Saturday, September 22, 2012

Castle of St. Peter and ancient Halicarnassus (Bodrum)

As always, click on any image for larger view.  The photos are scattered in this posting and not necessarily associated with adjacent text.  The photos have explanatory captions.

We stayed in pretty little the Kuruca Buku anchorage for only one night.  By 06:45 on 14 September the anchor was up and we were headed out of the bay.   As usual, winds were predicted but never arrived.  We motored the entire 49.7 nautical miles up to Bodrum.  This is as far north as we are venturing by boat this year.   After Bodrum we will work our way south and east over 3 to 4 weeks down to Fethiye where we will dock for the winter.  That is roughly 100 NM as the crow flies, so we are not in a hurry and kind of lazing along.

Castle of St. Peter in Bodrum

In Bodrum we dropped the hook at 37.01.704N  027.26.005E in the main anchorage just east of the castle.  That castle and the acclaimed Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology were our only reasons for coming north to Bodrum.  

Inside main body of castle
This museum is rated as the best marine archaeology museum in the world.  Artifacts from shipwrecks back as far as 1600 B.C. are displayed here.  Imagine our surprise to learn during our visit the next day that this particular ancient shipwreck had been excavated by a team from Texas A&M University, the school preferred by many of our family members.  Another shipwreck from 500 B.C. was also excavated by a team from Texas A&M.  Who knew!  I know that University of Texas is active with excavations, but did not know that Texas A&M funded and participated in overseas digs.  Maybe A&M does just the underwater excavations?   Would sort of fall in line with their Marine Engineering programs, both marine related topics of study.  Another shipwreck exhibit that I was particularly interested in seeing was the recovery of the remains of a ship and its contents from Serce Limani.  We have visited Serce Limani numerous times and are familiar with the exact spot where this small trading ship sank in 1042 A.D.
Ancient olive oil press

Cafe overlooking our anchorage
Our anchor spot was chosen with care.  Every single person who has spoken with us about Bodrum has emphasized how incredibly loud the bars are here.  There is a particular bar called the Catamaran Bar that is right at the base of the castle.  It is an enormous catamaran, but it is permanently affixed to the shore.  It starts rocking around midnight and booms through the anchorage until around 04:00 each morning.  We did not want to be anchored too close to this!  So we anchored well out from shore practically in the middle of the wide bay.  Turns out there are plenty of other bars along that long shoreline that are just as loud as the catamaran. 

Interesting history of coins; click on image to enlarge to read
 We ‘enjoyed’ music until 04:00 from 4 bars in all directions that seemed to be competing with one another as to which could be the loudest.  Ahhh, but we have a solution to this madness.  We have two 24-volt fans mounted on a piece of starboard.  These are the kind of fans that truckers used to cool their truck passenger cabins before all trucks became air-conditioned. The starboard fits perfectly on the deck outside our aft cabin between the rear-facing hatch and the deck lid for the stern lazarette; this fits snugly and does not shift with boat movement.  Heck, we can even sail with this in place as long as seas are not splashing over the stern.  Bill put an extra long power cord to the fans.  He made this to suck in air to help ventilate and cool the aft cabin because air obviously does not blow into a rear-facing hatch when a boat is always pointed into the wind when at anchor.  An added benefit to these fans is they provide white noise, especially when switched on ‘high.’  We rigged up the fans and also turned on the other 2 fans in our rear cabin, and the white noise of all 4 fans blurred out 90% of the bar noise.  Bill slept like a baby.  Me, less so; but enough to have sufficient energy to tour the castle the next day.  I could feel the booming bass more than actually hear it.  Bill never noticed it.

The Fisherman
Bodrum is the site of ancient Halicarnassus.  More about that later in this posting.  Today Bodrum is a bustling center of activity.  It has been called the “St. Tropez of Turkey” and has a cosmopolitan feel.  All of this hustle and bustle came to Bodrum quite recently.  Until a decade ago it was a remote fishing village that was easier to get to by sea than by land.  New roads were built and the travel time via land from the nearest large cities was cut by 90%+.  With the easier access, Bodrum became popular.  When the Turkish Republic was formed in 1923, Bodrum became a place to exile dissidents to the new republic.  One such dissident was Cevat Sakir Kabaagac, who soon earned the title “the Fisherman of Halicarnassus.’  Not because he was literally a fisherman, but because he was a fisher of stories.  His tales of Bodrum and its local characters became famous in Turkey.  Others followed ‘the fisherman’ here and the village soon had a reputation for being a bit bohemian. 
Wise footwear choice for uneven stone castle stairways?

