Bodrum Castle and Museum of Underwater Archeology

Bodrum Castle and Museum of Underwater Archeology


Bodrum Castle and Museum of Underwater Archeology is the top tourist attraction in Bodrum. We generally do not like the cliches, but if the topic is about Bodrum, we will start with this famous poem.

“When you reach the top of the hill, you will see Bodrum

Don’t assume you will leave as you come

The others before you were the same

As they departed, they all left their souls in Bodrum”

Starting this post with this poem is just a sign to let you know how good Bodrum is and you will remember this vacation, for sure. This poem belongs to Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli- in other words, the famous fisherman of Halicarnassus (or Halikarnassos). A few years back there were discussions that Tuncay Ozsert owns this poem, but we will not go into this debate. Rather, we will share our experience about Bodrum Castle and the Museum of Underwater Archeology. By the way, regardless of who owns this poem, it is still meaningful and explains Bodrum pretty well. One more story about the fisherman in this post, be careful and catch it thru this post.

As this is the 2nd time we have visited Bodrum, we fell in love again. Around ten years ago, we had a vacation at Gumbet and this year we preferred to stay at Turkbuku and Akyarlar. You might have noticed from the Ayvalik and Cunda post, we like Northern Aegean a lot, but the Southern side is also good (maybe better) and probably allows people more days to swim. And, one thing is sure, every single point around Bodrum is just fantastic. And, we are aware that beaches and other good locations worth visiting definitely require another intensive post.

Need to know

Let’s get back to business and talk about the castle and the museum. It is a good pleasure that you can combine a good vacation with full of history. Please note that visiting the castle and the museum is a “must-do” activity in Bodrum. So, don’t miss this opportunity and include it in your plan.

And, we will also cover the history of Halicarnassus which will be a good guide for you since it has a deep connection with the castle. It is so intensive, but you know Anatolia was/is the home of many different ancients, civilizations, and empires.

Bodrum History

Halikarnassos (Halicarnassus, old name of Bodrum) has a long and intensive history as expected.

Before the invasion by the Dorians, it is believed that Lelegs and Carians had lived around these regions. And, it was a member of Doric Hexapolis and Artemisia I of Caria who ruled the region at the beginning of the 5th century BC who is an important figure in history because of being naval commander at the battle of Salamis. And then, Persians captured the town and they were basically having a mechanism as assigning Satraps to the Caria.

The glorious period of Halicarnassus started with Mausolus. He moved the capital of satrapy from Mylasa (today site of Milas) to Halicarnassus. And then the town had been changed drastically. Artemisia II of Caria was his sister and widow at the same time and she also ruled the satrapy. In this period (~4 BC), Mausoleum was built which is one of the 7th wonders in the Ancient World.

The city was captured by Alexander the Great in 334 BC after a challenging siege and Alexander set Ada of Caria to rule the town. [1]

Up to Roman Period until ~130 BC, there were changes and the kingdom of Pergamon had control over the Caria region. Unfortunately, there were several severe earthquakes that collapsed the Mausoleum.

In the 13th century, the Menteshe Dynasty had control over this region.

After the knights arrived in the town in 1402 after Tamerlane destroyed their fortress in Izmir, they constructed the Bodrum Castle (the Castle of St Peter who was head of the Jesus’ disciples) which was permitted by the Ottoman Sultan [2]. And then, the Ottoman Empire totally conquered the castle in 1522. Italians had control after 1st World War 1 but Turkey took the town back after the Turkish War of Independence.

Side notes

Just a side note, do you also know that the Father of History- Herodotus was from Halicarnassus? His efforts make us understand history better today. If you don’t know him, we are sure that you know his well-known quote “In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.”

Another note is that Bodrum was not a famous place in the recent past. Somehow, people explored this beauty and it is currently very crowded. You know, the nature around Bodrum was very good, hope humanity will not destroy it.

