Today a thriving port town in Turkey's Mugla province, Bodrum is located in the south west of the country, framed by a dazzling Aegean Sea. The story of Bodrum actually begins somewhere around the 13th century BC, when it was known by its ancient name of Halicarnassus; its legend a rich tapestry of events spanning centuries. Even today Bodrum is an important historical site thanks to its prime position at what was once the crossroads of several ancient civilisations.
Over the centuries Halicarnassus was ruled by the Carians, the Leleges, the Ionians and the Persians. The city was at its most prosperous under the rule of King Mausolus (377 - 353 BC) after it developed trade links, sailing and boatbuilding activities. In 334 BC Alexander the Great stormed the city and destroyed almost everything within its ancient walls. Sadly, Halicarnassus never regained the glorious stature it once enjoyed.
The 15th century saw the arrival of the Knights of St John after losing their castle in what is now present day Izmir. They founded the Castle of St Peter (today Bodrum's most important tourist attraction) on the site of an ancient palace. But by 1523, they were forced to flee to Malta by Suleyman the Magnificent, "the greatest of all sultans" and the Ottoman Empire flourished during his 40 year reign. In 1919, the Ottoman Empire lost the Bodrum region to the Italians, but they were driven out only three years later following the Turkish war of Independence.
The local literary hero Cevat Sakir Kabaagacli was sent to Bodrum in exile in 1925. He led a humble life full of simple pleasures and befriended the local fishermen, with whom he knew shared a common love for the local landscapes and nature. Driven by this love and curiosity, Kabaagacli started to explore the nearby coasts, all the while passionately recounting stories of an ancient Aegean civilisation and its ancestors, his new friends. Even after his exile period came to an end, he chose to stay in Bodrum, continued writing about his travel experiences and was eventually given the nickname the "Fisherman of Halicarnassus."
Words by Richelle Harrison Plesse