above the entrance. It’s one of the most important and well-preserved structures built by the English outside of England. Inside the tower, you’ll find graffiti left by Crusaders etched into the walls.
Other towers include the French Tower (Embroidery Tower), the Italian Tower (Relief Tower), the Spanish Tower (Snake Tower), and the German Tower (Strong Tower).
The Commander’s Tower at the top of the castle was rebuilt in 1999 after being destroyed during World War I. It displays the personal effects of İbrahim Nezihi, the last Ottoman commander who lived in the tower.
The dungeon is both the creepiest and cheesiest part of the castle at the same time. Visitors descend down a dark stairwell to be greeted by a ridiculous mannequin.
Other attractions include the latrines and a walk along the walls providing great views of the city and the sea.