Bodrum Castle and Underwater of Museum Archeology

High level history

Bodrum Castle (also known as the Castle of St. Peter) is on a rocky peninsula and was built by the Knights of St. John (also called the Knights of Rhodes) [3] at the beginning of the 15th century. The knights of St. John were from different countries, thus they constructed their towers (English tower (the lion tower), French tower (the embroidery tower), Italian tower (the relief tower), German tower (the strong tower), Spanish tower (the Snake tower)) differently. And, it was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in1522 during the siege of Rhodes by Suleyman the Magnificent. During the Ottoman period, it was used as a garrison and turned out to be a prison in 1895. During World War I, French warships bombed the castle and it was heavily damaged. Italians invaded Bodrum and used the castle, but Turkey got the castle back during the Turkish War of Independence.

After 1960, it was converted to an underwater museum. This is a unique one and only underwater museum in Turkey. In 2019, the castle and the museum were renovated.

Where is Bodrum castle?

Bodrum Castle and the Museum of Underwater Archeology are in the center and close to Bodrum port. You can see the location below.

It may be basic info, but the museum is directly in the castle. We are stating this because one of the tourists during our visit asked this question and she was looking for a closed and separate museum around the castle and was misled by the maps. So, don’t look for a specific museum around the castle.

Bodrum Castle and Museum Underwater Archeology – What is inside?

There are different baileys in the castle and have different concepts. And, some of the pieces on the walls were brought from the Mausoleum. So, please keep your head up and check the walls. You will see them, for sure.

When you first enter the castle, you will see the naval cannons used in the 18th-19th centuries in the Ottoman Empire. And then, you will observe Gateway Tower moving thru the 1st Bailey. There is a good spot to capture some photos right the cannons.

As side info, there were also cisterns in the castle. Let’s explore and take a look at the details.


The old structure was built by the Knights of St. John and Spanish Knights constructed as a chapel. And after the conquest by the Ottoman Empire, they added a minaret. You know conversion was a generic thing and we have so many examples like the Hagia Sophia Mosque.

During the excavation processes, a few tombs have been observed on the northern side. When you enter the chapel/mosque, just look at the ground.

Just close to the mosque, you will also see a Turkish bath that you can take a look at.

Chapel in Bodrum Castle
Bodrum Castle chapel/mosque

Shipwrecks around Bodrum Castle

It is still thought that there are many shipwrecks around Bodrum and Antalya. Especially, after finding Yassiada shipwrecks and Uluburun shipwreck (one of the oldest wrecks that were found), people understood the importance of the underwater. More info is below.

Yassiada shipwrecks

Before starting this section, we’d like to talk briefly about George Bass who is a well-known figure and also named as the father of underwater archeology. He is from the US and he spent many years around Bodrum. He was leading all these efforts and probably the one who opened a new perspective in the archeology world. It was sad that he passed away in 2021.

Yassiada is just opposite of Turgutreis/Bodrum. Around the island, the underwater rocky structure caused the shipwrecks. A sponge diver from Bodrum noticed the wrecks end of the 50s and informed and then a team was gathered at the beginning of the 60s. Investigations revealed that the ruins/wrecks date back to Byzantine and the Eastern Roman Empire from the 4th and 7th centuries. [4,5]

It is also surprising that a Lebanese vessel has also wrecked in the 90s in recent history. Moreover, there are more wrecks in this region.

You can see coins/amphoras in this room and smell the history.

Bozburun Amphorae

In the 1990s, Bozburun shipwreck has been discovered and it was revealed that it was a Byzantine one and from the 9th century. Around 1000 amphorae were found and it is also found out that the ship was carrying wine.

Bozburun shipwreck in Bodrum Castle
Bozburun amphorae in Bodrum Castle, the Museum of Underwater Archeology

Serce Limani glass wreck

This area is our favorite and the reason is finding thousands of glass shards and efforts to make them single glassware again regardless of having coins, amphoras, fishing equipment, this Byzantine ship was carrying glass and small ceramic cargoes.

Another sponge diver found out the wreck and the wreck has been investigated at the end of the 70s.

Please focus on the glassware more in this section which is absolutely fantastic.

Glass wreck in Bodrum Castle
Serce Limani shipwreck

German tower

The tower has a semi-circular plan and has a single story. Currently, ruins from Bozukkale Archaic Wreck are shown here. This is a relatively new study compared to previous ones.

As we understand, it looks like the research is still ongoing. The figures and statues found in this area date back to AC 7th century. Amazing, isn’t it?