Overlooking marina and harbor at Bodrum to west
In the 1970s the rich and those ‘in the know’ in Istanbul and Izmir followed the writers and artists here, and the village developed into a small resort.  The building code limits structures to no more than 3 stories, which has helped preserve the traditional look of the city as it has grown exponentially.  No developments of huge apartment blocks here.  Just the typical squared white-washed building climbing up the hillsides.  Tourism here started to develop on an international scale in the 1980s and 90s. 

 The founder of Atlantic Records purchased a sumptuous beach manse directly in the heart of the city.  Each summer he would bring a coterie of international celebrities down to the Aegean to indulge in the sand, sea and sun.  This ushered in a new era that has slowly transformed the relative backwater haven for misfits into a star-studded see-and-be-seen paradise rivaling the likes of St. Tropez and St. Barth.  Supposedly, several international celebrities have purchased holiday properties here.

Overlooking the English Tower to Bodrum to the east.
S/V BeBe is anchored in center
I had wanted to shop for a few specific galley provisioning items rumored among cruisers to be available only in Bodrum.  But that proved more trouble than it was worth.  We asked several people for directions to the large Migros and Metro that supposedly are located in Bodrum, but neither of us could understand clearly where they were directing us.  We did manage to find the dolmus (local bus) center but that didn’t help since we had no idea which color dolmus to take.  Never saw a taxi.  So I said the heck with it; we could live without those specialty items.  I was already tired of walking on the uneven stones and we had an entire afternoon of that ahead of us. 

Probably 90% of the tourists stopped to take this exact
same photo when they passed this statue sans head. 

The castle exhibits are closed from 12:00 to 13:00, so we grabbed lunch and then returned to the castle at 12:45 to begin our afternoon of sightseeing.  Timing was perfect to walk through the first areas of the castle and arrive at the exhibit rooms just as they re-opened for the afternoon.  There was a very large cruise ship in port and the whole town was buzzing with tourists.  The Castle of St. Peter was crowded but we managed to stay a few minutes ahead of the worst of the crowding all afternoon as we progressed through the huge castle.

Hundreds of amphorae of all ages
New amphorae

The collection of amphorae is impressive.  All excavated from shipwrecks spanning from 14th century B.C. to present day – all recovered from waters of southwest Turkey.  Different shapes and sizes were on display.  To my untrained eye it seems as though the older the shipwreck, the larger the amphorae.   The oldest ones were about waist high, about the size of an oil-drum barrel; the ones from 500 A.D. to 1,000 A.D. were like 5 to 10-gallon size.  A couple displayed are brand new.  Near Ephesus there is a training center that teaches some of the ancient skills and working trades.  Tourists can buy the replicas produced there.  They still make amphorae in the ancient way.  Those displayed here are painted as it is believed amphorae were decorated way back when.
Watching video about excavation of 1600BC shipwreck.
Notice how large the amphorae were in this oldest ship

Stone circles used as lining of water well

At least half-dozen water wells inside castle
It was also interesting to see how water wells were lined back then.  I had never thought about this but quite obviously water wells would have had to be lined with something.  Some things never change.

Info on the castle chapel, click image to enlarge to read

The Knights of St. John arrived here in 1402.  When they arrived, ancient Halicarnassus was in ruins, presumably destroyed by an earthquake.  The knights found the large quantity of marble from the ruined buildings a useful source of building materials for the castle.  You can see bits and pieces of marble in the walls.  The resulting Castle of St. Peter built by the Knights of St. John has remained virtually intact.  It is amazingly well preserved.  By far the best preserved (not reconstructed) castle that we have visited to date. 
Chapel inside the Castle of St. Peter, later converted to a mosque;
now houses a shipwreck replica exhibit

Sitting under the mulberry tree

Outside the chapel inside the castle proper stands a very old mulberry tree.  Bill opted to sit in the shade of the tree and rest while I checked out all the amphorae, water wells and the chapel interior.  Inside the chapel is a replica of yet another shipwreck, this one not nearly as ancient as the ones we found most interesting.  Near the mulberry tree was a plaque explaining a legend.  

