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The Underwater-Archaeology Museum in Bodrum

The most prominent feature of Bodrum must be the Castle of St. Peter. Whether entering the town by land or sea, one cannot help but be struck by the Castle's sturdy presence. One of the world's best preserved monuments from medieval times, it stands as a solid testament to the Bodrum area as a place worth defending.

German Architect Heinrich Schlegelholt supervised construction of the Castle, seeing to it that it incorporated the latest in castle design. The French had developed the art of cannon foundry by this time, so gun embrasures were built along the top of the Castle's walls, especially those facing landward. The Crusaders had a powerful fleet of warships, so they had little fear of attack from the sea (the walls facing the mainland were also built much thicker than those facing the sea). Also, the Knights decided a second and third line of defence were necessary, resulting in a more complicated moat system than that of most castles.

The Castle stood empty for almost 40 years, until the Turkish government decided to use it as a storeroom for underwater findings from several recent shipwreck excavations. The government soon decided these findings were worthy of a separate museum, and what better place for it than the Castle itself?

The main purpose of the museum is to display a wide range of fascinating underwater findings; many brought to modern day viewers from thousands of years ago. Ninety percent of the museum's holdings come from the sea (the rest are land findings from the Bodrum area), and they are spread throughout the Castle in a myriad of atmospheric halls and galleries. The Chapel, for instance, now houses the Bronze Age Hall, full of findings from around 2500 BC. The first floor of the Italian Tower houses the Coin and Jewellery Hall, a wide collection spanning many centuries. (Also, two art galleries display the works of modern Turkish artists, and the northern moat is used as a theatre during the Bodrum festival.)

One of the most recent openings in the Castle demonstrates how ancient history is a part of daily life in Bodrum. In digging foundations for a new house up by the main highway, a tomb was discovered containing the remains of a Carian princess dating from between 360 and 325 BC. A spectacular find of major importance, the skeletal remains were found draped in fold appliquéd clothing and adorned in gold jewellery including crown, bracelets, rings and necklace. The well-preserved state of the remains has allowed a British team of specialists to reconstruct the skull and facial features of this ancient noblewoman. In honour of this important find the Bodrum Castle opened a private hall devoted exclusively to the display of the Carian princess and her artefacts.

Underwater excavations are continuing in the Bodrum area, funded and operated by an American-based archaeological group. Students also come from around the world to assist and learn the intricacies of underwater excavation and preservation.

Currently the museum is at work on several projects including restoration of an 11th Century shipwreck and another from the Ottoman Empire. Both of these will be on display within two or three years.

The museum receives in summer about 1,000 visitors per day. This number should increase in response to other new attractions coming to the Castle, such as the opening of a dungeon used by the Knights, as well as a fully functional Turkish bath.

One feature often overlooked is the careful selection of plant life flourishing in the inner garden. The collection represents nearly every plant and tree of the Mediterranean region, including many with mythological significance. The Myrtle, for example, was the holy tree of the Goddess Aphrodite, while the Plane tree's shadow was considered health inducing by kings and nobility. Plant enthusiasts might also recognize the rare Mandrake, once used for its anaesthetic properties. A wide variety of flowers, cacti and other trees round out the living display.
 

the castle in Bodrum

 

 

 

 

The Underwater-Archaeology Museum in Bodrum

amphoras in The Underwater-Archaeology Museum in Bodrum

the carian princess in The Underwater-Archaeology Museum in Bodrum

famous shipwreck in The Underwater-Archaeology Museum in Bodrum

The Underwater-Archaeology Museum in Bodrum

bodrum castle

bodrum yacht harbourand castle