Moreover, many statues are being shown just right to the tower.


There are so many altars presented in this area. The cylindrical altars date back to the Hellenistic period and were mainly used in family cemeteries and decorated with bulls heads. Of course, there is a reason for using these altars. So, there was a ritual during the visit by family members and the altars were the place of sacrificing animals, placing fruits and pieces of bread or thurify, and praying around the altar.

Altars in Bodrum Castle

French tower

Also called Musgebi (now Ortakent) Necropolis and shown in the French Tower. Ortakent is on the northwest of Bodrum. The Mycenaean was a powerful civilization and ruled a big area around the Greek island. You may remember this civilization from the Trojan War. In Musgebi, a number of Mycenaean tombs were found which also means that Bodrum has a pretty complex history and probably has more things still waiting to be explored.

The Princess of Caria

While searching for information about this special room, some references state that this princess is Ada, but it looks like there is no strong evidence. So, it was called only “ The princess of Caria”. All these artifacts were found during construction. If you construct something in Bodrum, it is highly likely to find artifacts.

The tomb itself has been found recently. Due to skeleton, it is thought that this lady was a member of a healthy and wealthy family. And it is thought that she had birthed. After getting the skeleton, a detailed study is conducted after multiple iterations and you can see the state of art over there.

In this room, you will like the jewelry a lot. It is hard to believe that people designed these valuable and interesting pieces two millenniums ago, isn’t it?

Princess of Caria

A cool story about Mausoleum

To be honest, we were surprised when we heard this story first time about the letter of the fisherman of Halikarnassos. He wrote a letter to the queen of the UK requesting the pieces back in Bodrum which were brought to Britain by Charles Newton. He was simply saying that these pieces would shine again with Bodrum’s blue (as a color) And, this request was delivered to the responsible person of the British Museum. It was replied back by saying it was true that these pieces would be more glorious with blue, so we painted the room of monuments with Bodrum’s blue. If you want to take a look at the marble statues, you can check via this link. We really like statues of II. Artemisa and Mausollos [6].

The beauty of Bodrum view from the castle

Bodrum Castle and Museum of Underwater Archeology- Details

Bodrum Castle- How much time

The castle and museum are too big. We would recommend you to consider at least three hours. Especially in the summertime, the weather is generally too hot which means that you will not be too fast and there are ups and downs in the castle. So, don’t be in a rush during your visit.

Bodrum Castle- Opening times

As of 2021 August,

Summer period: 9 am. to 10 pm. Please be aware that you can buy tickets just 30 minutes before the closure. But 30 minutes will not be enough to explore the castle and the museum.

Winter period: 8:30 am. to 6 pm. Please be aware that you can buy tickets just an hour before the closure. Again, 1 hour is not enough to explore the castle and the museum.

Please verify the timing. There may be changes year to year.

Bodrum Castle- Entrance Fee

We were about to decide not to add entrance fee sections since it is being changed frequently but as of 2021 August, the ticket price is 90 TL. You may know that there are different museum passes you can use in Turkey. You can not use Museum Pass Istanbul and you should have Museum Pass Turkey or Aegean.

Best time to visit

Spring and autumn seasons are the best choices for Istanbul (check out the best time to visit Istanbul post if you want more info). However, we think that summer is the best season for Bodrum since you are probably looking for a good summer spot. It is a bit challenging to visit the castle especially in a hot environment, we would recommend you to go there in the morning or evening times.

Comments after restoration

We really enjoyed the time we spent in the castle and the museum. However, there are still discussions ongoing about how successful the restoration is. Since the underwater museum has been changed a lot, it looks like people enjoyed the old version more.

It also looks like there may be changes in the future if there is a decision to build a different archeology museum.


It is always fun to spend time in Bodrum. Everybody likes the trio, sea, beach, and sun combination, and it is great to experience this trio during the summertime. Bodrum is one of our favorite vacation spots in Turkey.

However, it is also good to explore what this district has experienced. It has a huge history and there is a place showing all this information regarding Bodrum. The castle itself is fantastic and the museum of underwater is a unique one.

As we mentioned, this is a must-do activity in Bodrum, so don’t miss this chance.


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