The plaque reads:  

"There are 3 types of mulberry tree found in the Anatolia region of Turkey.  These are the red, white and black.  Originally from China, it is believed these came to Anatolia in the 12th century AD.  A legend tells of 2 young lovers, Thisbe and Pyramos, who were to meet under a mulberry tree.  While waiting for her lover, Thisbe was surprised by a lion.  Making her escape, she left behind her shawl.  When Pyramos arrived he saw the blood-stained shawl.  Fearing his lover dead, he killed himself with his sword.  Thisbe returned, and seeing Pyramos dead, killed herself.  The gods watching the tragic fate of the 2 lovers decided to plant the mulberry tree all over the world."

Per our sailing guide book “East Aegean” by Rod Heikell:

“The Order of St. John of Jerusalem was born in the 12th century in the dust of Jerusalem and the blood of the Holy War.  Originally the order was purely a nursing brotherhood providing hospitals for the sick and wounded.  Later its duties were extended to the defense of pilgrims visiting Jerusalem and it is from here that its military side appeared.  In 1291 the knights were compelled to leave Palestine with the collapse of the last Christian stronghold and they went first to Cyprus and then to Rhodes.  In Rhodes they developed new military skills and became sailors. 
a Blessing Goddess was carried on each
ancient ship for good luck

 In their swift galleys, these Christian corsairs became a respected and feared fighting force along the coast of Asia Minor.  After Rhodes the knights established a string of castles on the islands of the Dodecanese and then turned their attention to Asia Minor.  The site of Bodrum, where an earlier Seljuk castle had stood, was perfect; and construction began in 1402.

The layout of the castle roughly followed the divisions of the order into 8 Langues or tongues, the 8 European nationalities from whom the knights were recruited.  These were Auvergne, Provence, France, Aragon, Castile, England, Germany and Italy.  In the Castle of St. Peter there are 4 towers: the Italian, French (incorporating Auvergne and provence), German and the English towers.  I assume Aragon and Castille were accommodated in one of these towers or were not represented in this castle at Bodrum.

French Tower and Italian Tower

The knights of the order were all men of noble birth from the great houses of Europe.  To be recruited the noble blood had to be traced through 4 generations and any possibility of illegitimacy or common blood in the line barred a man from joining.  Once accepted, the novice knight served on the military side for a year, usually in the sleek galleys.  One year of duty in the galleys was called a ‘Caravan’ and after 3 ‘Caravans’ the knight had to reside for a further 2 years in the order in somewhere like the Castle of St. Peter before he was a fully-fledged Knight of St. John. 

Info on the English Tower
After this, many would return to their estates in Europe; but on being summoned by the Grand Master in times of crisis, it was their duty to return.  There were lower orders with no restrictions on birth, the Chaplains and Brothers, who served in the hospitals and with the soldiers on the military side, all of them along with the knights bound by those medieval dictates of chastity and obedience.  At their best these knights probably came as close as any to the ideal knight imagined by romantics, what Chaucer called the ‘verray parfit gentil knight’ but they were also a skilled fighting machine as brutal and cruel in battle as any foe they fought against.

Exterior of the English Tower
Carving of a lion and coat of arms

The knights occupied the Castle of St. Peter until the fall of Rhodes to Suleiman the Magnificent in 1523.  Suleiman allowed the Knights of Rhodes to leave the Castle of St. Peter; he considered them gallant adversaries whose lives should not be wasted and is reputed to have said of the Grand Master ‘……it is not without some regret that I oblige this old Christian to leave his home’.”

Interior English Tower

(Thanks Rod and Lu for that little history lesson!  FWIW, we met Rod and Lu on S/V Skylax in the South Pacific and anchored next to them several times.  We participated in a SSB net with them while sailing from Cairns to Singapore.  Nice and friendly people.  Bill and I had no idea when we were associating with Rod and Lu that they were the authors of such renowned worldwide sailing guides.)

