boat in the sea

Make sure you see these 12 historical places in Bodrum


Bodrum in south-west Turkey is a veritable treasure trove of history and culture. Bodrum, or Halicarnassus as it was called in ancient times, was once the home of Herodotus, The Father of History. If you want to see some amazing and inspiring places, including two of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Halicarnassus Mausoleum, head for the Turkish Riviera.


A great place to stay at and venture out from on your mini tour of the history of Bodrum and its surroundings is the sublime luxury resort of Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum on beautiful Paradise Bay.

Halicarnassus Mausoleum


The ancient tomb of King Mausolus of the Achaemenid empire, whose name gave us the word ‘mausoleum’, is a moving spectacle. Once square and pillared and standing about 45 metres in height, the mausoleum dates back to the late 4th century BC. Nowadays you can still get a sense from the broken pillars and stones of what once must have been a magnificent tribute to the king who chose Halicarnassus for his home.

Bodrum Castle


Also known as the Castle of St Peter, Bodrum Castle was built in the early 15th century by the Knights of St John. Some of the stones used in construction, and reconstruction after sieges, came from the ruins of the Halicarnassus Mausoleum. It’s a striking fort on a promontory overlooking the harbour. How to go to Bodrum Castle? Easy, just head for the marina – you can’t miss it. Enjoy the view, and don’t miss the underwater archaeology museum!

Bodrum underwater archaeology museum


In Bodrum Castle, the Museum of Underwater Archaeology was founded in the early 1960s. Arguably the biggest museum of notable shipwrecks in the world, some of the wreckage dates back many centuries. Among the numerous trading route treasures, look out for the Uluburun Shipwreck from, incredibly, the 14th century BC. It’s famous for its ancient cargo that included an Egyptian gold scarab inscribed with the name of Queen Nefertiti. The museum is an enthralling proposition and underlines the importance of Bodrum’s past as a major trading port.

Ottoman Shipyard Art Gallery


A big part of Bodrum’s history is its ship and boat building industry, a must for every powerful port. The Ottoman navy across the 18th and 19th centuries relied on it as a major contributor to its fleets of galleons. The Ottoman Shipyard Art Gallery is in an old watch tower that was once used as a lookout to alert the town of incoming pirates. The gallery holds various exhibitions, mostly of local artists’ work. Pop in for a browse around. There’s also a very old cemetery next door.

Bodrum antique theatre


Also known as Theatre at Halicarnassus, this 4th-century-BC Greco-Roman theatre built by King Mausolus is an impressive venue. Often used for live performances by local and international entertainers, the theatre can seat around 10,000 people.

Ephesus ancient city and House of the Virgin Mary


If you’re keen to add another of the seven wonders of the ancient world to your been-there-done-that list, after your visit to Halicarnassus Mausoleum, this extraordinary place is only about a two-hour drive from Bodrum. Ephesus and the immediate surrounding area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the home of The Temple of Artemis, the famous library of Celsus, some well-preserved Roman terrace houses and a vast theatre. Not far away from the ruins of Ephesus is what is believed to be the House of the Virgin Mary. If you’re staying at the resort, Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum can arrange a guided tour for you.



About a kilometre off the road between Bodrum and Yatagan, near Yatagan, are the ruins of this ancient 3rd-century BC city. It’s reckoned that the remains you actually see these days date back to Hellenistic and Roman times. Highlights include the theatre, the imposing northern city gate and colonnaded northern street, a small peripteral temple, a gymnasium, senate house and a Roman bath.

Beçin, Milas


About half an hour from Bodrum by car, this site with a fort dates back to the Hellenistic period, though most of what you’ll see was built in the 14th century. Ibn Battuta visited here in 1333. Indeed, this is a great place to get a feel for early Muslim urban and civic administration of the region, with trading buildings, fountains, hammam houses and mosques. The area is pending UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Euromos ancient ruins


Less than an hour away and on the way to Bafa Lake, the remains of this 6th-century-BC settlement are more than worth a look. Archaeologists base the age of the original temple on shards found around the site. In Emperor Hadrian’s time, around AD 100, a temple dedicated to Zeus was built here. Sixteen columns remain standing, which make it one of the best preserved classical temples in Turkey.

Iasos ancient city


Less than an hour’s drive from Bodrum, these ruins were once on an island but have in modern times been connected to the mainland. The ruins date back to around the 5th century BC. Legend has it that Iasos was founded by the Argonauts. There’s also some evidence of Minoan and Mycenean influences. Watch out for the statues, theatre, senate, an Artemis stoa and some Roman villas.

Bafa Lake


Best to go by car, the 60-square-kilometre beautiful Bafa Lake is a protected nature park and bird sanctuary. There are also remains of a monastery that contain some Byzantine wall and ceiling paintings. Plan to spend most of the day there, especially if you’re also interested in visiting the ruins of Herakleia, which overlook the lake. If you’re staying at Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, ask reception to put together a picnic for your party.

Herakleia ancient city


Between Bodrum and Didim, this site is off the usual tourist routes. Overlooking Bafa Lake, it’s now the village of Kapıkırı. The village surroundings are dramatic and rocky. Look carefully and you’ll notice here and there ancient structures of what used to be the city of Herakleia, also know as Herakleia-by-Latmos. What happened to the city? Well, it used to be a port… go see, it’s worth a visit.

Book your stay now and the concierge will help you plan your tour of the best of the historical places in Bodrum.