The Castle of St. Peter the Liberator of the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Rhodes - to call it by its full and proper name - is a dominant feature of Bodrum's landscape. The fortress came to be known as the Castle of St Peter The Liberator because it was used to house Christian refugees during the Crusades; it was the only place to do so on the west coast of Asia Minor. It is perhaps the town's most popular tourist attraction, having officially become a museum in 1961. Its origins date back to the Knights of St John, when in the 15th century they built the castle on the site of an ancient palace, on what was then a tiny rocky island separate from the coast. Construction began in 1402 and the first walls were not completed until 1437. During construction, the Knights took stones from the partially-destructed Mausoleum to further strengthen the castle's walls - these features are still visible today. Numerous coats-of-arms and carved reliefs decorate the castle's interiors, recalling its medieval and multinational forefathers; 249 separate coat-of-arm designs remain. Between the thick, fortified walls, five towers and seven gates, the castle was a formidable presence in medieval Bodrum and saw off numerous attacks throughout time. The Knights of St John remained for over a century and today the castle is one of the best preserved monuments from medieval times.
Under Turkish care, the castle served varying purposes throughout the ages including being a military base, prison and even a public bath. During the early 20th century the castle remained empty for four decades until the Turkish government began to store findings from several underwater excavations. In 1962 it decided that those findings deserved their own museum and so the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology was born. Visitors can view a comprehensive collection of amphoras (ancient ceramic vases), glass, bronze, clay and iron items found during countless excavations of shipwrecks dotted around the Aegean Sea. In fact, artefacts from the oldest known shipwreck are on display here; the Uluburun Shipwreck from the 14th century BC was discovered off the southern coast of Turkey in 1982. Prominent features of the castle and museum include the Bronze Age Hall, the Coin and Jewellery Hall, the Carian Princess Hall and the inner garden that represents every plant and tree from the Mediterranean region, including many with mythological significance.
Bodrum Castle and the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology:
Open from 9:00am to 7:00pm, entrance fee 10TL (all museum sections are closed on Mondays)
Words by Richelle Harrison Plesse