Interior English Tower
The castle was abandoned by the knights without ever having truly tested its fearsome defensive capabilities.  The castle then fell into decline during the succeeding centuries and suffered some shell damage during WWI.  Reconstruction began in the 1960s when it was used as an informal storage space for the booty collected during underwater archaeology missions.  The castle required surprisingly little reconstruction.  The storage booty continued to accumulate and in 1986 the Museum of Underwater Archaeology was established.

sketch of  1600BC anchor

The original Rocna anchor, circa 1600 BC

We enjoyed the nautical museum exhibits.  Saw lots of interesting things.  It would be difficult to say which was the most interesting.  The ancient anchors were new to us.  Bill declared one to be the original Rocna.

French Tower and Italian Tower
Bill and I walked the entire castle – up, up and up……down and back up…..down, down and down……around and around….noting many Crusader Coats of Arms carved in stone mounted at various spaces throughout the castle.  

I think we saw everything except the dungeons.  Saw a sign for the dungeons but never found them.  And by that time my hip and knees were hurting too much for me to really care if we ever found the dungeons.  Walking on uneven stones for hours does a real number of aging joints.  Bill declared once again that he is so totally done with castles and ancient sites of old rocks.  I’ll give him a break for a few weeks, but we are going to Cappadocia next month; so he will have to endure at least 1 more visit to see old rocks.
The original notebook.  Also called a writing board.  This
was about 4"x6"; made of boxwood with ivory hinges.  The
recessed areas on each side were filled with beeswax and
writing was done with a stylus.  First mentioned in The Iliad
by Homer, his only reference to writing.  Found in the
excavation of the 1400 BC shipwreck.

Cylinder Seals and examples of the images these produce when rolled on wet clay. These are circa 1750BC
and were about 400 years old when the ship sank  around 1400 BC.  These were used as a form of personal
identification in the Near East.

Miniature Sphynx mounted on column
Now a bit of info about ancient Halicarnassus, a/k/a Bodrum today.

Halicarnassus was the site of 1 of the 7 Wonders of the World and it was also the capital of Caria, but precious little remains of it today.  There are bits and pieces of ancient marble strewn throughout the city and incorporated in buildings and gardens to a very pleasing effect.  It is neat to walk around and see bits of ancient carvings and pillars used as doorsteps or garden decorations.  As the guidebook states, “the city is a palimpsest in which bits of old history poke through into the modern world.”

Halicarnassus was established as a Dorian city by the colonists from the Peloponessus around the beginning of the 10th century B.C.  Makes me wonder why the Peloponians came due west hundreds of miles across the Aegean Sea to relocate here.  Hopefully we will learn more about that next summer when we go through the Corinth Canal over the northern side of Peloponessus. . 
Herodotus--the father
of written history

Herodotus, ‘the father of written history’, was born here in 482 B.C.  Herodotus is called the father of written history because he wrote a 9 volume history of the wars between Greece and Persia.  Think about that for a second.  This man wrote 9 books on the subject of history in the 5th century B.C………yet the entire library of King Henry VIII in England about 2,000 years later supposedly consisted of only 3 books and those were about religion.  Herodotus stands apart as an early writer because of his ability to arrange his material systematically and to look critically and impartially at his sources.  He was surprisingly free of racial prejudice and his appreciation of the personalities he wrote about and his awareness of the foibles of human nature elevate his writings way above other early authors and many later authors.  After traveling throughout the entire known world of that time (Europe, Africa and Asia Minor), he returned to Halicarnassus.  But he did not stay long.  He left after disagreements with the Dynasts and he spent the last years of his life in Thuria in Italy.

Excavated 1042 AD shipwreck from Serce Limani.
This ship was same length as our boat.
Again, as Rod Heikell writes in “East Aegean”:

“It was the Dynasts who were to put Halicarnassus squarely on the map of the ancient world.  In the 4th century B.C. the region was in Persian hands and ruled by local satraps.  In 377 B.C. Mausolus took over and set about making Halicarnassus the capital of Caria.  He cannot be accused of mean ideas (low cost or small ideas); he constructed 3 ½ miles of fortified city walls, the remains of which can still be traced on the western side of the town.  

Islamic glass recovered from the Serce Limani shipwreck.
Flash photography was prohibited in this exhibit.  The
glass was beautiful delicate mottled pink & blue colors.

Mausolus enclosed the harbor we see today and had a canal dug across the isthmus that now connects the castle to the mainland.  He built temples and the theater that remains today on the hillside above the main road to Gumbet.  And for himself he built a large palace of sun-dried bricks decorated with marble from the Sea of Marmara.

Arabic bowl with Kufic inscription reading 'yumn'
Recovered from the 1042 AD Serce Limani shipwreck
When Mausolus died he was succeeded by Artemisia, his sister and wife.  It was a common practice for a king to marry his sister as the Pharaohs did in Egypt.  In his memory Artemisia constructed the magnificent tomb of Mausolus which became 1 of the 7 Wonders of the World.  It also gave us the word ‘mausoleum.’  The tomb was planned by Mausolus himself and designed by Pytheos, the man who also designed the Temple of Athena at Priene.  
Another Arabic bowl from the
1042 AD Serce Limani shipwreck

The mausoleum was an enormous white marble tomb topped by stepped pyramids.  It stood intact for almost 19 centuries according to the Lonely Planet travel guide; until it was broken up by the Crusaders in 1522 and the pieces recycled as building material for other structures.  Rod Heikell’s books report that the mausoleum was reported to be still intact in the 12th century, but when the Knights of St. John arrived in 1402 it was in ruins, presumable destroyed by an earthquake.  So, maybe the mausoleum stood intact only 16 centuries instead of 19; either way, an impressive structure that lasted a very long time. 

The mausoleum stood 50 meters high and 20 meters long, with the whole edifice adorned with magnificent friezes.  For my American friends, that is 162.5 feet high, or the equivalent of about a 6-story building; and 65 feet long.  That was a huge tomb!

What's up with that eye!
(Side note from one of the castle museum exhibits:  The image above is a copy of Nefertiti from Tell el-Amana in Egypt.  One of the smallest artifacts found on the seabed of the excavation of a 1200 BC shipwreck was a wron scarab of pure gold inscribed in hierglyphs with the name of Nefertiti.  It is the only gold scarab of the Egyption queen ever discovered.  This scarab was already old when the ship sailed.  Nefertiti was the wife of Pharoah Akhenaten.  After their deaths, conservative priests tried to erase all mention of Nefertiti's name and that of the heretical Pharoah Akenhaten, who has introduced monotheism to Egypt.  The priests wanted to retain the traditional many gods of Egypt and refused to accept the concept of a single diety.  Now, back to ancient Halicarnassus.) 

After the death of Mausolus his sister-wife Artemisia ruled for just 3 short years.  But during that time she proved to be a formidable successor to her brother-husband.  When the Rhodians learned that a woman now ruled Halicarnassus, they decided the city would be easy for their forces to take.  When the Rhodian navy entered the harbor Artemisia led her fleet out of a secret canal on the eastern side and counter-attacked from the rear ------ routing the Rhodians and capturing their ships.  Not content with simply defeating the Rhodians, she sailed the ships back to Rhodes.  Those who had been left behind in Rhodes saw their returning ships and believed their navy had been triumphant.  So the Rhodians put up no resistance to the arriving Artemisia.  She captured the city.  The Rhodians, over-awed as well as overwhelmed by this Amazon-like Queen, erected a statue in her honor.
Evolution of early anchors

Halicarnassus was largely destroyed by Alexander the Great in 334 B.C.  The people refused to surrender so Alexander in his methodical way destroyed the city.  After a long and fierce siege the defenders set fire to the city and retreated to 2 strongholds on the east and west of the harbor.  Alexander sacked the city and left a detachment of troops to blockade the defenders.  The defenders surrendered a short time afterwards.  Between the fire and Alexander’s troops sacking the city, much of it was destroyed.  It never fully recovered and declined in Byzantine times.

Various types early anchors

We stayed 1 more night in the noisy Bodrum anchorage.  Decided there was nothing else in Brodum that warranted staying any longer for sightseeing or shopping and we moved on.

No ancient site tour is complete with a visit to the latrines.
The latrines were up on the 3rd level of this big castle.
And, of course, one must have mosaics on the floor.
These are Byzantine, circa 500 AD


  1. Peter of Castile was known to Cruel but also a fail ruler. He had really tough temper, one can learn about it from his biography

  2. Natasi--The Peter of Castile who was known as Cruel was in Castile, SPAIN. The Castle of St. Peter in Bodrum, Turkey, is dedicated to a different man. Maybe there is also a castle dedicated to Peter of Castile. We will try to search it out when we get to Spain.


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